By Kathy Santo | Updated: April 26 2019
“How do I keep my dog from destroying our seasonal holiday decorations? We decorate our family room extensively, and every year he always chews something up, even when we’re home!”
The holidays can bring extra challenges to all relationships, not the least of which involve canine members of the family. The big question is why he would choose the holiday as his time to explore his inner decorator.
The answer to this problem, I think, is tied directly to how your life changes during this time of year. Maybe your dog doesn’t get the amount of attention and exercise he’s used to, so his boredom drives him to find another outlet. Dogs can’t watch Netflix to entertain themselves, but they derive great pleasure in eating the TV remote! The decorations that he only sees on holidays make a particularly enticing target (hence his penchant for them vs. the furniture that he sees year-round).
And let’s not forget the extra family or social commitments that cause you – and your family! – to be abnormally excited and stressed out. Dogs are accurate barometers of our emotions; they feel (and become confused by) the stress and chaos that ensues. Although you can take a hot bath or go to the gym to decompress, your dog’s options are usually of the oral variety, so be sure to offer him plenty of suitable outlets for his chewing in the form of new (durable!) toys. In addition, remember to monitor him closely whenever he’s near the decorations. As dog owners, it’s our responsibility to provide our dogs with the opportunity to engage in activities that serve their minds as well as their bodies. And when the basics are being met – a healthy diet, proper training, affection, exercise, and toys that are appropriate for your dog – then everyone will have a happier holiday season.
Kathy Santo has spent her entire career as a dog trainer and handler, training dogs and winning over 500 obedience, agility and Canine Good Citizenship titles. Working with her own dogs, she has achieved every competitive obedience title the American Kennel Club (AKC) has offered and earned the prestigious AKC “Obedience Trial Champion” title (OTCh) multiple times.
In Waldwick, Kathy teaches classes, private lessons, and oversees the training of her student’s dogs using her extensive knowledge, experience and intuition to handle problems from the benign to the serious. Her engaging personality has won her the respect and friendship of her many students, who now consider themselves part of her extended family.