The countdown is on for the big holiday, and part of the fun for many pet parents includes the opportunity to take your dog to visit Santa.
However, before your trip to meet St. Nick, take a moment to check our list (twice!) for these easy tips to make your visit jollier. After all, a trip to visit the man in the red suit is usually one in which everyone—not just Santa—will know who’s naughty and who’s nice by the end of it.
Ask yourself if your dog will enjoy the visit
Let’s face it: Santa can be a little intimidating. If your dog is fearful of costumes or crowds, consider an alternative. Inexpensive Santa costumes can be ordered and, with a family member inside, can create great photo opportunities in the comfort and safety of your own home.
Headed to a store for your pooch’s photo with Santa? Before the big man’s arrival, call the store and ask if they expect lighter crowds early or late in the day. Lighter crowds may be less stressful for your dog and will help him keep his focus during the photo session. You’ll also want to make sure the store you’re planning to visit allows dogs into the area where Santa will be.
Dress for holiday fun
A holiday-themed dog collar lends a festive feel to the photos or, if your dog doesn’t mind clothing, consider a cozy knit dog sweater or fleece holiday coat.
Be camera ready
Groom your dog with a good brushing at home or a session with the groomer in advance of the photo session. Holiday bows or bandanas can be added for an extra special seasonal look.
Walk(ing) in a winter wonderland
Before visiting Santa, give your dog an extra-long walk. A tired dog is going to be more patient in line and better behaved as he waits his turn with other dogs.
While waiting to meet Santa, keep your dog occupied with simple commands, such as “sit” and “stand.” Reward your dog’s good behavior with verbal praise and occasional treats if other dogs aren’t nearby.
Introduce your dog to Santa
Just as you’d greet a friend, walk up and introduce yourself to Santa in a happy voice. Let your dog see that you and Santa are on friendly terms, which will help your dog feel at ease and to engage with Santa in the same spirit he sees you interacting with him.
Know what makes your dog look
If a store photographer is shooting photos of your dog and Santa, stand by the photographer to help catch your dog’s attention and encourage him to look at the camera. Many photographers will be able to easily grab your dog’s attention but if your dog is distracted, know what will make him look, whether that’s a dog treat in your hand, a squeaky toy or high-pitched sounds.
Image via Shutterstock
Authors of 30+ travel guidebooks, Paris Permenter and John Bigley write about tips for dog-loving travelers.