Prep Your Pup for the Holidays

November 1st, 2020

It is hard to believe the Holiday Season is right around the corner! While many of us are sidelining travel plans this year, some of you may be traveling or perhaps having people over (outside!), and your pup, as usual, does not know what day it is. Whether you are traveling or staying home, follow these easy tips to ensure your pet stays happy and healthy during your Holiday celebrations.

The first thing to do is decide whether you will bring your furbaby along or plan to leave them either at home with a capable sitter or with a boarding service. There are pros and cons to each choice and it will depend on your dog’s health and temperament; for older or anxious dogs, or those on medication, it may be best to leave them with a stay-in pet sitter or board them. It also depends on where you are going and whether your destination is pet-friendly.

Boarding is often a lot easier on you, however, some dogs do not do well in a kennel. Crate-trained dogs used to this setup generally fare well, but many dogs get anxious being kept in a small, strange space. Happy Hound offers cage-less boarding so your pup will not feel trapped and will have plenty of cozy places to rest and room to move around. Since Happy Hound specializes in dog boarding, we have a staff dedicated to ensuring your pooch gets plenty of attention and exercise. They even get a good night tuck-in! 

Bringing your dog into a daycare program before boarding will help them acclimate to the experience of being without you in a new place and being around other dogs. Dogs are generally separated while boarding to avoid any altercations, but they will still be able to smell and hear their neighbors!

If you decide to bring your pet with you, whether driving or flying, there are some things you can do before and during the ride to help your pup stay calm and happy. Bring their favorite toys and bedding to use during the trip and for a place to sleep once you arrive.


For flying, you absolutely must call the airline and let them know you are bringing a pet. Airlines often have limits to how many pets can be in the cabin and some require putting big dogs in cargo, so do this early! If you have an Emotional Support Animal, you may avoid a fee, but abe sure to check with your carrier.

Before the Flight: 
  • Visit the vet, come carriers require a certificate of health and if you have a very anxious dog, check with your vet to see what they recommend. Some calming treats and sprays can also help. 
  • Research vets in your destination area, just in case something happens while you are there.
  • Feed lightly so that you can avoid any accidents. Many airports do now have ‘animal relief’ areas, but is it best to plan ahead. 
During the Flight:
  • Bring a dish for water. Carry some doggie snacks with you to dose out as needed at the airport and during the flight.
  • Give your dog plenty of love and comfort, watch for overstimulation and if they can sleep, let them.

*Many of these tips also apply if you are taking a train, bus, or other modes of public transportation.


Many dogs love the car! But long rides can be tough on anyone. If you have an anxious dog or one that does not go in the car often, try some test drives before the big day to help them acclimate to your vehicle. 

Before the Trip:
  • Plan your route and look for rest stops. If you are driving for several days, be sure to find hotels that are pet-friendly.
  • Make sure you have a carrier or crate. Even if your dog is good about sitting in a seat, it is smart to have a way to secure them in place. Avoid a mad dash in a strange place by locking your dog in the crate before opening the door.
  • Stick to your routine; go on your regular walk, feed at the same time as much as possible. You will help your pup stay calm and comfortable.
In the Car:
  • Bring food and water. Unlike flying, you can generally stop whenever your pet needs to relieve themselves, but don’t overdo it on the food. Bring enough of your dog’s regular food to last the duration of your trip, plus a little extra, to be safe.
  • Make sure you have your dog’s collar and ID tags on securely for the duration of your trip.
  • Never leave your dog in the car! Hot or cold weather can be dangerous for any animal left in a sealed car. 
  • Monitor your dog’s behavior. Be on the lookout for signs of dehydration or illness and always have water handy.
  • Have fun! Car trips can be a great experience, just take it easy, move slowly getting in and out of the car, let your dog explore – on a leash – when you get to rest stops. They will love all the new smells. Do be aware of other people around when you stop, not everyone is an animal lover.

When You Arrive or If You Are Hosting

However you got there, once you arrive at your destination, it is best to keep your dog in its carrier while you settle in. The crate is the best place for them to sleep, they will feel safe and secure and you won’t have to worry about them getting a bit too curious about their new surroundings. 

Holiday gatherings tend to be large crowds, so let anxious doggos stay in a separate, quiet area that won’t see a lot of foot traffic. Friendly dogs may enjoy all of the attention, but again, be aware of the people around you can keep an eye on your dog’s behavior. They may get overstimulated or stressed and need a break from the hubbub.

Watch the human food! There is bound to be plenty of delicious food at your event, and Fido will want it, but we do not recommend feeding human food to dogs. Your pup may be ok with a little plain turkey or chicken, but keep it to a minimum and do not give them food with spices, herbs, flavoring or bones. Instruct your family and friends to refrain from ‘treating’ your dog as well. Watch out for poisonous holiday plants and NO ALCOHOL. Check out this handy list of Holiday Dangers for dogs: https://dogsbestlife.com/home-page/dog-holiday-dangers-safety-guide/ 

We have pretty great weather in Northern California, but it still gets cold at night, and if you’re traveling up north, you will want to keep your pet warm. Dog sweaters are great – and cute! – you can also use doggie booties, especially for walking in the snow. Bring, or borrow, an extra blanket so they can snuggle up when the temperature dips.

You know your dog best, so use that insider knowledge to determine whether they will be happiest with you on a long trip or if staying with a trusted pet-sitter or dog boarder will be smarter. Happy Hound offers dog boarding with plenty of 24/7 individualized care, perfect for dogs that need a little extra attention or for those with medical needs. Avoid some of the hassle of the holidays by boarding at Happy Hound in Oakland. Whatever kind of celebration you have this Holiday Season, do what is best for your dog’s health and happiness and enjoy the time you spend together!