The holiday season tends to be very hectic for most of us. This means some of our usual routines go out the window. Unfortunately, for our dogs, this often includes training, walks and other important bonding and exercise time.

When people travel without their dogs, many people see their dogs' manners and training take a nosedive. Dogs are often boarded at a kennel where it can be noisy and stressful. Dogs are bombarded with barking dogs and get very little, if any exercise. Other dogs are able to stay in their own homes with a petsitter or stay in the home of friends or family. In most cases, the dogs' normal routines, training, and manners are not kept up. When you return home, you feel like you're starting over again.

Even if you don't travel, simply not keeping up with your dogs' routines, training and manners can cause dogs to revert back to their former trouble-making selves. People often think this is due to their dogs being mad or spiteful at not getting enough attention. That's not true! They don't sit around plotting their revenge. But they do have a lot of energy that is not being constructively channeled, and it has to come out somehow.

If you've been reading my blog lately, you probably remember last week's post about Romeo's recuperation after his neuter surgery. Without all of the usual outlets for his energy, I started to see some of his trouble-making behaviors making a return. He wasn't looking for “trouble”, he was simply looking for fun ways to burn off that excess energy.

Prevent naughty behaviors from cropping up (or escalating) by sticking to your dog's routine as much as possible – or even better, increasing his constructive activities! By scheduling in time for walks, play time and training, you will help prevent bad things from happening and both you and your dog will be much happier. A thirty minute brisk walk is far less time-consuming that cleaning up the mess your dog might create if left alone to his own devices. Plus, a walk is much more fun than cleaning!

If you can't be watching your dog, prevent problems by managing your dog. Don't leave him in the kitchen for a few minutes while you step away to handle something else and he helps himself to all the good smells on the counter. Take him with you, give him a few minutes outside or put him in his kennel with a bully stick for a short time.

Try to include your dog in as many activities as you can, even if it means having him on leash next to you to manage him. Have some of his food or tasty (healthy) treats with you so you can reward him for being calm and well-behaved. Teach him a couple of new tricks to show off. Practice his nice calm greetings with all of your visiting family rather than keeping him locked away.

If you are traveling and leaving your dog behind, ask the people taking care of him to keep up some of his manners and training while you are gone. You'll be much happier when you return, and your dog and your dog's caretaker will be much happier while you're gone!

We usually do board dogs over the Christmas/New Year holiday season if we are at home. It allows our clients to know their dogs are being well-cared for, given plenty of attention and exercise, and are getting as much or more work on their manners and training as they do at home.

Include your dog in your holiday plans this year as much as possible!