The holiday season is well under way but if you have a dog in the house there are some extra considerations to make in your holiday preparations. Here are our seven key tips to make the festive season a happy occasion for everyone, and keep your pup on Santa’s NICE list.
1. Don’t assume that your dog is as happy to host people as you are
Often the increased noise and activity levels can be upsetting for your pooch, so consider putting him in a warm, quiet spot in the house with a favourite chew toy or bone to keep him busy. For a dog that is properly crate-trained, this may be the happiest place for him at these times – he looks upon his crate as a place of calm and safety. It’s also a good idea, if you are hosting, to try to get your canine buddy out for a good walk or run prior to the arrival of your guests. Exercise goes a long way to taking the edge off any new experiences.
2. Consider whether your pup should be part of the festivities
Are his manners good enough to prevent him from ruining the clothes of your guests? Does he slobber or drool? Does he shed? Are any of your guests afraid of or allergic to dogs? All of these, along with the dog’s general temperament, need to be considered before including your buddy in the fun. The same rules apply if you are going out for a special Christmas event or gathering plus, you need to ask if it is okay to bring your dog along.
3. Watch out for holiday dangers
Poinsettias are poisonous, so should be put out of reach of your pup. Turkey, along with other rich foods, can cause digestive upsets that may leave you cleaning up more than your kitchen counters. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, so keep it out of reach. And of course, if you have a younger dog with high curiosity levels you may find him ingesting gift wrap, ribbons, decorations or a host of other inedible items. Keep a close eye on him until you are sure that none of the new and unusual (to him) items are not a temptation for him.
4. Don’t, under any circumstances, put food on or under your Christmas tree
I well remember the Christmas Eve that I returned home from a family gathering to find that my dogs had bust through the baby gate blockading the living room, gobbled the gingerbread tree decorations, brought the tree down in the process and then added insult to injury by depositing diarrhoea on the kitchen floor. It was a hard lesson learned, and will hopefully be enough to deter you from making the same mistake.
5. Consider putting some sort of barrier around your Christmas tree.
This will not only protect the tree and your gifts, it will be enough to deter males from lifting their leg on the tree.
6. If you’re travelling with your dog, make a list of his requirements ahead of time
Include items such as toys, blankets, food, supplements, feed bowls and water buckets, leashes – all the items that you use for him on a daily basis. It is also a good idea to pick up a couple of gallons of distilled water for the trip, as a change in water can cause digestive upset for your pooch. Try to pack everything in a specific area so that you can access all of his needs easily.
7. Remember, changes in regular schedules can be upsetting for your dog
If at all possible try to feed and exercise him at approximately the same time that you would normally. We found that the habit of always feeding our dogs in their crates helped to ‘normalise’ things when we travelled with them. Chew toys and bones will also help to keep them occupied and alleviate the stress of altered schedules.
In the end, most dogs manage to take the excitement and hubbub of the festive season in their stride. But a little forethought and planning on your part can help to make it all a pleasant experience for everyone concerned.
By: Shirley Culpin
Shirley has been involved with the purebred dog world for 45 years. Her Irish Setters have won many Best in Show awards, top obedience accolades, field titles and advanced agility titles. She remains active in dog volunteer work and through her ‘Home Away from Home’ dog sitting service.