Can you believe that we are in the lead up to Christmas? This post felt premature but seeing as it is already November, there is no harm in getting you and your dog ready for the festive season early to save on potential vet trips, present destruction and an onslaught of visitors!
1. Foods to give and foods to avoid
Christmas is basically a month of eating before the return to the gym happens in January. Of course we want our dogs to be a part of the festive fun and there are some foods that they can share with us or be modified to suit their tastes and tummies:
- A number of companies do special recipes at Christmas time
- Turkey – be careful if this has been cooked with onions and salt however as both of these things are not good!
But there are quite a lot of Christmas foods, and items we put out at this time, that need to be avoided. Whether this is ensuring they are always kept away in cupboards or tins, or utilising management strategies such as baby gates and pens during family meals and get togethers:
- Christmas cake, mince pies and puddings – raisins and alcohol
- Chocolate – an obvious one but many people will put chocolate coins on the tree as decorations, or leave chocolate advent calendars in easy spots to reach, so be careful of this
- Poinsettia – traditional christmas plant that is toxic to dogs
Make sure you are familiar with the signs of poisoning in dogs, and I always recommend that you have the numbers of not only your regular vet, but also your local emergency 24/7 vet easily to hand just in case. Look up their Christmas opening times in advance so you can act quickly if needs be.
2. Do they want to be dressed up?
It can be tempting to want to dress up your dog in festive jumpers, reindeer ears, elf costumes, and other such costumes but take a second to look at your dog’s body language not only when you are putting on the outfit, but how they move in it too. A lot of dogs feel very stressed; lip licking, low tail, panting, avoidance behaviours, hesitant to walk etc. Look at the instagram reels or TikTok videos that are supposed to be funny but really it is a dog in quite a lot of distress. If your dog is completely unfazed, happy to wear something on their body, then go for it! But if not, how about:
- Splash out on a festive collar, bow tie, or matching set instead
- Have a festive photoshoot in front of the Christmas tree
- A variety of stores, and WufWuf, bring out some amazing festive themed toys
3. Have a dog that loves unwrapping all the presents? Give them their own wrapping paper box!
My dog absolutely loves to shred. Cardboard boxes, paper, magazines, you name it and he will shred it! I am okay with this behaviour as it is natural behaviour he wants to engage with, and I just make sure I provide appropriate outlets for it, and manage our environment so that if he does get bored, he can’t wander off and find something to shred. With all the gifts, wrapped beautifully with bows on, these can be extremely tempting for a shredder.
- Keep presents away from under the tree until Christmas ve so you don’t have to worry about what they might be up to when not in sight. Alternatively, place a pen around the presents as a management tool.
- On Christmas morning I create a big wrapping paper gift box for my own dog so he can go to town and shred till his heart’s content! Save your November and December WufWuf boxes, and fill with gift wrap, old magazines, the brown paper packaging material that comes in Amazon deliveries, then you can leave these under the tree for Christmas morning so they can have their own gift to shred! Then as members of the family unwrap their presents, save the paper so you can refill their box to give them a job to do on Boxing Day when everyone is too tired and full to entertain the dog.
- If your dog loves to shred but also likes to ingest whatever they are shredding, then using old towels or sheets cut into strips can work well. Hide some treats in the box and then mix in the strips.
About the Author
My name is Jennifer Billot, MSc CPDT-KA, and I am the owner and founder of Bone Ball Bark, a force-free dog training company in London.I have an almost 2 year old, high energy, working line Labrador who is a big fan of WufWuf boxes!