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Celeb Dog Trainer Travis Brorsen’s Top Tips to Keep Dogs Safe During the Holidays

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During the Holiday Season, there can be some unexpected concerns around our dogs that we may not think of ahead of time. And the last thing anyone wants is a mishap with the family pup that could have easily been avoided. So, here are a few of my tips to keep your dog safe and happy during the holidays dealing with everything from costumes to decorating to parties and celebrations.

Dogs and Costumes

First, keep in mind that the costumes are for you, not your dog.  It can be hard to resist cute costumes during the holiday season, but it’s important to remember clothes, jackets and costumes prevent dogs from communicating with other dogs and even humans. Dogs use signals from their tail, ears, hair and even body positioning to communicate. Placing articles of clothing over your dog can even give them a feeling of being dominated, which can cause them to freeze in position until you take off their clothing. Also, pet costumes like antlers are cute, but are they safe? Sometimes they’re not. If you must put a costume on your pet, make sure it doesn’t pose a choking or tripping hazard.

If you insist on dressing your dog up, here are a few helpful tips.

  • When putting the costume on the dog, use treats to make it a positive experience
  • Only leave the costume on for a short period of time ex. 2-4 minutes
  • Be sure also that your dog seems comfortable and is not struggling to remove the item
  • Always supervise your pet while wearing clothes or costumes

Remember, when it comes to adding layers during the cold weather, your dog is already wearing a fur coat, so extra layers of fabric are mostly unnecessary.

Safety When Decorating   

When it comes to decorating during this time of year there are many hazards for your dog that can seem innocent.  Knowing what these are and how to avoid them will go a long way to keeping your dog safe.  

Please see the tips below to prevent any decorations harming your pup in any way:

  • One of the most dangerous items that you can use on your tree is tinsel.  If your dog happens to eat it, it can cause a blockage and even death.  You should avoid using it if possible.
  • Avoid edible or glass ornaments. These can cause gastrointestinal blockage which can lead to illness and even death.
  • Keep lights high on the tree.  This will prevent your pup from chewing on the cords or being burned by lights that could get hot.
  • If your Christmas tree is in a corner or next to the wall, install eye hooks into the walls on either side of the tree, then string clear fishing line through the eye hooks and secure into place. This will secure the tree to the wall and prevent it from falling down on top of the dog.
  • Some real trees can contain chemicals which seep into the water. Be careful that your dog is not able to reach and drink the water under the tree as this can make them very sick.  If they do drink the water, make sure to call your vet immediately.

Above all, prevention is key. If you aren’t in the room to supervise, keep your dog in a separate room or even a crate when you are not home.

Tips for Parties and Pups

The holiday season gives you plenty of opportunities for parties and of course you want to share your dogs with your guests.  After all your pet is a member of the family.  However, as the excitement grows and the festivities get off the ground, not only can this cause anxiety for your pet, they can also find plenty of ways to get into trouble.  Here are some ideas to make sure they stay safe and calm and don’t disrupt the party.

  • Be sure to give your dog plenty of exercise before your party.  A tired dog is a good dog.
  • Feel free to politely ask your guests not to give your dog treats as they can quickly learn bad behavior.
  • Give them something productive to do, such as a frozen kong or bully stick.  Be sure to do this while the party is happening and take them away afterwards.
  • Prepare or prevent. This means prepare by teaching your dog basic obedience commands such as sit, stay and come. If your dog doesn’t know these basic commands, there is nothing wrong with giving your dog a break from the party by placing them in a separate room or crate.

Keep in mind that the party can be just as stressful for your dog as it can be for you.


Travis Brorsen is fast becoming one of the most sought after around today. As founder of Greatest American Dog Trainers, he not only continues to provide hands-on training to his canine clients and their humans, but his company is also a veritable “train the trainer” center for the next generation of top dog trainers.

Growing up on a 9,000-acre farm in Oklahoma, Travis has been around animals large and small his entire life. However, choosing to pursue a career in entertainment rather than agriculture, he moved to Los Angeles after college where he appeared in more than 20 national commercials and guest starred in several hit shows such as Desperate Housewives, JAG, Bones, Drop Dead Diva and many others.

In 2008, Travis and his 14-month old, highly energetic and untrained boxer, Presley, were selected as contestants for CBS’ national dog training competition, Greatest American Dog. While producers (and Vegas) gave the duo little chance of advancing past the first week, Travis and Presley pushed themselves to their limits and after 12 weeks of grueling competition, beat the odds and won the entire competition.

As a result of the show, Travis discovered he had a passion to help other dogs and their owners create similar positive learning and relationship building experiences and spent the next five years building a highly successful dog training business in Los Angeles. After moving to New York City in 2012 to marry his sweetheart Heather, he founded Greatest American Dog Trainers and can currently can be spotted in Manhattan working intently with a Park Avenue pooch.

Travis was nominated for TV’s Best Dynamic Duo for the Fox Reality Awards, and is a frequent guest on many TV and Radio shows such as Fox and Friends, Animal Planet’s Faithful Friends, National Geographic’s Brain Games, E! and others. He has contributed to many magazines and websites such as Good Housekeeping, Life and Dog Magazine, Boxers Magazine, Star and Hollywood Life. He was also featured in Top Dogs and Their Pets, a book published to raise money for the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation.

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