Christmas safety for dogs

dog christmas toy karen wild

Christmas – trees twinkling with shiny objects, crinkly paper concealing goodies wrapped up underneath, mulled wine and mince pies… No, it’s not an M&S ad – it’s your home!

As you know by now, everything new, shiny, crinkly or with an interesting smell, will at some point or another attract the interest of your pup. 
You may be delighted that your newly unwrapped novelty Homer Simpson socks are rapidly disappearing across the floor in the wake of a tiny dog. Even so, consider the risk when a puppy begins to chew – and swallow – that same misguided gift. No-one wants to spend their Christmas at the Vet’s emergency surgery!
Ornaments on your tree may be the first target – or even the tree itself. Pine needles are sharp and can easily get into pads and puppy mouths. Tinsel seems great for a tug game, but quickly unravels and can easily cause choking. Ornaments will not last long with puppy teeth, and when broken can cause blockages if swallowed. Lastly, what about those twinkly lights? Pups are hugely attracted to electrical cable dangling in such a tempting way…
Consider placing your tree higher up, perhaps on a sturdy coffee table. Use self-adhesive hooks, or ‘card hangers’ that do not leave a mark, to lift electrical cables out of the way.
You can also place the gifts onto this same table, so that they still look beautiful under the tree. It may seem a bit of a ‘spoiler’, but remember to ask present givers whether or not the gift is edible. Some foods, and especially chocolate, can be harmful for dogs, and it is a tough job for some dogs and puppies to ignore the scent of food within easy reach! Keep alcoholic drinks up on tables so your dog isn’t tempted to begin their own wine-tasting event.
Supervise puppy to interrupt any jumping up or pulling at decorations or gifts. A houseline or lead attached to puppy’s collar may be a good option as long as you are around to supervise – and warn guests of what may be underfoot. You could even teach puppy an ‘off/leave’ command, and reward puppy for coming to you (and away from temptation). This is probably one of the most useful ‘Christmas’ commands you can teach, as it can also teach puppy not to jump up at your not-so-dog-welcoming visitors, too.
Karen Wild BA (Hons) Dip App Psy
Full member, APBC

Karen Wild has a degree and diploma in Psychology and has 17 years experience of training dogs and their owners