Hi everyone.  We are getting ready for a wonderful Holiday season at D with all the fun four-legged guests that will be staying with us.  But I still have to get ready at home for my two-legged friends and family and make sure that Sasha and Sammy will enjoy the holidays with us.

Making my list and checking it twice…

Holidays can be a little stressful for even the calmest personality and your dog can pick up on it.  They are tuned into your emotions and if you are stressed, they will be the first to feel your pain.  Imagine the leash as a lightning rod and when you are happy or sad – the rod transfers that directly to your best friend.

So, I’ve developed a holiday check list that I make for every occasion.  It’s very thorough and keeps me sane.  I don’t worry that I’ve forgotten anything important.  It covers everything:  from invitations, cards and gifts; to recipes and shopping lists for those special dinners; and to what I will wear.  I’ve even added an approximate timeline so that I can easily keep to the schedule.  I’m not stressed out and the pups are relaxed around me.

Puppies should be gifted on the off seasons.

We’ve all seen it – a cute fluffy ball of fur under the Christmas tree.  Eyes so big you can’t resist them.  But honestly – we never recommend bringing a puppy into the chaos of the holidays.  Tony gave me a hint our first dog was on its way– when I unwrapped gifts of a leash, a dog bowl, and treats as a gift.  However, we didn’t bring Sammy home until the end of the holidays when all the guests were gone and the puppy safety hazards were taken care of. Only then did we bring him to his new forever home.  We waited for quality time to spend with Sammy away from the pandemonium that accompanies the holidays.

Exercise is key (for all of us!)

The day of our party or guests arrival – Sasha and Sammy get a good workout.  We take them to D to play in the park or run the treadmill.  But if we haven’t got time – long walks and letting them play in one of Scottsdale’s many dog parks works as well.  The object is to exercise them and tire them out so they can receive our guests calmly.

Our door remains closed at all times.  Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, younger children do not understand that rule and dogs, including ours, are escape artists if the door is open.  This leaves them exposed to getting lost or even worse.  So, we make a point to immediately close and lock our door after letting our guests in.

Now that we have both Sasha and Sammy, we really work to keep their holidays fun and healthy by following a few rules because we have a lot of people coming through our home during November and December.  Some guests Sammy and Sasha are familiar with and some they are just meeting for the first time.  We’ve found these few simple rules which we share with our guests keeps everyone happy and safe.



Even though we know Sammy and Sasha are good with children, the hectic atmosphere with all the strangers, compiled with a curious little one, are not a good mix.  When we know that we will have toddlers in tow, Sammy and Sasha are made comfortable either in their crate or beds.  They are out of site and out of reach of little ones wanting to see if their ears really do pull off.

People Treats are just that!

Food glorious food!  Great for entertaining but many of our traditional treats can be lethal for your pet.  We let our guests know that they are not to feed S & S even if they give them the puppy dog eyes.  No five second rule for dogs.  We ask if they drop it they pick up the food right away so the dogs won’t eat it.  You’d be surprised at what foods would make your dog sick – such as butter, chocolate and even meat!  Which reminds me – have your holiday emergency vet information handy in the event the dogs get the upper crust.

Gifts and Decorations

We love our holiday tree and take extra care when decorating.  We don’t place tinsel in reach of the pups or use cranberries or popcorn as decorations.

We’ve also asked our friends not to give us poinsettias or other holiday plants that could poison our best friends.  I use the plastic ones that are just as pretty and less of a danger to Sasha and Sammy.  We never assume.  We always ask if gifts contain something edible and if they do – we put them up high.  We make sure those gifts don’t go under the tree where Sasha and Sammy nose around when we aren’t watching.

Those are just a few of the tricks I’ve used over the seasons.  Tony, I and everyone at D Pet Hotels Scottsdale wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

See you in December.


Lauren DeHorta is a Scottsdale resident and devoted animal lover. She lives with her husband Tony and dogs Sacha, a Rottweiler and her Mini Dachshund Sammy. As owner of D Pet Hotels Scottsdale’s first 5-Star Luxury Dog Hotel; Lauren has learned many “tips” and “tricks” along the way to creating a happy, healthy and safe environment for dogs and shares some of those with you in her new monthly column.