For dogs, Thanksgiving can be an exciting but stressful time. The unfamiliar smells, sounds, people, and food may lead to disruptive behaviors like excessive barking, jumping, begging, or counter-surfing. Providing your dog with enriching activities during the festivities keeps them engaged, reduces boredom, and prevents problematic behaviors. It also shows you care about their well-being amid the hectic holiday changes!
Making an effort to meet their needs with fun distractions can result in a peaceful, stress-free Thanksgiving for you, your guests, and your dog.
As a responsible pet owner, you’ll want to take steps to keep your dog occupied, enriched, and out of trouble during the big feast. A happy dog is a well-behaved dog! Here are some great ideas for keeping your dog happy but distracted while you and your family enjoy Thanksgiving dinner:
Before dinner, take your dog for a good romp in the yard to burn off excess energy. Then keep the fun going with a game of fetch, tug of war, or hide and seek using treats or toys. This will tap into their natural foraging instincts. Just be careful not to rile them up too much right before mealtime.
There are tons of food puzzle toys on the market designed to help provide your dog with mental stimulation. On Thanksgiving, fill up a puzzle or stuffable toy with your dog’s regular meals or some tasty frozen wet food. The challenge of getting the food out will keep your dog engaged for a good chunk of time. You can also get creative and make your own DIY puzzle toy by stuffing kibble into an empty soda bottle through a hole cut in the side!
Give your dog something to really chew on, like a Himalayan chew, bully stick, or frozen raw meaty bone. A long-lasting, tasty treat will keep them occupied and provide beneficial mental stimulation. Be sure to introduce any new chews ahead of time to avoid stomach issues.
Provide a Comfy Place to Relax
Allow your dog access to an area they associate with rest and relaxation, like their crate or a dog bed, in a quiet place away from the dining room. Having a comfortable spot to unwind while you enjoy your holiday dinner will prevent them from displaying problematic behaviors.
With a little planning and management, you can enjoy a nice holiday meal without having to constantly redirect your dog!