The holidays are a time to give thanks and celebrate family and friends. It’s also the time when your pets give thanks to those family and friends who sneak them scraps of food under the table.
“Holidays can be stressful and overexciting times,” says Anthony Newman, founder of Calm Energy Dog Training. It’s especially true for the food-obsessed pet. “The best policy is to tell guests and family members not to feed the dog ‘people food’ at all.”
Not everyone can resist sneaking a snack, though. “Just look at his face!” they’ll say. So let everyone know what foods are absolutely not okay to give your pet. Chocolate, candy, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, avocados, and macadamia nuts can all be dangerous for animals.
“Obedience work can come in hugely helpful during the holidays or other parties,” says Anthony.
He has some tips for training your dog. Say “go to bed” or “go to place” and make it happen by leading your dog by leash or collar to that specific place. Give a reward after he or she lies down.
“The lying down is crucial to his ‘bed’ being a calming, relaxing command, not a place to run and excitedly bark at you and jump back out to get his treat,” says Anthony.
After a few minutes, give your dog a verbal release command such as “Okay!” and let him go from the bed. Gradually increase how long your dog relaxes in bed before getting the reward or being released. You can also mix in sessions where you give what Anthony calls a “long reward,” like a bully stick or stuffed Kong, which rewards your dog for going to bed and staying there calm and relaxed.
Maybe your dog isn’t the best at the “go to bed” command. That’s okay! You can still work it during the party — just reward and release quicker and repeat often.
Walking your dog before and during the party is also a good idea.
“A tired dog is a good dog!” says Anthony. “Take him out for walk-breaks during the festivities, and give him snacks or chews (again in his bed) to keep him from feeling too left out and to reward his good behavior.”
Holiday Bonus: We’ve got a great recipe for Pumpkin Spice treats from Maja Kumlej-Butler, resident of Prospect Lefferts Gardens and founder of Maya’s Homemade Munchies. You can use them in your training or just to treat your pet during the holidays.
Did you know that pumpkin is actually healthy for dogs and cats? Pureed pumpkin is full of fiber and can be an effective home remedy for some stomach ailments in cats. So don’t leave your pets out of fall’s pumpkin frenzy. Bake them some of these yummy treats. You can eat them too!
What you need:
3/4-cup cooked, cooled, and mashed pumpkin
3/4-cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups brown rice flour
1. Peel and cut the pumpkin into small cubes. Place it in boiling water and cook until soft. Mash the pumpkin and let it cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Place brown rice flour and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir a little.
4. In a smaller bowl, stir together the pumpkin, peanut butter, and eggs.
5. Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mix. Use a mixer to mix really well. When mixed, kneed together into cookie dough. The dough might be a little crumbly because the brown rice flour does not have any gluten. You can also add a little water to it or more pumpkin.
6. Roll out the dough so that it’s about 1/2-inch think on a floured surface (use brown rice flour).
7. Cut the cookies with a cookie cutter of your choice and place them on a baking sheet.
8. Bake cookies for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
9. Cool and store in an airtight container.
For the frosting, Maja uses yogurt chips or unsweetened 100% carob chips. Heat up the yogurt or carob chips and 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut butter in the microwave in intervals, stirring every 10 seconds. Don’t overheat the chips! When melted a little over halfway, take the chips out and stir until completely melted. Add coconut oil if needed to get to the perfect icing consistency.
Maja also offers cooking classes for dog owners, independently and through Spice and Spoon.
So enjoy the holidays with your pets, and remember to give thanks for their little furry and loving selves!
For more tips for pets (and their owners) in the neighborhood, check out Park Slope for Pets.