Melissa Berryman of The Dog Owner Education and Community Safety Council Offers Tips on Making The Holidays Enjoyable For Your Pet

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The excitement of the holidays may not be what your pet is looking forward to this year. To minimize stress for your pet Melissa Berryman of The Dog Owner Education and Community Safety Council offers these easy tips.

"There is an expectation that dogs should allow anyone to do anything to them without complaint. We don't even expect this of ourselves."

Melissa Berryman of The Dog Owner Education Council (DOECSC) offers these easy tips to minimize stress and make the holidays enjoyable for your pet.

1) Keep Your Pet Away From Temptation
The Christmas tree along with ornaments can be dangerously inviting, new toys can scare, food can be toxic or too rich and people’s festive behavior can confuse your pet. Make sure that pets are protected and not overwhelmed with the activities of the season.

2) Teach People How to Safely Interact With Dogs
Like us, dogs prefer to be asked before someone touches them. The easy way is to use the ASK the Dog technique. Instruct people to relax, use a higher pitched voice and pat the side of their leg like they are wagging their tail. The body language of a tapping hand and higher pitched voice conveys that someone is a friend. A stiff hand held out to sniff is not a sign of a friend. A dog will indicate if it wishes to be touched. Advise guests to avoid patting a held dog to allow it to decide about interaction.

3) Avoid Hugging and Tug O’War Games
Dogs never hug each other to show love and affection. Dogs hold each other to convey position. Dogs can view it as a challenge instead. Many children are bitten in the face because they hugged a dog-especially when adults are not present.

Tug o’ war games can set up dog bite injuries. Competing with dogs over possessions can provoke a dog to assert its dominance.

4) Leave Your Pet Home
It's stressful for pets not used to each other to spend the holiday day or weekend together. Hosts are busy entertaining and making visits memorable. Ditch the fantasy. Employ a trusted pet care provider as a dog’s presence might be too much.

5) Assign Door Greeting Duty to a Person
People’s comings and goings can also be extremely stressful and confusing. Keep your dog away from the door. Dogs also can nip those leaving when guest's attention focuses on leaving. Guests can leave doors and gates open for your pet to escape. Be vigilant.

The Dog Owner Education and Community Safety Organization (DOECSC) was founded to provide safety, liability education and services to dog owners. DOECSC also provides alternatives to communities and insurers faced with incidents involving dogs. .Melissa Berryman is a former animal officer who witnessed firsthand the repetitive mistakes society makes that lead problems and bite injuries. Her book People Training for Good Dogs What Breeders Don’t Tell You and Trainers Don’t Teach helps dog owners understand the role people play in dog behavior and how to protect their liability and keep their dogs safe.
Have a safe and pet friendly holiday!

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