I often think Christmas is a strange time of year for our dogs, especially those of you who are celebrating your first. With some thought and preparation there is no reason why you can’t survive Christmas with a dog.
From the dog’s point of view why do we bring trees into the house that can’t be wee’d on? And why are there (tennis) baubles hanging that have to be left alone? You may have to keep any sentimental decorations out of harm’s way, not leave a puppy unsupervised around the tree or place a barrier around the tree to prevent accidents from happening. It is often easier to control your environment than a puppy!
Christmas is a BIG season for buying and consuming chocolate….aproximately £160 million worth! It may be hanging on the tree, the kids might leave it in their stocking without a second thought or in a bowl for people (and the dog) to help themselves. Chocolate can be really dangerous to dogs especially dark chocolate. Please don’t underestimate your dog, he is after all a scavenger. Chocolate can make them really poorly and has been known to kill dogs so please be very careful. If you believe your dog has eaten chocolate contact your vet immediately to seek advice. If you are giving edible presents please let people know so they can store it correctly and out of reach of the dog.
If you like a drink during the day just make sure that it is kept out of the way especially if you are likely to fall asleep during the Queen’s speech!
Christmas Pud and Mince Pies
The fruit and alcohol is very dangerous to dogs, so if you are having them make sure they are stored out of reach and not left uneaten for the dog to steal.
If your dog is a potential food thief then you may want to consider where he will be when you are preparing dinner. If you have to leave the room, make sure he isn’t left unattended. Close doors/baby gates to prevent your dinner mysteriously disappearing. There’s nothing worse than having beans on toast although at least it’ll be memorable!
Where will your dog be when you sit down to tuck into your lunch? Does he tend to beg? Could your dog have a tasty chew or a stuffed Kong in his crate or on a mat when you sit down to eat? You can start working on this straight away by practicing at every meal time between now and Christmas so your dog associates the designated area as a pleasant and enjoyable area rather than punishment.
You may like to consider taking the crack out of your crackers as this can upset dogs especially the noise sensitive ones or those going through a fearful period (those between 8-11 weeks and 6 -16 months)
Another alternative is for the dog to leave the room whilst everyone pulls the crackers or could you sacrifice not having them at all for one year?
This is a very exciting time for all the family but also for dogs. It’s normally only once a year when we have this number of presents to open and people sat around laughing and enjoying themselves, so this can be overwhelming for dogs which can therefore trigger unwanted behaviours.
Will your dog cope with this level of excitement? Could your dog settle in his crate or in another room if he can’t cope?
You may like to start thinking about where your dog will be when people arrive, especially if they have their hands/arms full. Can your dog be sent to another room whilst visitors arrive? Your visitors may not appreciate your dog jumping all over them and you may not fancy spending your morning searching the streets for a lost dog if he took this opportunity to run out the door!
If you feel your dog is being ‘naughty’ just put yourself in their shoes. Christmas is very odd and overwhelming which leads to tiredness. Majority of dogs that are acting ‘naughty’ are just tired and don’t know how to switch off so help them and remove them from the situation. You may have to sit with them to help them calm down which always makes for a great excuse to escape!
Christmas can be overwhelming for many people but also for our dogs. If we just give this a little bit of thought you can prevent accidents from happening and can enjoy the festivities without having those ‘Marley and Me’ moments.
If you are concerned about surviving Christmas with a dog please email me firstname.lastname@example.org