The holidays can be a time of joy and family gatherings, but they can also be filled with danger and anxiety for your dogs. Here are 7 tips to help you make the holidays fun for your dog as well.
Watch your dog around your tree
Live and artificial trees provide wonderful opportunities to practice the cue “leave it” with your dog! Pine needles, ornaments, tinsel, and lights all pose a hazard if chewed or swallowed. You may want to put treasured or delicate ornaments at the top of the tree. Even if your dog ignores the tree and decorations, their tail can still knock ornaments off the tree, potentially breaking them. If your puppy persists in investigating the tree, you may want to consider surrounding your tree with an X-pen to prevent your puppy from getting near it. Set your puppy up for success!
Keep baked goods and other treats out of reach
Tis the season for baking! Many of us bake cookies and other treats during this time of year. All those delicious cookies are tempting for both humans and dogs! This is another good opportunity to practice good house manners and the cue “leave it.” Keep cookies and baked goods away from the edge of the counter or table, especially if they’re made with chocolate, which is toxic for dogs.
This is also a good opportunity to practice the cue “go to bed.” Asking your dog to lay on a dog bed or blanket while you’re baking or decorating cookies will keep them safe and out of the way.
Limit special treats
We often eat lots of special foods at the holidays that we only enjoy once a year, and it’s tempting to want to include your dog by getting them some special treats, too. However, your dog’s stomach could become upset if they aren’t used to eating those treats. It’s a good idea to limit the number of new treats you give your dog.
Place candles up high
If you’re lighting candles this holiday season, keep them out of reach of your dog. You don’t want your dog to eat the wax or burn themselves. And don’t forget about wagging tails! Lab tails have been known to clear coffee tables. Thanks to a wagging tail, your candle could end up on the floor or worse, your dog or house could catch on fire.
Practice good greetings with guests
It’s exciting when friends and family visit for the holidays! This is a perfect opportunity to practice good greetings with your dog. Don’t wait until the day of your event to practice. Start now. Practice polite behavior—keeping all four paws on the floor, no barking, self-control—when you knock on the door and ring the doorbell. Ask a friend to help you and your dog practice. And if your dog is just going to get too excited, crate them while your guests are arriving. You can let your dog out once the excitement of new people has subsided.
Also, make sure your guests understand proper greeting behavior with your puppy in training. Let your guests know they can help your puppy learn good behavior by completely ignoring them if they jump or bark.
Put a collar and tags on your dog
If you’re entertaining guests, it’s very easy for your dog to slip out the door when people are coming and going. You also never know if a well-meaning guest will let your dog out to potty, not knowing whether your dog needs to be leashed outside. Make sure your dog is wearing their collar and tags so if they do get out, it’s easier to recover them. If you have an SSD dog, it’s a good idea to add a tag with your contact information, too.
Give your dog a place to relax
All the extra activity and excitement of the holidays can be exhausting for your dog. Give them a safe place to relax. This can be their crate or a dog bed set up in a quiet spot. Make sure your guests understand that they need to respect your dog’s need for space.
Happy holidays to you and your dogs!