How Dog Training Can Keep Your Dog Safe And Happy During Christmas

It’s easy to forget about keeping our dogs safe during the holidays with the Christmas tree and everything else that can distract us. If something unfortunate happens, you don’t want to find yourself saying, “I never would have thought that could happen!”

Now, many of you have dogs that are veterans of many Christmases past, but some of you have concerns about facing your first Christmas with a new puppy or adolescent dog. Then there are those of you who haven’t given safety for your dog a single thought. This post is for all of you!  Here are some tips to consider during the Christmas season to keep your dogs (and cats!) safe:

The Christmas Tree:

  • Keep the water stand covered.  Pine sap mixed with water makes a poisonous drink for your dog or cat.
  • Sweep up pine needles.  Eating pine needles can cause vomiting and gastric irritation.
  • Tie the tree to the wall or ceiling to keep your dog or cat from pulling it over.
  • Tinsel is very dangerous for dogs.  Eating tinsel can cause serious intestinal obstruction that may require surgery if ingested.  Use ribbon up high on the tree instead of tinsel and garland.
  • The smell of a live tree may cause your dog or cat to urine mark.  It may help to bring the tree into an isolated indoor room for a day or so, so it smells more like the home.
  • Your best bet is to use your dog’s obedience skills to redirect any attention he is paying to the tree. Here’s how. Star by having pet treats ready to distract your pet from paying attention to the tree. Then begin working on setting a boundary for your dog by doing “set ups” with your dog on leash as you take him to the tree.  When he sniffs the tree, give him a gentle tug and say “Off” then redirect to a stuffed Kong toy or chew bone and praise him for taking the appropriate item. Soon your dog will see that ignoring the tree earns him praise and toys.

Ornaments:

  • Pick up any ornament hooks that fall.  If your dog eats an ornament hook, it can damage the intestines.
  • Better yet, replace ornament hooks with loops of string tied in a knot.
  • Glass ornaments should be placed on the upper half of the tree where dogs and cats can’t reach them.
  • Only use wooden or non-breakable ornaments down low, or better yet, only decorate the top 2/3 of your tree.

Lighting:


  • Don’t hang indoor lighting low, this will keep your dog or cat from becoming entangled in them.
  • Remember to unplug the lights when you’re not home to supervise your dog.
  • Some dogs might also be tempted to chew electric cords or other electric ornaments. Again, it’s best to use training to let your dog know that this is unacceptable.

Presents:

  • Dogs are very inquisitive and the decorations on presents can be very tempting.  Take ribbons and string from packages.  Consider storing presents in a safe area until right before opening.
  • Don’t place edible presents under the tree—take it from someone who knows 🙂  dogs can smell them a mile away and they will rip them open and eat the contents.  (Jalapeno beef jerky was the culprit and a fast call to the vet!)
  • Don’t forget to give your dog or cat a present.  A stuffed Kong will keep them occupied when guests are over.
  • Don’t EVER give a puppy as a surprise present.  A puppy who grows into a dog is a major, lifetime commitment and owners must be prepared to make the commitment of time and energy it takes to successfully integrate a puppy/dog into a home. However, if you are considering getting a puppy for the holidays, see my post on the right way to add a new puppy or dog to the family. Don’t forget my CD, Puppy Training Sins Every New Puppy Owner Needs To Avoid, it’s like having me in your home!
  • The perfect present to give the dog lover in your life is the gift of dog training. You can buy gift certificates for group or individual training session with me. You can contact me through my website, e-mail me at info@petiquettedog.com or call me at (713) 728-0610 to order today.

Dog Activity:

  • Repeat after me: A tired dog is a good dog.  Do not forget to take your dog for his daily walk, especially before company arrives.
  • Give your dog a safe place to go – another room, a crate removed from the activity, somewhere your dog is used to and feels safe so he can escape all the activity.

Have a safe, wonderful, blessed Christmas and hug those pups for me!

(C) Jim Burwell 2010