Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday Training Tips

Holidays are full of excitement for our pets: houseguests, turkey, ham, gifts under the Christmas tree and other temptations. Here are a few tips to keep your pet safe and happy during the holidays.

1) Holiday Decorations, Christmas Trees and Candles – Holiday decorations are full of pretty shiny things and electric cords. However, some of these shiny things can be usafe for your pet. Avoid using tinsel and glass ornaments which can be torn off the tree, broken or, worse yet, eaten. If you have a puppy, use your management strategies such as pet gates, crates or exercise pens to prevent your puppy from getting into mischief when unattended.  Make sure electric cords are tucked out of the way or otherwise inaccessible.  Candles are another hazard, make sure they are out of reach of your pet (especially cats).

2) Holiday Treats – please remember that chocolates can be harmful to dogs so make sure that holiday chocolate is out of reach and in a safe place. Even the artificial sweetener, xylitol, has been found to be harmful to dogs.

3) Holiday Plants – plants are a popular gift or decoration during the holidays. For example, poinsettia plants are an irritant and cause vomiting so make sure holiday plants are out of your dog’s reach. If you are unsure if a plant is toxic, please visit the ASPCA poison control center at: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/

4) Guests – not everyone’s dog is a social butterfly. If your dog is shy or disturbed by having so many strangers around, make sure your dog has a safe room where he/she can rest and get some respite from all the excitement. Using management strategies like baby gates can also prevent your dog from running out the door if a guest accidentally forgets to shut the door. Conversely, not everyone is a "dog person" so giving your guests breathing room to socialize and eat can make the event more pleasant and stress-free. Training your dog to go to his/her bed or place is also handy if you want your dog to hang out in a particular spot when people are eating or hanging out. If your dog needs a little more training, using short-term management strategies like baby gates can help.

5) Food on the table - again, training your dog to station himself/herself on a mat or bed while people are eating is essential.  Teaching your dog a good "leave it" cue can also help if you are vigilent.  But the reality of the situation is that you are often too busy playing the host to worry about your dog and if your dog is not that trustworthy falling back on management strategies such as crates, baby gates, the back yard or another room are perfectly acceptable options.

6) New Year’s Eve – like 4th of July, New Year’s Eve can also involve fireworks (or in some areas people firing off guns). Please keep your pet inside to avoid mishaps. If your pet is afraid of loud noises, please see my 4th of July blog for tips for the noise phobic dog: http://pawsitivefeedback.blogspot.com/2010/06/4th-of-july-tips-for-fireworks-fearing.html

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday
and a happy New Year!

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