Top ways to spend the holiday season with pets

Taking a nap is a great way to recharge during the holidays, and taking a snooze with your dog or cat (or both) is excellent bonding opportunity.

Holiday time is here. The decorating, the shopping, the entertaining, the cooking, the cleaning, the party-going, the wrapping… But where do our pets fit in the scheme of things?

In the midst of the season’s craziness, our furry family members tend to get ignored or over-stimulated. As a result, pets can experience restlessness and anxiety. But they don’t have to: Be sure to pay attention and give them a breather from the activity when they need it and add them to the fun when they don’t.

Rest time: If your pet seems stressed from the hustling and bustling — and many do — have a safe place for him away from activity. Cats should have a quiet, comfy spot to sleep with food, water, and their litter box. Dogs might also need a retreat depending on how anxious they get or if they don’t have very good hosting manners. Be sure to have a soft area for sleep, a toy or two, water, and food at their disposal. But you might need a catnap, too, to recharge for holiday festivities. So use this time to take one together. Aside of rest time for those hairy moments, many pets would love to be included in some of the activities.

Dogs love a parade: If your leashed dog can handle loud noises and lots of people, attending a Christmas parade is always a howl. Fun-loving doggies enjoy the parade sidelines and soak in all the sights and sounds that go with it…almost as much as their families.

Visit Santa: Has your pet been extra good this year? Then let Santa Paws know about it with a visit and photo together. Many pet stores and even some malls have specific pet-friendly photo times with Old St. Nick.

Pick out the family Christmas tree: Many Christmas tree farms (as well as outdoor gardens and tree vendors) welcome pets on a leash. Your pet will just love being with you outdoors in the crisp air while you share one of the season’s most honored traditions — picking out the perfect tree. Just be sure to call the establishment first to confirm that pets are welcome…and you have a new annual tradition.

Go have a catch: Dogs love playing fetch, so give your pup a good run and wear him out ahead of when company visits. This way, he’ll be happy (and less yappy) and relaxed when greeting guests. Dog parks are optimal as pups can run, chase tennis balls, and socialize with others. But even your local park, elementary school grounds, or tennis courts can be great places to play fetch and let him run safely, as long as the grounds don’t strictly prohibit dogs. Always remember to walk to and from the park with your pup on a leash and poop bags in hand.

Shop ‘til you flop together: Maybe it’s only for dog food or a run to the drive-through bank teller, but think about what stores you can take your socialized pooch so you can run errands together. Most big pet stores allow dogs on a leash but smaller boutique pet shops will, too. Just think: You can shop for your hairy best friend’s gift…together; remember — a trip with you anywhere is always a treat for your four-legged family member.