With loaded buffet tables, house guests who are not immune to sad puppy eyes,parties, treats under the tree and food left out unattended, there are lots of opportunities for your dog to get into what they shouldn't during the holiday season. There are foods dogs should never eat, foods dogs shouldn't eat much of and foods that we might not even think of as being dangerous. Remember that dogs cannot eat grapes or raisins, chocolate, onions and garlic, alcohol, cooked bones and nuts, especially macadamia nuts. They shouldn't eat meat trimmings, cured meats or gravy, because of the fat, salt and spice content. The artificial sweetener xylotol is toxic for dogs, and may be an ingredient in candy canes. Dogs shouldn't eat sweets and some are very sensitive to dairy. If you would like to give your dog a delicious and healthy treat this season, remember that raw turkey necks are a great choice for cleaning teeth and keeping your dog busy. They can have most raw veggies and fruit and can have lean bites of meat, as long as it is pretty lightly spiced. To keep them out of things they shouldn't have, try to clear tables after everyone is done eating. Try to avoid putting edible gifts under the tree, and keep counter tops clear of treats. Teach your dog a place cue, where the dog goes to a specified place while you are eating or want them to avoid temptation. If your dog doesn't have a place cue, this is a great time to invest in baby gates, or put your dog in their crate while people are eating.
It is debatable if the decorations are more dangerous to the dog or if the dog is more dangerous to the decorations. If you have a real from the forest or tree lot tree, try to keep your dog from drinking out of the water at the base, because it can upset their stomach. If you have an artificial tree, keep your dog from chewing on it. They also shouldn't chew on strings of lights or pretty much anything on the tree. To keep your tree and dog safe, consider a teaching a leave it cue. You can strategically put your treee in a corner or put an exercise pen around it. Also, don't leave your dog unattended with the decorations until you know how they are going to respond, so this is another use for baby gates and their crate when you can't attend to them.
The weather outside may be frightful, and your dog may not find it delightful. Some dogs are made for cold and snow and others say no thank you. Be careful not to leave your dog outside for too long at a time if they are not feeling the cold and snow. If your dog tends to get snow build up in their paws, first, ask your groomer to help you cut the long hair in between their toes and if that doesn't help, consider investing in boots or paw wax. If your short haired dog wants to join in the fun, they might need a coat. The road salt and ice melt isn't great for your dog to ingest, so be sure to wipe their paws after a walk. Know that the cold can hurt an older arthritic dog, so limit their time outdoors. And, invest in some enrichment toys, training classes, and indoor activities for those days that it is too cold to play outside.
Too many guests can overwhelm your dog, which can cause your dog to forget everything they have ever learned. They could jump all over guests, traumatize small children, or even react by growling or biting. Again, management is key. If your dog has a place cue, this is a time to use it. Consider teaching your dog to go to their place on the doorbell sound. Work on a calm default behavior that is incompatible with jumping up. Learn to read their emotional signals and get your dog out of the situation if they are feeling stressed. Baby gates to give your dog a safe space and crate time can help your dog to decompress. If possible, exercise your dog before guests arrive, and if you can't, consider a dog walker. Give your dog puzzle toys and items that take them longer to eat. Spend some time on enrichment with your dog. A bully stick or raw bone to have in their safe space will help them to decompress. If you put your dog in a safe room, be sure to remind guests, especially kids, to leave your dog alone until the dog is calm again. Remember to be your dog's advocate and keep them safe!
Hi, I'm Rachel. I'm crazy about dogs and want to see all of them living the best life possible. Most of my free time is taken up by dogs, but when I am not working with my own or others, I also enjoy cooking, volunteer work, reading and Netflix in my pajamas.