What on earth are us humans doing? Collecting boxes down from the loft and suddenly filling the house with flashing lights and tempting food. And none of it can be sniffed, touched, chewed or swallowed. What a pity for our dogs! They may like decorations, but for all the wrong reasons. It is time to be vigilant and check that your beloved pooch can’t reach the spiky holly or the pretty poinsettia.
A real tree might suddenly appear in the lounge, but it is out of bounds to leg-cocking, so be careful where you arrange those electric lights. Even an artificial one is a sudden and strange intrusion. All those dangling baubles and shiny tinsel and even chocolates hanging down. Make sure you put yours on only the highest boughs and never leave the tree unattended. You would be astounded at the reach of a determined dog. Use shatterproof ornaments, and think about putting the tree up on a coffee table or even behind a fire guard. It is simply not worth the life-threatening issues that might occur if your dog decides any of these things are a tasty snack.
As presents start to arrive, keep them well out of reach, because dogs don’t have handy calendars to tell them it is not Christmas yet. Ask givers if the gifts contain anything edible and again, don’t be afraid to put them up on a table to prevent any spoilers.
We had an interesting incident last year where an unwanted (coconut, much hated in our house) chocolate from an advent calendar rolled off the mantelpiece and into the happily waiting mouth of our little terrier Maisie. It was a traumatic moment for us as we retrieved it. Maisie adores chocolate and, unlike our other dogs, would do anything to earn it. Luckily this was the only incident and she is very small. If she were larger there would need to be no chocolates anywhere. This is not just a training issue (she is very good at being called away) but once they can access it, you have a serious problem. Chocolate is extremely poisonous to dogs, so don’t take the risk, not even once.