Ok, so we don’t know EXACTLY what our Christmas is going to look like yet, and whether Auntie Margaret will be allowed across the threshold, or if she will be spending Boxing Day on the streets, but that special festive feeling is starting to fizz and we want to dance about it in our Santa hats to Last Christmas, waving tinsel and slurping Baileys by the pint. Perhaps this latest lockdown has had more of an effect than we realised…
There’s one member of the family for whom Christmastime is always the best time, irrespective of any COVID restrictions that might be enforced: the dog. The home is full of humans, there are treats a-plenty, food is the main focus, they get huge amounts of love and attention as everyone collapses on the sofa for extended periods of time to digest the vast amounts of turkey and mince pies consumed; it is, frankly, dog heaven.
Before you jump in with both feet into Christmas, it is worth thinking about our canine pals, and ways to keep them safe and happy in this festive period. Follow our tips for keeping your dog secure in the festive season and you can move into the New Year with a healthy and calm dog and hopefully minus a big vet’s bill to remove a Christmas ornament from a paw – or worse.
Sooo many things about Christmas are exciting for dogs – not least the fact that you are basically bringing in a piece of the garden into the house and adorning it in glittery, dog-toy sized objects. To make sure your dog’s Christmas is a success, do make sure that they are supervised during – or even completely kept away from – activities like setting up the tree. For tasks like this, and wrapping presents, decorating the house, hanging the lights etc, it is best to keep the dog at a safe distance. If you have a crate, this safe place will offer security and reassurance. Fill it with your dog’s favourite toys and offer lots of verbal support and encouragement. Alternatively, you can keep your dog locked away in a separate, and secure room while you ‘Christmasify’ the house (yes, that is a word. Because we say so.)
PICK YOUR DECORATIONS CAREFULLY
There’s no doubt that making your Christmas decor dog-proof is a challenge. So many ornaments look like dog toys – and the perfect size to seize in their jaws. Try to keep them out of reach – keep the lower level of the tree ornament-free. Also, consider abstaining from any tinsel or ribbons for all but the most dog-free of spaces. If consumed, these long, foreign bodies can get caught in your dog’s intestines and require complex abdominal surgery to remove.
Please also be aware that many festive decorations are not meant to be eaten and may include toxic chemicals – snow-globe decorations, for example, often contain antifreeze to keep them from cracking which could be extremely dangerous for your dog to eat. Keep them well out of reach.
ROUTINES RULE AT YULE
Keep up your dog’s routine (even when your routine goes out the window!)
It is very easy to get totally relaxed when in the middle of the holiday season. We all know that wonderful hazy feeling of not having any concept of even what day it is, or whether you are Arthur or Martha in that heady, alcohol-sozzled period between Christmas and New Year. While it’s easy to get lost in the chaos of the holiday season; for your dog’s sake, it’s important to maintain his routine. A common mistake which new puppy owners make is to spend every moment with their new arrival and shower him in affection, but this mistake applies at Christmas time to all dogs. It is much better for your dog to stick to the more everyday routine – this is much better preparation for the schedule that they will have to continue come January (fingers crossed, COVID allowing), and therefore much kinder in the long run.
WHEN IN DOUBT: WALK
Sticking with your routine means remembering to make time in your day for walks. In addition to keeping your dog happy and exercised, a proper amount of activity will help them stay well behaved in the midst of the excitement of all the games and partying. Moreover, and we at CPHQ care as much about our dog owners as we do about their dogs, a bit of daily physical exertion helps keep body and mind together.
Tired dogs are often more biddable dogs. A decent lark about in the park before any party or gathering* will do dog good and ensure that they are a bit calmer if friends and family can come around.
PAWS OFF THE BUFFET
Just because we associate Christmas with a distended tum, doesn’t mean your dog does! We all want our four-legged pals to feel involved, but they don’t automatically know that CHRISTMAS = CALORIES. Consider giving them just a few extra DOG treats for good behaviour, instead of feeding them up on all the human treats, which can lead to all kinds of tummy upsets. It is worthy of note that even if your dogs will find all kinds of Christmas fayre delicious if offered – much of it is unsuitable for them. Stick to a little bit of meat and some veg (not onion) and avoid giving them any of the pigs in blankets or other salty meat that is found around at Christmas.
They will feel involved and included with just a nod to the Christmas dinner. It’s a shame we don’t feel the same – our New Year’s waistline would thank us for it?!
It is worth reminding all members of the family that chocolate is highly toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can be fatal. It contains a chemical which can cause serious reactions in dogs such as agitations and convulsions and even heart issues. The darker the chocolate, the higher the levels of the toxic chemical, making dark chocolate the most dangerous of all. If you think your dog has eaten a large amount of chocolate, they should be taken to the vet as soon as possible.
PLAN AHEAD FOR XMAS ADVENTURES*
If you’re going to be on the road at all with your dog over the Christmas period, you will certainly need to plan ahead to make sure the holiday adventure will be fun and safe. Don’t forget to pack dog toys, treats and your dog’s crate and bed if you are spending time away from home.
*if allowed. Don’t go having a massive knees up and invite the whole rugby club and then blame it on us when the Police come knocking….