Make Sure Your Pet Is Good Holiday Company

FOCUS ON PETS

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Help wanted: The Katrina dogs and the people caring for them are in dire need of help due to the very cold weather arriving early. If someone has a truck or trailer to haul straw bales out to the sanctuary, or if you can donate some time, please call Diane Roeder at (928) 970 9319.

It's that time again when we wish we would have worked harder to improve our dog's behavior so he will not embarrass us during the holiday celebrations just ahead. It is not too late, but consistency and persistence are essential. Start today.

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Wanting to look his best for all the future festivities, Parker stands patiently while Morley Hernandez adds the finishing touches to his pre-holiday trim.

To prepare your pet with good holiday behavior, begin with some short, simple training exercises several times a day. Have the dog sit, stay and down while you are eating, washing dishes or talking on the phone. Insist that he sit and wait while you put his food dish down. Have a rug or bed in the room where the family gathers, so he can be part of the family. Insist that he lies quietly while guests are visiting. Let him greet guests at the door if he sits quietly. There should be no barking at or jumping on people coming to your home.

These training sessions should be short, but the dog must not move from the sit or down position until you say "OK." If he moves before that, put him back in position and tell him to stay. When he does stay, give him a wonderful treat and tell him how terrific he is. He will catch on. At first, the stay might only be for 10 seconds. Build from there. Once he will sit for two minutes or so, you can ask him to lie down and stay longer while company is present. Don't let him decide when it is OK to move, but, don't forget him in that position for too long either.

A good pre-holiday grooming will have him looking his best. This should include a nail clipping and bath. Make an appointment with the groomer or do it at home. We all are happier when we look good.

"The time when pets were relegated to the back yard is over," said Harvey Solway, president and CEO of Pet Supplies Plus. "Today, cats and dogs are part of their owners' social life. They attend family parties, greet guests and interact with them."

According to the survey by Pet Supplies Plus, pet owners will spend an average of $15 per gift and buy an average of seven gifts, bringing the spending total to more than $100 per pet. Many respondents said they favored gifts that could be described as luxuries, such as fancy dog beds, gourmet biscuits and pet cologne. Almost half of these pets will be wearing a seasonal outfit.

Many will take their pet along to grandmother's house for the holidays.

Dr. Steve Tsengas, founder and president of "Our Pet's Company" offers these tips for a safe and happy road trip:

  • Don't feed your pet right before leaving. Feed him the night before and maybe something light for breakfast.
  • Taking along bottled water will prevent an upset stomach with strange water.
  • Make sure your pet's ID tag is current, and add temporary information showing your cell phone and destination phone number.
  • Don't leave your dog alone in the car. A freezing car can be as much of a worry as a hot car.
  • Bring along your pet's favorite blanket or bed, some soft toys and a few chew toys to occupy him and keep him feeling comfortable in a strange location.

I would add to Dr. Steve's suggestions: a seat belt provides safety for your pet, particularly on the highway or in busy city driving. Bring along his folding kennel for times when there will be lots of strange people and noise and he will need to be alone.

Many motels require that pets be kept in kennels. A box of plastic bags for clean up will fit easily under the back seat of the car. Keep a stash in your pocket. A 4- to 6-foot leash is great for controlled walks, but a flexible, expandable leash offers the dog the opportunity to run around a little. Traveling can be extremely confining for dogs. Bring along the pet's own brand of dog food. Strange food can cause stomach upset, particularly in a strange environment.

Naturally, "Our Pet's Company" has the perfect accessory for your traveling pet. The Store-N-Feed To Go consists of a raised dining platform with two removable stainless steel bowls built in. Underneath is a large, plastic storage tub with room for up to 20 pounds of dog food. The tub can also store bottled water, treats, toys and accessories needed during the trip. The Store-N-Feed To Go has an adjustable shoulder strap for easy toting along the way, and fits easily into the back of your vehicle. It also has a front mesh pocket for toys, brushes, plastic bags and leashes. The Store-N-Feed has a suggested retail price of $49.99 and is available from pet retailers.

Many other great gift ideas for your pets await you at pet stores and on the Internet. But most importantly, get started with some basic obedience training. Your hosts will comment on your well-behaved dog and you surely will be invited back.

Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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