Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hops in the Right Direction: She'll Have a Blue Christmas Without You

The phrase "stir crazy" comes from an old slang term for prison. You're losing it from being confined for too long; you're going stir crazy. Except, you're probably not, since it's the holiday season. Let me guess: You are crazy-busy with the shopping and the visiting and the get-togethers, and even when you're home, you need to be doing about thirty-seven things.

Your dog doesn't, though. Lots of dogs are left alone too long and too often during the holiday season, and that boredom and loneliness can lead to behavioral issues. It's a good time to consider doggy daycare, or hiring a kid from your street to hang out with your dog for a while during the day. Of, if you're not loaded, you can try some of the below tried-and-true options.

- Longer walks. They'll be good for you both. Make the walk about your dog--how often does she really get to just be a dog? If you can find a place to let her off-leash, all the better, even if it's just your backyard. Let her smell things and pee on things and feel something other than floor or concrete beneath her feet. If you allow her this time off, she'll be refreshed for when she's back at home and needs to be on her best behavior again.

- Play-dates. Do any of your friends or neighbors have friendly dogs? Offer to dog-sit one evening this week while they run errands, if they'll do the same for you next week. The socialization and playtime will help your dog unwind. She deserves some time to hang out with her pals, too!

- Keep her occuppied. Cut a strip of fleece into three long pieces, leaving them attached at one end. Braid treats into it loosely enough be retrievable. Tie the end, and voila! Your dog has something to do while you're not there. Kongs or the like are a more expensive option. A family friend likes to buy the bones that have filling in them--when her dog has finished it, she refills it with peanut butter or cheese spread and freezes it so it lasts longer.

- Quality time. If you don't have a lot of it, make what you have count. Give your dog your full, absolute attention for a couple of minutes a few times a day, so she knows you haven't forgotten about her.

So, sharing time. What do you do to get yourself and your pets through the holiday season happily?

This guy holding me is the only thing that saving you from having a year kissed off your life.

Nikita is a beautiful blue pittie who thinks kisses are definitely the best way to get through the holidays, mistletoe or no.


  1. Love,love, LOVE the leash-free park that just opened up about 5 minutes from our house! We go there together on the weekends and the hubs takes the pooches a few times during the week. Everyone in our family has dogs too, so when we get together all dogs are welcome. We usually don't take them with us shopping because they're stuck in the SUV and it's on the chilly side now but when the weather's warmer they go with us almost everywhere.

  2. Prada is the same way--she goes pretty much everywhere with me. She's pretty good in the car, too, except that one time she puked in my purse. I come from a family of dog-lovers--and all of them get Christmas presents!

  3. Bruno is my 8th month old English Bulldog and I'm crazy about him. To keep him from being nuts in the apartment, I bundle myself up for descent walks. Except our walks can get a little ... frustrating. It's not the pulling that's the problem. It's the stopping and refusing to move all the sudden when we're far from home. Any tips on how to get him moving EXCEPT for treating him to death?

  4. My dogs are totally part of the Christmas season. When I have short errands they ride around in the car with me. When puttig up Christmas decorations, a lot of time is spent decorating the dogs or getting them to pose with those antlers on their head.

  5. Ally: Prada has her own stocking, because I'm a big geek. And I'm not willing to go so far as to dress her up, but a friend is making her a special holiday collar with bells on. Fortunately, Prada has no shame, which is especially good since I just picked up a lifejacket for her on clearance. (Tripods don't swim too well.) I love seeing how excited she gets when she smells her presents (I put a treat in all of them so she knows which are hers.)

  6. anna: I know a couple whose dog was dead terrified of all kinds of things. She'd see something that set her off on walks, and she'd just freeze. She was a lab mix, so she wasn't easy to move. Her owners ended up investing in several tubes of EZ Cheese, but they needed to fatten her up, so the calories didn't matter.

    Have you heard of Lickety Sticks? It's a liquid treat--something like one calorie for every ten licks your dog gets, which is a lot better for those looking for a lower-calorie option that won't make your fingers freeze off.

    I would try using it when Bruno is walking well, the way he's supposed to. Then he'll learn he gets rewarded for his good behavior, not for stopping and being a stubborn doofus.

    Or you could always dress him up and put him in a baby buggy. The humiliation might do the trick. :D