::CLICK CLICK CLICK::
I took my 80-pound Rottweiler, Allie, to get her picture taken with Santa at a local mall and I could have been better prepared. So, before you start the primping, here are five tips to think about before heading to the mall with Fido in tow.
Go with a friend or family member. Unless you have a four-pound Chihuahua, I recommend bringing a fellow human along for the ride. I brought my best friend -- who Allie loves to pieces -- just in case I went for a drag through the mall and needed some assistance. Luckily, Allie couldn’t get much traction on the linoleum floor. You’ll also need help when signing standard paperwork, which is made so much more difficult when your dog is trying to make friends with the puppy 10 feet away.
Do your hair and dress nicely - just in case. I didn’t plan on making an appearance in the photo with Allie and Santa. As you can see from the picture located to the right, my pain-in-the-butt Rottweiler had other plans. I wish I had worn a nice shirt and didn’t have my hair in the always-favorite ponytail. Allie sat very pretty next to the camera station as if to say, “Go ahead, Ma! You look great!” It took a good five minutes to coax her toward Santa. Thank goodness for treats and squeaky toys…
Speaking of treats, don’t forget to bring a bag of Scooby Snacks. Allie is allergic to the world, so I made sure to bring a small bag of her magical dog food. No matter how well behaved your dog is at home, all of that training flies out the window when you’re in public… with other dogs around. This bodes true for Allie. However, the second I showed Allie a “treat,” which she never gets at home, she sat down and stayed -- for about 30 seconds. She got a lot of treats. Who's the trained one!? The treats were also useful when it was our turn with Santa. It’s amazing what a dog will do for a treat, even if it means getting close to the man in the big red suit.
Know what freaks your dog out. I knew Allie wasn’t going to be a fan of bigger dogs - she’s used to being the biggest pup in the neighborhood. So when I saw two mastiffs walk in, I was prepared for her to hide behind me and plot her escape. The one thing I didn’t think about? Allie gets upset when she can’t see your hands. She’ll bite at your hands if you hide them in your sleeves, bark and growl if you cross your arms in front of you, and will try to pull off your gloves. What was Santa wearing? Gloves. Did I think to ask Santa to take them off? No. Someone mentioned his gloves after our picture session, and I immediately said, “DUH! I should have known better.” The session probably would have gone a tiny bit better if I had remembered that one thing.
Don’t bring your dog if it doesn’t play well with others. I know this one is kind of debatable, especially if your dog is lovely when at home. But it’s rather unnerving for everyone present when a dog snarls, growls and barks as if they’d attack if not on a leash. Barking is to be expected -- there were two noisy dachshunds in front of us. But snarling and growling? Eh, I’d keep that pup at home, plop ‘em in front of the Christmas tree, and take a perfect -- and free -- holiday photo.