Christmas can be great fun for all the family, including your furry friend! With careful planning and some Good Boy dog treats, you can help your pet navigate all the new food, decorations and visitors and enjoy the holidays more than ever! Here are our top tips for a fantastic Christmas for you and your doggo.
1. Careful with that Christmas tree!
And it’s not just your fur-pal knocking it over that you have to worry about! Did you know that pine needles can be toxic to dogs? And our furry friends might take one look at the glass baubles and think they are balls just begging to ‘fetched’. The trick to keeping things safe for your pooch at Christmas is to think ‘dog first’. What would your pet do if left unattended with any item you’re thinking of leaving within reach? If you conjure up visions of him tearing down the tinsel and peeing up the tree, you’ll have to make some alterations to your festive plans!
A good way to avoid dog pee on the tree is to use a plastic tree, and to spray the bottom of it with a dog-pee deterrent. If you use a real tree, you could get a slightly smaller one and sit it on top of a little table to raise it out of the doggy danger zone. Make sure you sweep up those pine needles every day to keep them out of your pooch’s mouth. Get hold of some plastic baubles and avoid hanging anything on the lower branches. It’s never safe to hang chocolate treats, as they are toxic to dogs and your faithful friend could knock the tree down while you’re not looking and have a sneaky feast.
If you usually go all-out with the decorations, having a dog is a great excuse to start early! You can begin slowly adding decorations over the weeks before Christmas so your house doesn’t change too much all at once. That way, you’ll soon learn which decorations are the problem if your fluffy friend has an adverse reaction.
2. Do something extra special
Whether you get your beloved pet a gift or lavish them with Good Boy dog treats, you can make Christmas a special time for them too. A really lovely way to do this is with a doggy advent calendar, it causes some real doggo excitement throughout December and will give you some real brownie points as a pet-parent. Our The Snowman™ & The Snowdog Dog Advent Calendar is packed full of chicken flavoured treats which is bound to leave your pooch just drooling at the thought of an advent treat every single day of December. And if your fur-baby really deserves to be treated this year make sure they have a dog stocking to rip open on Christmas morning!
You can create your own canine enrichment activities with leftover boxes and scrunched up envelopes, with treats hidden inside – but be careful with discarded wrapping paper as it can be toxic to dogs. You can try this with folded, twisted or loosely tied tea towels, too – after all, us pet-parents all know that some doggos are just as happy playing with recycled toys!
3. Make some memories
Get some festive snaps of Fido helping you dress the tree, or gazing lovingly at the Christmas cake you’re baking. They make fantastic Christmas cards for your loved ones, and treasured memories for years to come. And who doesn’t love an excuse to pop a Christmassy bow tie on their pooches collar and show them off for festive likes on Facebook? Share these with us to #GoodBoyUGCYes or on our Facebook Community page to feature on our Top Dog Hall of Fame. Read more on how to feature here.
4. Keep the home comforts
You may be expecting visitors over the holiday season, but remember your dog has no idea what’s coming. Make sure you keep the little touches of comfort that your canine companion is used to, so they can feel safe and secure. If your dog enjoys hiding out in their crate when it all gets too much, make sure it’s easy for her to access and consider adding an extra one if your house is big and you’re hosting a few gatherings. Don’t tidy away all the dog toys and chewy treats if they usually have plenty of choice.
The same goes for trips to see other people. Take the crate with you, and familiar toys and treats. You can even add a t-shirt you’ve slept in to your doggo’s crate to help them feel extra secure.
5. Lay down the law
Whether you’re taking your best friend with you when you visit relatives, or you’re holding the dinner at your own place, make sure your loved ones know what’s what. Not everyone understands your dog like you do, and our fur-pals sometimes try their luck when it comes to extracting treats from others! Some common rules include:
- No human food – unless you’ve approved it first – as onions, garlic, caffeine, chocolate, raisins, grapes, avocado, alcohol, cooked meat bones and plenty of other things can make dogs very sick. Some of these things even hide in other foods, such as onion powder in gravy. Pack some Good Boy Chicken Twists and offer them to people who just can’t resist giving your pooch a little treat.
- No treats while people are eating – table manners take months to train and seconds to undo!
- No one should interact with your dog when he’s chilling out in his crate (this is mostly for dogs that are old or a little nervous, but is a great rule in general)
- No dogs on the furniture, upstairs or wherever else you or your hosts want to keep dog-hair free.
- Watch the doors and stairgates, to ensure your pal doesn’t make a break for it!
? Top tip: Keep your dog’s collar and tag on at all times so if they do get out they can be easily identified and someone can let you know they’ve found them!
If you’re going to be run off your feet cooking, it’s worth making sure someone else knows your dog’s “I need the potty” signal so they can keep an eye out and help prevent any little accidents! If you have an old, sick or otherwise grumpy canine companion, make sure everyone knows what is and is not appropriate: scratching her head and tummy – yes; pulling her ears – no!
The flipside of this is to remember to be a considerate dog owner, particularly when visiting non-doggy friends! Swap your dog’s squeaky toy for a soft toy, and bring their bed so they can be kept out of the way during busy periods. Bring a water bowl so you don’t end up having to improvise. Pack your best dog-hair remover – and whatever you do, don’t forget poop bags!
6. Dog proof everywhere
Wherever you are, make sure things are dog-proofed as soon as you arrive. Your loved ones may not think it’s cute when their favourite sheepskin slippers get given the once over by your cheeky chappie! And non-dog owners may be surprised to know that dogs have a tendency to eat just about anything they get their little paws on, include multivitamin tables (which can be very toxic), poisonous house plants, soaps that look like snacks, food even in its wrapper. Not to mention that some kids’ toys look like dog toys… and they are oh-so tempting.
7. Treat your pooch to some home-cooked delights
If you get Christmas baking fever, have a look for a dog-treat recipe to show your furry friend just how much you care! Creating something delicious just for them is a wonderful way to chill out and unwind while everything around you is holiday-mad, and they make adorably thoughtful gifts for other dog parents in your life.
8. Keep food out of reach
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Well just wait until there are untrained adults and hyper kids all over the place. You’ll be surprised what gets left lying around! From treats on low tables and alcoholic drinks left next to the sofa, let alone all the edible gifts that may find themselves in a stack on the floor… you have to be extra vigilant to stop your fluffy friend from acting like a kid in a candy store. Bins, particularly temporary ones to cope with the Christmas wrapping, can be a tempting treasure trove for even the most restrained pooch.
9. R&R (routine and relaxation!)
Dogs thrive on routine and can find it unsettling when their dinner is late or they are suddenly being walked in the dark. If your canine companion enjoys a hike every morning, see if you can keep it up over Christmas-time.
Even the most sociable doggos also need plenty of rest. Did you know that they sleep an average of 12-14 hours each day? Some dogs – like greyhounds – are partial to up to 18 hours’ beauty sleep! Make sure your furry friend has plenty of time to unwind and de-stress.
Dog chews are a great way to help them switch off, and chewing releases a calming hormone that helps them get into the mood to relax, even when everything around them is a little bit over-stimulating.
Remember, many people like to set off fireworks in their gardens over the festive season, which can really upset pooches. If your dog is left alone to chill out while you’re visiting friends, draw the curtains and leave the TV on at a low volume to drown out any loud bangs and noisy neighbours.
10. Start a fantastic family tradition
Whether it’s a quiet, chilly walk at the break of day where you and your canine companion take in the crisp morning air and prepare yourselves for the festivities ahead, or a family trip to the local park after dinner – make scenic dog walks a festive family tradition.
Many people enjoy walking off their Christmas over-indulgence with a Boxing Day stroll in the surrounding countryside with family and neighbours; something your furry friend is bound to go crazy for if they’ve been cooped up all day. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to get some photos of everyone together, even if they do have red noses (and an unflattering number of layers on)!
11. Take care when introducing other pets
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but they aren’t always so keen on each other! Be careful when introducing your pets to other doggos, especially if they are old, injured, have poor eyesight or bad hearing. Old dogs and puppies can be a particularly difficult match to pull off! If you own a puppy, make sure you wear them out before introductions and teach them to focus on you, only greeting other dogs when you say so. If they are prone to excitable greetings, let them get used to being close to the other dog while separated by a stairgate until they calm down. If your dog is older, make sure they have a safe space to retire to, and keep an eye out for any signs of stress so you can step in and calm things down.
12. Get a headstart!
Trial a few things over the weeks before Christmas so that it’s not too much of a shock. From decorations to visiting other people or inviting your intended guests over early, dogs love familiarity and can be distrustful of too much change all at once. What better reason to have a pre-Christmas drink with your closest family members, or go for a communal dog walk with your friends?
You can also get some training in early, asking your dog to ‘settle’, get into ‘place’ on their dog bed, or sending them to their crate for some relaxation. Make sure they won’t jump up at guests, especially children, and start working on ‘leave it’ and ‘drop it’, just in case they get their paws on something unhealthy (or completely inedible).
So there you have it – our guide to having a very waggy Christmas with your canine companion! However you and your furry friend are celebrating this year, get to know the signs that they are stressed so you can step in and save the day if it happens. In the meantime, polish off your best dog toys, get those Good Boy dog treats ready and enjoy yourselves.