The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
The holiday season is made all the more precious when then is a cute bundle of fur bounding around. We can always count on our wonderful pets to bring much joy to the festivities and traditions. Bringing loved ones together and enjoying precious family time, what more could we ask for? A perfect family Christmas!!
But in reality . . . a puppy at Christmas can be fraught with chaos. From no sleep to toileting accidents to chewing Grandmas new slippers to chasing and playing rough with the children to pinching a mince pie! Not quite as picture perfect as you’d hoped?
Let’s dive straight in!
1. Puppy Proofing
Puppy proofing your home is one of the most important things you can do for your puppy during this festive season to keep them safe from the many hazards at this time of year, but also to make it as stress free as possible for every one in the family. Here are some things to make sure you have everything covered:
Always make sure your puppy has a safe space such as a crate or den set up slightly out of the way in a quieter corner of the house where they can have safe, undisturbed downtime.
2. Keep the Routine
From as young as 8/9 weeks of age we recommend establishing a day time routine so your puppy has regular periods of undisturbed sleep throughout the day. This amazing sleep routine not only ensures they have enough sleep but it also helps to reduce mouthing and play biting and other undesirable behaviours that often manifests themselves when a puppy gets overtired.
To learn more about how to establish a day time routine that will literally save your life this Christmas time, check out our 5 Day Puppy that Sleeps Challenge here!
When the house is full of visitors and the busyness of the festivities, it is really easy to let the toileting and sleep routine lapse. All the visitors can be simply exhausting for your puppy.
Ensure you keep taking them out to the toilet regularly. Give them plenty of down time to prevent over-excitability. Use food dispensing toys such as a stuffed kong to entertain them quietly in the crate or another room. This can be particularly helpful when guests are arriving and leaving.
Make sure you have periods of time each day for both mental and physical exercise. This could be walks or focused activities such as recall games or scent games if they are not able to go out for walks yet. Practicing a repertoire of basic commands can mentally stimulate and tire them out.
One of the common mistakes people make with a young puppy is to have them with everyone ALL of the time, especially when everyone is off school and work over the holidays. It is so important the puppy gets used periods of time on their own from day one, even if everyone is at home. This will prevent problems like separation anxiety developing as they get older.
After an hour or awake time playing, take them out to the toilet then settle them in the crate with a kong or licky mat and cover the crate over for an hour to let them sleep. Make sure no one disturbs them and after an hour wake them up and take them straight out to the toilet. Repeating this routine throughout the day keeps your puppy well rested but also gives the family periods of time to chill and not to be on puppy watch.
3. Supervise your Puppy
Puppies are a little bit like toddlers, bundles of fun that don’t really have any awareness of safety or hazards. It is therefore really important that they are supervised, crated or in a secure enclosed area to prevent getting into any sort of mischief.
Do not be afraid to use the crate when your puppy is unsupervised or when you are busy cooking the dinner or opening presents. Your puppy does not need to be with you all the time. It keeps them safe from house hold hazards, prevents toileting accidents, prevents over excitement and play biting with children. The crate should never be used as punishment but always be flooded with positivity so it is a really happy, calm and settled place that they love to be. Learn more about introducing the crate so your puppy will LOVE LOVE LOVE it here!
It is also really important to not leave young children to supervise the puppy alone as things can quickly get out of hand when you are not there to intervene.
Over the festive season, there are so many more hazards around the home so supervising your puppy is really important.
4. Hazard Awareness
Over the Christmas period, the home is full or hazards. Here are some common ones to be aware of and to ensure theses things stay out of reach at all times.
- Fairly Lights – wires are a chewing hazard.
- Tinsel and Trimmings – can be a choking hazard and get caught in the intestines if ingested and need emergency surgery so best avoided.
- Wrapping Paper – does not digest very well if consumed so avoid the vets bill and keep out of reach.
- Chocolate – toxic to dogs so keep well out of reach.
- Candles – always make sure they are blown out when unsupervised out also out of reach from being knocked with waggy tails.
- Snowglobes – contain antifreeze so keep away from the edge of surfaces where they may be likely to fall and break and lapping any up is hazardous for the puppy.
- Pine Needles – make sure pine needles are swept up regularly as they can cause an obstruction if ingested.
5. Preparations for Guests
Of course the guests are all going to pleased to see the puppy and want to greet them. It is important to remember though that this is a vital training ground for them and a really good way to establish good manners around guests, if you teach them the basics when they are young.
Here are a few practical tips to help prepare your puppy for guests whilst preventing over excitement:
- Keep your puppy away from the front door during in guests arriving and departing.
- Use a stuffed kong or scatter feeding as a positive distraction in the crate or another safe space until the commotion has died down a little.
- Have a mixed bag of high value treats on you to reward calm behaviour when you see it.
- Encourage calm behaviour such as sitting to greet people.
- Discourage your puppy from jumping up by requesting the guests to turn their backs and ignore the puppy if they jump up.
- If there are going to be several young children arriving, try and time the routine so the puppy is due their 1 hour nap.
- Teaching your puppy to love the crate will mean they are more than happy to be in there whenever needed.
6. Travel Preparations
Plan your journey carefully, ensuring you have sufficient toilet stops. Make sure you take veterinary contacts with you and be sure to check out the nearest veterinary hospital just incase of emergency whilst you are away.
7. Festive Food
Festive foods are notorious for being risky to dogs. Make sure you know all the foods that are toxic to your puppy and what to do if you suspect your puppy has eaten something they shouldn’t.
- minced pies, stollen, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.
- grapes and dried fruits such as raisins or currants.
- blue cheese and other salty/fatty foods.
- nuts – in particular macademia nuts.
- CHOCOLATE – of any brown variety is very toxic to dogs.
- Sweet wrappers – can be ingested and cause intestinal problems.
- Sage and Onion Stuffing.
If you suspect your dog may have eaten any of the above things, it is important to talk to your vet immediately for further advice. They will ask questions such as what have they eat, how much etc. Acting fast is essential to give your puppy the best possible chance for effective treatment.
Symptoms from toxic foods can often take 48 hours to show themselves so it is important to know they signs and symptoms too. These include:
- Being disorientated or wobbly on the feet.
- Bumping into things.
- Fitting or shaking.
- Sickness or diarrhoea.
- Generally unwell.
8. toxic Plants
It is the time of year where we bring the outside in with a range of poinsettias, conifers, mistletoe and ivy. All of which are beautiful and bring a lovely festive feel to the home but it is important to know that many of these are indeed harmful to dogs if they are chewed on. To learn more about specific toxic plants and why, click here.
If these plants can’t be avoided altogether, make sure they are situated way out of reach to reduce the chances of them finding their way into your puppies mouth!
9. Keep it Clean & Tidy
The best way to reduce the hazards and the chance of your puppy picking something up that they shouldn’t have is to keep the place as clean and tidy as possible.
Putting wrapping paper away as gifts get opened, clearing up sweet wrappers, putting dinner left overs straight in the bin. Sweep up pine needles daily as these can irritate the mouth and stomach and lead to obstruction issues.
Be aware of guests belongings, put shoes, coats and hand bags up and out of reach or store in a bedroom with a closed door to remove temptations.
10. Have lots of Festive Fun
Do not let the stress of looking after your puppy make you forget to have fun. Use the crate for plenty of well-earned down time with food dispensing toys such as a stuffed kongs for entertainment.
Here are some ideas of fun things to do with your puppy this Christmas:
- Get dressed up in Christmas outfits.
- Take funny selfies of you and your puppy.
- Get dressed up for the party!
- Go on some lovely wintery walks
- Play some fun doggy party games.
- Snuggle up together in front of the fire for movie and snuggles.
- Go on a Christmas light walks.
- Bake some scrummy doggy festive treats.
- Make it memorable for the whole family.
Christmas is for fun, walks, yummy food, family and laughter. Make the most of this festive season but keep your puppy safe. No one wants any unexpected visits to the vets! Putting this useful tips into place and maintaining some house rules, good manners and routine will make it enjoyable for everyone. A well rested puppy will be on good form for learning and socialising positively with everyone.
We wish you all a very Happy Christmas!