Dodford dog whisperer gives help and advice on how to keep your canine fit and healthy for Santa Paws

Here's Dodford dog trainer Laura Wyllie with her latest Christmas canine feature for the Daventry Express.
Watch out for elf on the shelf.Watch out for elf on the shelf.
Watch out for elf on the shelf.

This month she talks about how to keep your pet's tail wagging throughout the festive season.

What is Christmas like in your house? Decorations, family get togethers, fun, laughter, over endulgence and presents?

For many households it is an exciting time of year, but how does this affect the canine member of the family? There are lots of potential dangers around the house for dogs at Christmas, as well as stresses.

Laura with one of her dogs. Picture: Annie Bee Portrait.Laura with one of her dogs. Picture: Annie Bee Portrait.
Laura with one of her dogs. Picture: Annie Bee Portrait.

From chocolate advent calenders and chocolate tree decorations, to big tins of chocolates in wrappers. The sweet treats are everywhere and the darker it is, the worse it is for them. The theobromine found in chocolate is toxic to dogs. It can cause vomitting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures and in severe cases it can be fatal. Keep chocolate well out of paws reach.

Avoid leaving wrapped food presents under the tree, as your dog has and amazing super power - their nose! They will sniff them out.

Mince pies, Christmas pudding, Christmas cake (raisins, sultanas, currants) and grapes are often in abundance at Christmas but can cause kidney failure in dogs.

The joints of cooked meat smell very tempting to your dog and as scavengers some will swipe your Christmas turkey away in seconds. I have heard many a story of dinner ending up in the dog, including a joint of lamb wrapped in tin foil. Not only is this not a good start to your Christmas Day dinner with Auntie Edith, but it will likely result in a poorly dog and no one needs a poomagedon on Boxing Day.

Keep an eye on your pets over the festive period.Keep an eye on your pets over the festive period.
Keep an eye on your pets over the festive period.

Other dangerous foods that are common at this time of year are onions, garlic, macademia nuts and the artificial sweetener xylitol, found in sweets. Dogs may be tempted to drink unattended alcoholic drinks, make sure they are not given that opportunity....I mean put them out of reach, not drink them quicker!

We all want to treat our dogs at Christmas with a little Christmas dinner, but try not to over do it. Maybe just add a couple of bits of to their usual dinner, avoiding anything fatty, salty or with bones.

The extra noises, lights, smells, decorations and visitors can be a sensory over load to many dogs. Help them feel relaxed this Christmas by trying to keep to their daily routine as much as possible. Provide a quiet space for them to retreat to. Activtiy toys, scatter feeding, snuffle mats and stuffed kongs can entertain them whilst you are opening presents or when visitors arrive. If you have visiting children, teach them how to behave appropriately around your dog, including the importance of giving them space.

If your dog is on medication, have you got enough in?

Stay safe in the snow with your pet.Stay safe in the snow with your pet.
Stay safe in the snow with your pet.

We find Christmas can be a busy time for training enquiries. Families having a last minute panic because their dog is not keen on visitiors and asking if we can we do anything to help, because they have a house full for Christmas Dinner. Then there are the enquiries that start from Boxing Day, when dogs haven't behaved as expected. They may have growled at the children, or barked every time Uncle Frank started singing 'When Santa Got Stuck Up The Chimney".

These are all things we can help with, but unlike the fairy on top of the tree we do not have a magic wand. There are no quick fixes. Training takes time, patience and consistency. Don't let any festive disasters be due to your dog this year.

Laura's dog training sessions take place at Dodford Village Hall. For more information, visit or email Email [email protected]

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