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Holidays are stressful times for dogs

As we rush headlong into the holiday season, it's a good idea to review how we interact with others' pets when we're visiting. Likewise, if you are a pet owner, it's also wise to give special consideration to the arrangements you make for your own pets when guests are in your home.

Holidays are stressful times for humans and canines alike. Many homes have Christmas trees, which must surely confuse our four-legged friends. But that is just the tip of the stress iceberg. The noise and confusion, the unfamiliar guests, the treats that get slyly slipped to them that can cause gastric upset all can contribute to dogs feeling out of sorts and acting out.

Keeping dogs from biting is the goal

To have a safer and more mellow holiday season, you want to avoid stressing out your own or others' dogs. You may be another "Dog Whisperer," but if you are visiting a friend with a dog that doesn't know you, give the dog a lot of space.

Dogs don't naturally like kisses and embraces. While they often tolerate that from their owners, it can be too much for the dog to endure in a hectic group setting. That's often why dogs bite young children — kids encroach on their space and try to hug them.

Let dogs feed in another room

Even the most mild-mannered hound can get hot under the collar if a kid attempts to move their food bowl or take their treats. That's why it's best to feed dogs alone in another room away from company and kids.

Ask before petting

Fido may have never bitten before, but there is no way to guarantee that he won't. Before allowing your children to approach a dog in someone's house, ask if it is friendly and allows pets and affectionate contact.

Supervise the kids and pets

It's never a good idea to allow unsupervised kids and dogs to mingle. Kids may tease the dog and get a bad bite as a result. The younger kids could even injure a smaller pet with exuberant hugs.

If your child gets bitten by a dog over the holiday season, talk to your host about filing a claim for damages.

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