Cedarcide's Guide to Preparing Your Dog for Holiday Guests

Savory food, crackling fireplaces, traditional decorations—all are essential elements to the holiday season. But above all else, family and friends are what really make this time of year so special. As our homes buzz with the traffic of a busy kitchen and visiting relatives, it’s easy to forget this annual hustle and bustle can be overwhelming for our beloved pups.

Even the most well behaved dogs can act strangely when faced with the loud noises and unknown visitors the holiday chaos brings. So to ensure the safety and enjoyment of both your guests and your pups, consider the following 5 tips when preparing your pets for holiday celebrations. 

1. Create a Refuge for Your Pup

When the holiday crowds and noises get to be too much for your pup, they'll need a secure and quiet retreat to escape to. Creating a space for your dog to chill out when they get stressed or anxious will help keep everyone safe and happy during holiday festivities, including your pup. The area should be comfortable, familiar, calm, and closed off from the busier parts of the house—a laundry room or guest bedroom will work fine. Consider including the following: blankets, a dog bed, their favorite toy, a water bowl, treats, their crate, and soothing music (Spotify and YouTube have lots of dog-specific music playlists). Finally, let your guests know about the chill-out space and that your dog should be left alone when inside.

2. Use Baby Gates

Even when your dog is not in their designated space, you’ll still likely want to limit their movements throughout the house. After all, the kitchen and main entryways are hotbeds of traffic during events like Christmas day, and you don't want your pup slipping out the door or snatching food off the counter. Baby gates are the best tool for this task, and will make hosting celebrations that much easier for you and your guests.


3. Prep Your Guests

Your dogs aren’t the only ones in need of preparation before holiday get-togethers, your guests are, too. Before the big day arrives, inform your visitors not to feed your pup party snacks or table scraps to save them from tummy aches. Not everyone owns dogs, so inform your guests about basic canine body language, so they know when it’s best to give your pup some space. It’s also a good idea to explain why the baby gates are up and what areas of the house your pup is allowed to explore. Any other special needs—like behavior quirks or medical issues—should be mentioned, too.

4. Be Mindful of Children

Dogs unaccustomed to children can behave out-of-character when faced with unfamiliar kids. If that describes your dog, and children are planning to visit this year, it might be best to keep them seperate. However, even if your pup is kid-friendly, supervision is a must. For the safety of your dog and the kids, avoid leaving them alone together. Educating visiting kiddos about how to treat your dog is key to avoiding potential mishaps too.

5. Exercise and Distract

As they say, “a good dog is a tired dog.” Exercising your pup an hour or so before guests arrive can make your life much, much easier—plus, your dog will be happier, too. After a walk or visit to the dog park, your dog is much less likely to jump on arriving visitors or beg at the dinner table. Keeping your dog busy with distractions—like KONGs and other puzzle toys—will help manage their behavior throughout the day as well.

Jonathan Patrick