Christmas for the Dogs

By Christine Pleiman

Celebrating Christmas is always a joyous time. We envision our families laughing together, a fire in the fireplace, and our faithful companions lying quietly at our feet.

However, we must take special care of our furry friends during this time. Labs are curious and definitely want to be in on all the action. As Lab parents, it is up to us to keep our dogs safe and healthy during the holiday season.

The first hazard that comes to mind is the Christmas tree. Ornaments and lights can be big temptations for the curious Lab. My youngest Lab just loves to chase the reflections from shiny objects! Some ornaments smell really good, too – I’m thinking of the cute little reindeer that my kids made out of dog biscuits. They didn’t last long on the tree, and it was a good thing I was around to scoop up the pipe cleaners that were once antlers. We also have the cinnamon ornaments and oranges. Oh, and you can’t forget the strings of popcorn. My dear husband uses popcorn when training “the girls.” It was quite the mess the first – and only year – I tried to have popcorn on the tree. I have learned over the years to hang more important fragile items up high on the tree, such as glass heirloom bulbs. This protects them from the Lab’s wagging tail.

Speaking of wagging tails, make sure to keep candles up and out of the way. You don’t want your Lab knocking over a candle and spilling hot wax all over, not to mention the dangers of fire. And of course, the curious Lab might decide to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong. Ouch!

If you use a water treatment for your live tree, be sure your Lab can’t get to it. Some of these treatments can be deadly or, in the very least, make your four-legged friend very sick.

This leads to the packages beneath the tree. Watch those strings and ribbons. They look like great chewies to our Lab but can cause serious damage if ingested. The last thing you want is a trip to the vets added to your Christmas To Do List. Best to just keep those packages tucked away safely until Christmas morning. Be sure to keep track of the ribbons and wrapping during this time as well.

Treats are all around during the holiday season. Keep the chocolates out of reach and any other treats your Lab shouldn’t be getting into. Maybe a candy dish with a few dog biscuits is in order.

Holly berries and mistletoe are plants that can be dangerous to our canine friends. Keep plants up and out of reach of the Lab.

Training your dog to greet visitors in an acceptable manner will make your holiday gathering much more pleasant. Teach her that jumping up is not okay. Ask your friends to ignore your dog unless she is sitting and behaving acceptably. Having friends over before Christmas to practice this makes sense. Also, be sure your dog has a safe place to escape to if she needs to get away from the noise and excitement. A crate or a quiet bedroom should do fine.

If you are careful and aware of your Lab, you should have dog-gone good Christmas!

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