Bringing A Dog to Thanksgiving Dinner

Last week we were talking about DIY dog Halloween costumes and now we're jumping right into Thanksgiving. The holiday season goes so quickly! It's the busiest time of the year for most people, but no matter how busy we get, pet parents still focus on their dogs as much as they do the others members of their family. Would you leave a family member behind while attending a Thanksgiving meal with family and friends?

Of course you wouldn't! But it may be best to leave Fido behind in certain situations. When attending a Thanksgiving dinner at someone else's house, ready to watch that Thanksgiving Dog Show, you need to consider the host/hostess and their family, the other people attending and your dog before you decide whether or not you should bring him as your +1. Not all homes are dog-friendly and not all dogs are capable of behaving themselves during family functions.

If your family is like mine, no matter who's house you go to for a family gathering, there is never enough room. It seems like the larger the environment, the more stuff we find to fill it – mostly food items. Tables and counter tops are full of food, there are chairs and people everywhere and there are usually a handful of small children running around under everyone's feet.

Does that sound like a conducive environment for a dog? Probably not. Unless of course you have the world's most laid back dog. Even then, your dog may not get aggressive, become hyper and overstimulated, or steal food from the counter, but would he really be happy in that type of environment? He'd probably feel a lot less stressed if he was back home sleeping on the couch and awaiting your return.

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How to Include Your Dog in Thanksgiving Dinner

How to bring a dog to a thanksgiving dinner

If you're the guest…

ALWAYS check with the host/hostess before bringing your dog to any event. Even if you're just going to Aunt Ruth's or Grandma's house, don't assume that they expect you to bring your dog. The truth is, dog lover or not, most people will not be expecting you to bring your pet to a crowded family function.

If you're traveling a long distance to visit your family during Thanksgiving, be sure you check with them before bringing your dog along. Just because you love your Fido like he's your furry child, doesn't mean your family members will see things the same way. Opening your home to family for the holidays can be a very stressful time for the host/hostess and they may not want the added anxiety of an unwanted dog spending the weekend with them.

Consider the other people that will be attending the event as well. Even though you know your family is a dog-loving bunch, their +1's may not be. Someone attending your families Thanksgiving dinner may be allergic to dogs or frightened of them.

You need to be certain that your dog can handle the situation too. Thanksgiving dinner will bring about a lot of stimulation and a lot of temptation. Is your dog going to be able to resist all the food? Is he going to be able to deal with the commotion and the noise? Even if you think your Fido is well trained and would be a great addition to any family event, think of how he feels. Would he be happier in the mix of all of the hoopla, or would he be more happy at home?

If you're the host or hostess…

How owners bring dogs to thanksgiving partiesWhen you're the host/hostess, it's hard not to want to accommodate everyone. If you have a family member or friend that asks to bring their dog along don't just say “yes” to appease them. It's your home and you need to think about your other guests too.

Don't be afraid to say “no” if adding a dog into the mix is going to make your day more stressful.

If you know the dog and he's very well-behaved or you really don't mind having a four-legged guest at your dinner table, you can still make a few doggy-related rules. Maybe you don't mind the dog tagging along, but you'd like his owner to bring a pet gate with them to keep the dog out of the kitchen or dining room area. Maybe you want him to stay in a kennel while everyone is eating.

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If you'd like certain stipulations placed on the dog, be sure to speak up. If the dog's owner doesn't like the rules, they have the option of leaving their pet at home. If you don't speak up before Thanksgiving Day, you may end up with an angry owner and some Thanksgiving drama that you don't need.

Make the rules clear before the day of the event.

If one of your guests shows up with an uninvited canine companion, don't be afraid to let them know that you weren't expecting it. You can say something like, “Oh, you brought Rufus. What an unexpected surprise!” There is no need to be rude, but you should certainly get your point across.

I'm a HUGE dog lover – I think that's pretty obvious – but I also understand that just because our home has an Open Doggy Door policy doesn't mean everyone's does. Owners that show up with an unannounced pooch give the rest of us a bad name, and you shouldn't feel bad about making them aware of their rude gesture.

Also, don't be afraid to speak up about your needs if an uninvited canine arrives at your door. If there are guests that are nervous or allergic to dogs, the pet may need to stay outside. If you're not comfortable having the dog in your home in the midst of so much chaos, it's your right to ask the dog's owner to keep him outside.

I know that I would feel badly doing such a thing to a dog that didn't do anything wrong, but unfortunately for the dog his owner made a poor decision. You need to think of what is best for your guests and what is best for the dog, and keeping Rufus outside may be what is best for everyone. After dinner, when things calm down and people begin to leave, it may be possible for the dog to come inside and visit.

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How to Include Your Dog in Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is for everyone!

Thanksgiving is a holiday that should be enjoyed by everyone. It's a time to get together with family, eat a delicious meal, tell stories, play games and enjoy each others company. It's a time to reflect on all the blessings in your life and be thankful for what you have instead of taking it for granted.

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, you should also be considering your friends and family and doing what is best for everyone – and that may mean leaving Fido at home. Consider everyone's wants and needs, including your pet's. If leaving him at home, or at a boarding kennel, is what is best, please make the wise choice. Fido will forgive you for leaving him behind, I promise.

If you do decide to bring your dog along with you, whether it's for the day or for an overnight adventure, make sure that he is well-trained and you bring all the necessary supplies with you to make the trip as easy as possible. Don't expect your host/hostess to provide a water bowl or waste bags.

If you've got the supplies, your pup is well-trained and you're both ready for all the excitement, your Thanksgiving trip will be a fun-filled success!

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Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.