Holidays have a way of putting even the jolliest of people on edge sometimes. Dogs are not impervious to the pain of family gatherings, but few people may be aware of just how stressed our canine friends can become amid all the hubbub.

In a bid to prevent any unwanted trips to a Hartford-area emergency room over the course of the next month and a half, there are a few precautions that we humans might want to take to be sure that we don’t wind up provoking an animal attack by accident. Not only do such incidents put a damper on the spirit of things, the injuries that can be caused can be life-altering.

Dog experts are quite up front about acknowledging that any dog can bite. Whether it’s a small cuddler like a bichon frise or a massive-but-patient Newfoundland, all it might take to trigger a disastrous attack is failing to pay proper attention to the dog and take proper care. Here are some to keep in mind, according to the website

  • Know the dog’s signals. Even if your dog is normally very outgoing and approachable, the volume of human encounters and disruption of routine during the holidays can drive a dog to the brink. If you’re too distracted to watch kids and hear a growl, tragedy could strike. Things to watch and listen for include:
    • Licking of the lips
    • Panting
    • Stiff body posture
    • Growling or teeth baring
    • Pulled back ears
  • Plan ahead of time. If you know that you’ll be hosting a crowd, start to get your dog ready for it. Adjust its routine and get it used to going to a quiet space in the house. Allow it to take a food-stuffed kong to that area for some down time. Consider, too, what to tell your child and adult guests about how to best interact with the dog.

We all can do something to keep ourselves safer around dogs. But owners in Connecticut have a special responsibility to keep their pets under control. And they should expect to be held accountable if they fail to meet their obligation.