I grew up with three chihuahuas under the dinner table.
Things haven’t really changed at my parents’ house. Now, it’s a cocker spaniel and two cats, soon to be joined by two beagle mix puppies. Some years, we gain a big ol’ basset hound at Thanksgiving dinner.
All begging. Heads in laps, tails smacking legs, paws sneaking up to plates.
While it’s certainly part of the holiday charm of my parents’ house, it can be pretty bothersome when you’re trying to set the table and the cat is plotting to run away with the turkey. Not everyone loves the symphony of whines that come from beneath the table while you say grace, after all.
The holiday season is a time of many temptations for pets. If your pets are beggars, seasonal feasts seem like downright torture. All those wonderful smells, all that yummy food–and not a bite to eat for the four-legged contingent. Try to remember that dealing with your pets’ begging can be pretty bothersome to your guests (and even close family members!)
If possible, crate your pets up far away from the action. The closer your pets are to the feast, the more likely they are to catch a whiff of that lovely comfort food, and that will set them singing for their supper. Being far away from all the foot traffic will help keep them calm and composed, as well–all kinds of new faces can be exciting or nerve-wracking, depending on the pet.
Take a cue from Charlie Brown–if it’s nice out, play a little football in the yard before things really get underway. This will tucker your pet out so they nap right through the meal. I also suggest taking up my family’s tradition of the After Dinner Walk. With all that food in your belly, you’ll enjoy stretching your legs and your dog will have fun getting out and about.
Finally, stop the begging in its tracks! Pets beg when they’re used to being fed out of hand, and especially from the table. So stop it already! Place your pet’s treats in his bowl. Schedule his mealtime a little before dinner so he’ll already be stuffed by the time you eat. And your vet would probably advise... no human food at all.
With a little luck, your pet will keep her paws to herself this year.