As your family gathers ‘round the Christmas tree, here are tips for keeping Fido entertained and on Santa’s nice list.
Vigorous exercise an hour or two before family gatherings will make it easier for Fido to relax. When the household activity level becomes overwhelming, let Fido take a nap in his kennel or your bedroom. On busy days, set reminder alarms on your phone for a brisk walk or game of fetch in the yard. You’ll save time in the long run because bored dogs can become destructive and demanding.
If you’re unable to actively supervise your dog, keep him away from the tree and presents. Use a baby gate or close the door. Even calm, mature dogs may be attracted to the sparkles and smells. Inquisitive dogs who chew on trees, drink from the water reservoir, play with ornaments or get tangled in electrical cords can be seriously injured. Candy canes, chocolate, fruitcake, cookies, mistletoe, poinsettias, holly, eggnog, alcohol and other holiday specialties can also be dangerous for dogs. Keep new, and used, wrapping paper, gift bags, ribbons and bows out of reach.
Wrap several new (or favorite) dog toys for Fido and hide them away. (Don’t put them under the tree as their smell may be too much for your dog.) Bones or food-fillable toys and puzzles will keep your canine occupied while the family gathers around the tree. When it’s time for the family to exchange gifts, start with Fido. Help your dog open a wrapped toy from you. When he loses interest in the first one, offer him another. If there are too many temptations, it may be time for another nap or romp in the yard.
Remember to use your obedience and manners training. Fido will enjoy the mental challenges, the ability to earn treats and praise for sitting at the door, laying on his rug and showing off his tricks.