The holiday is a time for your family and friends to get together and enjoy each other’s company. The last thing you want is to worry about your dog the whole time. Your guest will appreciate not having your dog beg and drool over their food the minute they sit down for dinner. Start now to teach your dog the "down/stay" command so he'll lie down quietly on the other side of the room. Practice at every meal! If your dog hasn't become reliable by holiday time, use your dog crate and confine him while your guests are eating.
While you are at it, teach your dog the command "Leave it!" This is most effective when you see the dog thinking about getting into something. The INSTANT he turns away from the unwanted item, praise lightly and offer a small treat as a reward. Since this command is only effective when you catch the dog in the act begin by setting small treats around the house and the instant he thinks about going for it correct him. Don’t forget you have to reward him for not getting it.
Here are some helpful tips on how to keep your dog safe throughout the holiday season…
• If you have a real Christmas tree, keep the water in the stand covered so your animals can’t drink it. The pine sap is dangerous if ingested.
• Secure the tree to a wall or the ceiling with fishing line and a hook to prevent pets from knocking it over.
• Tree lights should not be left on when you’re not around, since your pets may tangle themselves in the cords. Unplug the tree lights when you’re not using them.
• Once you’ve decorated your tree, pick up all tinsel, ribbon and ornament hooks on the floor. These glittery items may be attractive playthings to your pets, but they can get sick if they ingest them. If a gastrointestinal blockage occurs, surgery may be needed to save your pet.
• If your pets express interest in playing with the decorations on the tree, decorate the bottom third of the tree with wood or plastic ornaments that won’t break.
• Keep all gifts that contain human food off the floor so that pets are not tempted by the smells. Human treats can be dangerous for pets – especially food containing chocolate, alcohol, raisins and onions.
• Holiday plants such as poinsettias and mistletoe can be dangerous, too, if your pets chew on them. Keep holiday plants well out of reach of your pets, or buy artificial plants. (www.Bestfriends.org)
• Antifreeze tastes sweet and many dogs are attracted to it. Just a few drops can be fatal.
• Hypothermia can pose a danger during severe cold. Puppies, old dogs, and sick dogs are most vulnerable. Dress your dog in winter clothing or restrict outdoor time. Provide snug shelter. Warm your dog quickly if he starts to shiver.
• Ice-melting chemicals and salt can irritate paws or cause digestive upsets if swallowed.
• Booties help protect sensitive paws. (http://joybutler.suite101.com/)
• Make sure the cord to your outdoor lights is out of reach of the dog if he will be outside unsupervised. He could chew through the cords of get tangled in it.