Food and family are the best things about the upcoming holidays. Since our dogs are members of our family too, many will likely be included in these festivities, but the truth is an ill or ill-mannered dog can quickly turn a wonderful holiday into a stressful situation. If you don’t want your dog jumping all over your guests, or getting sick from consuming things they shouldn’t eat around the holidays, read on!
It can be tempting to want to treat the furry, tail-wagging members of your family to some of your delicious concoctions. Before giving them goodies, it’s important that you know about some very toxic foods that could cause immense pain, neurological issues, and even death if enough of these foods are consumed by your dog.
Many people know that chocolate, raisins and alcohol are dangerous for dogs. But don’t forget about the onions and garlic that you may use to season your meal. Other potentially dangerous spices and foods include, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, macadamia nuts and walnuts. Over consumption of sugar from cakes, puddings, pies, and even cranberry sauce can cause pancreatitis. Even the turkey skin can be dangerous due to the high fat content (which can also cause pancreatitis). Also, cooked bones are much more likely to splinter than uncooked bones, and can not only cause stomach upset, but can also get stuck in your dog’s throat or digestive tract which can be very dangerous.
While all this may make us sound like party-poopers, there are some healthy snacks that you can give your dog as a special Thanksgiving treat. Raw or cooked carrots and green beans are healthy and low calorie treats. Also, fresh or canned pumpkin is proven to help dog’s digestion. You can even treat your dog to a small amount turkey if it is skin-less and not heavily seasoned. Keep in mind that some dogs’ digestive systems are more sensitive than others, so even healthy treats can sometimes cause stomach upset.
Holiday Training Tips
Food isn’t the only thing to think about if you are hosting or attending a big family get together over the holidays with your dog. Common behavior problems that might put a damper on your dinner are jumping on or mouthing guests, counter surfing, and begging at the table.
Jumping and mouthing are attention seeking behaviors. This means that the best way to train your dog to not jump and mouth is to completely remove any possibility of attention by walking away and completely ignoring your dog. Your dog behavior may get worse before it gets better (this is called an extinction burst), but dogs only do what works, and so over time, your dog will figure out that jumping and barking no longer work as a means of getting attention. Once your dog has learned to not jump on you, invite guests over to help with a training session so your dog can learn that the no-jumping rule applies to everyone, not just you. If your guests are unwilling or unable to ignore your dog’s attention seeking behaviors, it is important that you immediately remove your dog from the greeting to reinforce that jumping and mouthing never gets them attention. It also helps to reward calm behavior by giving treats and attention anytime you see your dog greeting with four paws on the floor, politely asking for attention by sitting and waiting in front of you, or laying down in the presence of guests.
Keeping food out on the counter or table can often prove to be too tempting for your otherwise polite pooch. To prevent counter surfing and begging, you can teach your dog to stay out of your kitchen and dining area, or even a “Place” or “Go Lay Down” command. It is equally as important to avoid feeding your dog from the counter or table, and instead feed any goodies in their dog bowl. If you catch your dog counter surfing or begging, immediately remove them from the area and encourage them to instead go to their “Place” or “Go Lay Down.”
Just imagine your dog showing your family what a polite and calm dog they can be. You CAN enjoy the holidays with your dog if you take the time to teach them the important skills needed to be that polite pooch!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Lucky Paws!
Written By: Jessi Weaver