When you walk in the door, doesn’t the sight of your dog lift your spirits? Absolutely! They don’t even have to try, they just have this uncanny ability to make people happy.

Why not put that infectious gift to work during the stress-filled holiday season? Just by being himself, your dog can help ease tensions for many of us on holiday overload or struggling with negative emotions. Simply introducing him into various situations, he will lift the moods of everyone he encounters.

And don’t think he won’t relish in the attention. Watch that tail wag eagerly while he sneaks in sloppy kisses and basks in the glory of pets and hugs.

Here are some ways your dog can spread the joy this holiday season:

Accompany Holiday Carolers. While we don’t see as many these days, carolers add holiday joy to the homes or businesses they visit with their holiday-themed songs. Adding a dog to the singing troupe will bring an element of surprise and glee to not only the residents, but the rest of the carolers as well. Your dog will enjoy the stroll through the neighborhood, and he might get a treat or two along the way.

Greet Traveling Family Members. Your dog relishes in greeting everyone that comes to the front door. He probably treats each visitor like it’s the event of the season! If you have family members that travel from afar to your home for the holidays, be part of your dog’s welcoming committee. You might display a “Welcome Home for the Holidays” banner or create a special welcoming card to place on their bed pillows.

Visit a Nursing Home.Increasingly we are seeing dogs interact with hospital patients to bring them joy or make them more relaxed as they heal. Don’t forget the people living in nursing homes. Many of their families may live far away, and they may be lonely. Take some time to visit some nursing homes with your dog. Let the residents talk to you about their happiest holiday memories or stories of the pets they used to own. It will bring great enjoyment to their lives, and your dog will enjoy making new friends.

Make Your Home More Comfortable. Seeing your dog sleeping peacefully in front of the fireplace is like a Norman Rockwell painting. As family members gather around to celebrate the holidays and share old family stories, the presence of your dog will enhance the coziness of the holiday atmosphere. On a more practical note, the presence of your dog adds to the security of your home at a time when home burglaries tend to increase.

Enjoy the Winter Weather. For those that live in northern states, it just doesn’t seem right to have holidays without snow. Most welcome those first few snowfalls with open arms, but it does add a layer of stress for travelers. Most dogs have a “let it snow” mantra hardwired into their brains. They love to romp in the fresh snow, and it’s a great attitude boost to watch them exude such joy. Better yet, throw on your boots and winter gear and involve your dog in a winter hike or building a snowman. His enthusiasm will be contagious!

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