As a follow up to my winter safety post I’d also like to offer some tips and reminders about things INSIDE our homes that need to be thought about if you have dogs.
Extra Supervision: If you only read two sentences of this blog, read this sentence and the next.
Holiday Safety for dogs comes down to supervision, supervision and more supervision. If you can’t supervise, confine Fido to a crate or room of the house where he can be safe, comfortable and most of all, where he can’t get into trouble.
Parties: If you are having a get together in your home, you need to take your dog into account. Does your dog really enjoy a houseful of people? Can she greet guests politely? If not, you need to have a plan for managing your dog’s stress and excitement while you entertain. This is one of those times when having a crate trained dog is really, really handy. Bear is very social but he gets really excited when people arrive and it’s even worse when 6 or 7 people arrive at once. When we have guests over, Bear gets a nice bone in his crate until things calm down, and then he comes out to visit. If Alcohol is being consumed you need to be doubly cautious, even the most responsible adults do silly things if they have had a few drinks and unfortunately dog’s don’t understand the effect of alcohol on the human brain (heck I don’t understand the effect of alcohol on some human brains!!!). My advice is always to keep dogs away from rowdy parties where anyone’s judgement might be impaired.
Holiday Food: Bear is also the kind of dog to help himself to whatever snacks are available on the coffee table if no one is paying attention. Some holiday food is toxic to dogs, especially chocolate…to keep dogs safe when food is out, keep dogs safely out of reach until the food is safely away OR appoint someone to monitor the dog and the food for 100% of the time – no exceptions. The other benefit of supervision or confinement when food is out is that no one will be tempted to feed your dog any tiny bits. It may seem harmless to your guests to feed your dog tidbits however if 10 guests sneak your dog snacks and then she gets her supper – her tummy is going to be REALLY upset.
Plants: Around the holidays we also have different plants in our home including trees, wreaths and poinsettias. Poinsettias are toxic, as are holly and mistletoe to dogs and if fluffy decides your wreath or centrepiece is a snack or your tree is a great pee post, you’re in for a big surprise.
Decorations: What goes on the tree can be just as tempting to Fido as the tree itself. Tinsel can get caught in their intestinal tract and plush ornaments and glass balls present a hazard if you have a toy or ball crazy dog. Lights can also be chewing & electrocution hazard.
Christmas Puppies: Christmas has to be the worst time to get a puppy…most people don’t have the time to bond with their puppy the way they should and those first few months are critical! If you must get a puppy for Christmas, I would encourage you to do your research (as you would any time of the year) and not buy the first cute ball of fur you see. Buyer’s remorse is huge at Christmas (look at Boxing Day return line-ups) and it’s not fair to take on a puppy only to give it up weeks or months later. If you would like to give a pet as a gift, why not give someone a card with an offer to pay for the adoption of the animal of their choice from a local rescue, this way they can chose the pet that suits their needs and desires. Many animals are surrendered to rescues or shelters are because of dog/owner incompatibility – You may think an active lab puppy is a great companion but your friend may have an older, less active lap dog in mind.
Of course I don’t mean for you to lock Fluffy up in the spare room until the holidays are over but I do hope the tips above help you think a little more about how you can make Fluffy as comfortable and as safe as possible. Sometimes the solution is as simple as a strategically placed baby gate or a day of dog daycare to tire your dog out before an evening get together. Just please, please, please be safe with your dogs (and other critters too) this holiday season.