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Tip of the Week: Ho Ho…Whoa!

December 4, 2023, The Association

Looking for a fear-free way for Santa to join in some photos with your shelter dogs?

Photos with Santa in the shelter may be a great way to spread holiday cheer, but they can also be quite stressful for the doggos you want Santa to pose with. In her recent webinar, Gateway Pet Guardians’ Brittany Fleming shares a genius idea that can keep stress at a minimum while you deck the walls (or at least your social media channels) with the cutest holiday pix ever.

Santa may have a sack of toys, but he’s also an unfamiliar person in quite an unusual (for the dogs, at least) get-up. Gateway Pet Guardians and Metro East Humane Society take the edge off by recruiting for Santa in-house. Yup–the shelter dogs’ favorite staff members dress up as Santa–what a concept! “And all it takes is a donated Santa Suit, a camera, and a photo backdrop,” Brittany says.

To further reduce stress for the pets, Brittany recommends the following:

  • Allow only the photographer and handlers in the room.
  • Avoid making the dogs wait in line for their photos, as this can cause additional stress and frustration.
  • Instead, schedule the photos in 10-15 minute segments, and clear out the room before bringing the next dog in.

There’s more great tips where that came from. Listen to Brittany’s recorded webinar, The Unicorn Foster Program: Reducing Length of Stay for Large Dogs.


About The Association
The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement is a cohort of leaders on a mission to champion, advance, and unify the animal welfare profession.

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