I want to share some things that you guys can do to have a successful Christmas with your dog – and give some tips and hacks to ensure you guys have a stress free Christmas!
Because it’s really important, right? We all want to have a lovely Christmas.
We want to make sure that our pups arent going to jump on all the guests… That they’re not going to ingest something! Because that means an impromptu trip to the vets and a massive bill to boot, which is not what anybody wants under the tree for Christmas.
This post has been mainly AI Generated from the video below! If you notice any weird phrasing?
Ping me an email and let me know, because I clearly missed it when editing!
I want to say I want to help you guys to set yourselves up for success through the festive season. And yeah, I’m going to go through a couple of things today, including:
- Polite Greetings
- Poisonous Things To Avoid This Christmas
- Protecting your Presents & Tree
So, let’s start with Greetings!
1 – Your Dog & Greeting Your Guests!
I want to introduce you to the biggest, most powerful tool in your arsenal when it comes to dealing with your dog greeting other people.
Your friend the leash!
If you literally just grab your leash before somebody comes, pop them on the lead.
We can manage their behaviour ourselves with this simple limitation, whilst they’re learning to greet properly.
As opposed to letting them off, lead, great, and bounce all over your grandma who has a dodgy hip and osteoporosis. The simple solution is just putting them on lead, we can control what’s going to happen, we can control how they interact and how things are meant to go.
We know that if they’re on lead, we can walk away from that source of excitement.
I would suggest you do that. Because just creating more distance between your dog and your guests means that you can essentially downgrade how exciting your guest is to your dog, which is huge. This takes advantage of the 3D’s of Dog Training.
That then allows us to reset the process and to retreat in a more positive, calm. You can use that person that new guest that new that new person as their reward.
Instead of necessarily needing a handful of treats.
We can use the person as the reward meaning that when they are calm or when they are relaxed, we can go there you go. You can say hello now. And that in itself can be I call it lifestyle or a real-life reward. So it’s lifestyle training, but it’s real-life reward.
You know, we can use exactly what our puppy or dog wants as their actual reward which is going so that she guests if you do have a particularly excitable dog you may want to combine.
Dog Particularly Distracted By Guests?
If your dog is particularly easily distracted by guests, you may want to make that influence more powerful.
The way you can do that, if you leave a little bag of treats at your door, or aggregate or wherever it is, and give them to your guests or ask your guests to pick them up before they come in, all they need to do is walk straight in and go Merry Christmas, you know, do their normal thing, puppy sit.
I’m guessing you’ve got a sit by now I really hope you do. Because that, to me is one of the most powerful cues in all of dog training, and often underestimated in value.
So they sit, and then they get the reward from your guest!
2 – The Christmas Tree, Presents & Your Dog
One of the big things that people worry about when they are looking at trees and things is what goes under the tree.
Go For Fabric instead of paper
What goes under the tree is presents because some dogs, especially if you do certain types of enrichment and like to tear up paper. Then with wrapping paper on floor level, it’s going to be a tough one I expect.
Why not consider like little fabric effects. One idea, not only is it eco friendly, because it’s reusable. And it looks super freaking cute. I know that there’s Japanese tradition that you wrap it in fabric. So maybe consider that that might be useful.
Not only will this not tear on contact with claws – but it can be cute & quirky!
The Jingle Bell Alarm!
I love Jingle Bells. I learned at a very, very early stage in having a puppy that trees are interesting. So and they’re a problem for swishy tails and things. So this is a jingle bell along there’s a slightly different one.
Anytime that your dog goes near that tree or the gifts? You’re going to know about it because your tree with that very simple garland is going to ring.
And that ring in itself means that you’ve got an alert that your pup or dog is right beside the tree. And that’s not necessarily the best places to be is it so and that’s your opportunity to give a really nice recall. Which is a very, very simple way for you to get out of jail. Really, really quickly.
Sensible Tree Decorating (But Still Stylish!)
If you’ve got nice decorations like a delicate glass one?
You’re gonna want to put those up higher. Certainly, for the first Christmas, I will always do it because Indie has a swishy tail that he doesn’t really know how to control.
So you’ll see that my tree, I’ve got the cheap and robust plastic ornaments? The beautiful ones that you don’t mind getting swished straight off the tree. These are all plastic, they’re still pretty, but they’re plastic, or like fairly resilient sorts of decorations. They’ll still be very pretty.
And then as we go up, we get sort of the more delicate stuff, the more stuff that I like to have cherished and been trying to keep hold of for a long, long time.
Afterall, we don’t mind our woofs grabbing a plastic one as much as a glass one…
3 – Christmas Food…
But then we’ve got food, right food is another one. That is a big problem with the more food obsessed dogs, especially ones who like to pilfer things, and I have two of those, or counter surface. It can be problematic. And I am, I’m moving over here to talk about these. And I want to talk about those in a second. But I’m not going to forget. counters are things a problem, my biggest thing, if you’ve got, actually let’s go back over that.
Countersurfing is a huge problem. If you’ve got a dog proof boxes in your kitchen. One of them is your microwave, that your dog no matter how clever, I’ve never seen a dog get into a microwave, especially a very strong like that. But you know, not all of them are raised and the other one is your oven.
If you need to just pop something away for a couple of hours whilst you’re out or doing something fantastic way of getting potentially problematic things out of that space. And of course, the fridge!
But you know, always handy to know these things always handy to make sure you’ve got it there.
And obviously, keeping you counters as clear as possible is going to help. That’s why the dog proof boxes exist!
Countersurfing is one of those things that’s going to continually reinforce itself, the more you leave stuff on the counter for your dog to get.
Typically dogs don’t mind stuff like a glass, or salt shaker, something like that. And they’re not going to pull that off. But anything that smells like food is a possibility. I know that we’ve come into what I thought was safe in an egg box, an empty egg box, but that was on the floor.
Remember Whats Poisonous…
obviously things like nuts, alcohol and onions. So always make sure that they are out of reach where possible. And in case, dogs typically know what’s not good for them. They will typically not eat a thing that is massively poisonous (with few exceptions!).
If you’ve got anything that might be vaguely toxic, try and avoid it now.
A Note on Poinsettas.
Something that has been banded around as being very, very, very, poinsettias.
Poisonous is as a term when it comes to dogs is and I’m doing this to inform you not to allow you to do these things. Just so that you can make the right decisions for you and your family as opposed to just taking things carte blanche and not knowing the full story if you know I mean Poinsettias are not actually that poisonous.
Okay, if your dog eats a part of a poinsettias, they are not going to send them to the vet. Okay? Much like chocolate much like garlic, things, (not like raisins or grapes!) they are going to give them a bit of a sore tummy, they are going to probably end up with a hint of diarrhoea and probably going to be miserable for a little while, but they’re not actually toxic.
As long as you know the headlines and you apply a little bit of logic, you can you can generally get there. And pretty much if you stick something in Google and go “is cream cheese safe for dogs”, you’ll find it.
4 – Ensure They Still Get Sleep!
The other thing I want to remind you about with Christmas is that your dog does still need sleep. Okay, no matter how many guests, no matter where you’re going, they still need sleep.
So you are going to want to make sure that you structure in if you can, downtime for your dog, especially if they’re young and excitable and very vibrant as a dog, you’re going to want to make sure that they take that break because they are going to become a little bit cranky if they don’t.
And one of the ways you can do that is with a Kong!. And which is why I’ve actually already got mine prepped and in the freezer. So that is think that one’s actually pumpkin. That’s pumpkin and yoghurt, and kibble with a peanut butter taco. And it’s just something that I know, I can pull straight out of the freezer and give to any one of my dogs and have themselves shrink down.
Last little tip. Work on a bed cue before Christmas, okay, because if you are in the kitchen, the single most rewarding place in your kitchen is right beside your hip.
Right beside your hip is where they are going to get anything that you drop.
That single rewarding plays can be very, very quickly replaced with a bed or place cue I would suggest that it’s somewhere in the kitchen like it just very simple bed.
You know, even if it’s just a blanket on the floor in the corner that you teach them, that’s where they go when you say bed. It just means that you can say pull a very hot turkey out of the oven without having a dog suddenly appear in the wrong place, then you trip over them and throw the turkey everywhere and suddenly perhaps got dinner. And you don’t. So yeah, that’s my last big tip!
Let’s Make Sure Your Dog Isn’t The One That Stresses You Out This Christmas!
These are all small steps, but each one is just a small part of a larger picture. Training is always a process, and Christmas can be stressful. Sometimes, all we need to do is to take a deep breath and remember that our dogs don’t mean it (and neither does your family, I promise!).
If you need a little more guidance on raising your puppy right, right from the start? Go check out Pupdates! They’re the single best investment you can make after you bring home your puppy.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!