Nicole Wall - December 15 2021

Does My Dog Know it's Christmas?

Have you ever considered what Christmas must be like for your dog? While some dogs may see this time of the year as exciting and fun others may find it quite stressful. Your dog may not understand what the holidays are but they do understand patterns and can pick up on your excitement. Changes to your home décor (Why is mom putting a tree inside the house?!), brightly wrapped gifts under the tree (Yes, dogs can see some colors), and more visitors stopping by (like those delivery people coming to the door more frequently). These are all changes to your dog’s normal routine. Let’s take a look at each of these things and learn how to make the holidays a joyful time for your dog too.

The Christmas Tree

According to Dr. Elfenbein of Pet MD a A live tree can be especially hazardous. Dogs and cats like to chew on the limbs, and the fir tree oils can be irritating to the mouth tissue, causing such symptoms as drooling and vomiting. Also, if your pet is chewing on the branches, there is a good chance he is also swallowing some of the needles. When ingested, pine needles can get caught in the intestinal tract, puncturing the lining or bunching together and causing an intestinal obstruction. Both can have deadly consequences. You should be careful with artificial trees as well, because they can cause the same kind of obstruction, and pets are likely to chew those crunchy needles, too. The best solution is limiting your pets’ access to the area where you are setting up your Christmas tree. In some cases, this can be achieved with a dog pen that surrounds the tree. Another danger that comes from having a live tree is the water that is placed at the base of the tree. Some trees are treated with chemical preservatives to keep them fresh longer. These chemicals leach into the water in the tree base, making the water poisonous to drink. And pets will definitely drink the water if the base is left uncovered. You can cover it with a festive tree skirt, or you can use a towel, plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Tinsel is one of the most dangerous tree decorations you can choose. If your pet ingests even a few strands of tinsel—and pets do this more often than you might guess—she is highly likely to suffer the ill, and even deadly effects, of an intestinal obstruction. The same goes for edible ornaments, such as popcorn and cranberry strings and candy canes. The strings can tear the intestines, endangering your pet’s life. Leave these things off your tree, or your pet will be climbing the tree to get to them.

Christmas Presents

All that pretty packaging can be very enticing to your dog. Ribbons to pull on, paper to rip up, shiny bows. Wrapped gifts can look like new toys to your dog. If you have a dog that is a chewer or routinely gets into mischief, then it is not a good idea to leave him or her unattended around a tree with presents under it. Ribbons and bows can also cause intestinal obstruction. Not to mention the mess you will have to deal with if your furry friend decides to tear up all that paper. Keep in mind your dogs nose is so much stronger than a humans. They possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us. And the part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is about 40 times greater than ours. Keep this in mind if you have any gifts under the tree containing foods or smelling like food (like those yummy scented candles). Yummy smells can attract even the most well-behaved dogs. Keep those gifts out of reach when you are not around.

Delivery People 

Does your dog go nuts when the delivery driver comes to the door? Do you wonder why he or she is not used to the mail carrier coming each day? The plain and simple reason why so many dogs dislike the mail carrier or delivery driver is because this is a battle that occurs every day that the dog can win – at least until the next day. Look at this from the dog’s point of view. He’s at home where life is calm, quiet, and secure. He’s in his territory. Then the mail carrier or delivery driver comes to the door, drops something through the slot, or rings the bell and delivers a box. The dog barks ferociously and the mail carrier or delivery driver leaves. In the dog’s mind, his barking and defense of his home is what has caused the trespasser to leave. He has won again. Instead of yelling at your dog (which he sees as you joining in on the barking) try distracting your dog, and redirecting his attention to you when someone comes to the house. For example, if you teach the dog to come find you when someone comes to the house, this can change his focus from the delivery person to you. 

I hope these tips will help both you and your dog have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. We would love to hear from you so leave a comment below if you have found this article helpful or if you have any tips of your own to share.

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