Christmas is Coming …

YAY … Christmas is Coming!!  

Razz & Zeek under the Christmas tree

Spending the Christmas holidays with our dog can be a joyful and heartwarming experience. As a dog trainer based on Auckland’s North Shore, and having 4 dogs of my own, I understand the importance of including your furry friends in the festive celebrations. This season is a time for joy, and including your dog in the celebrations can make it even more special. So, whether your dog’s a seasoned holiday veteran or it’s their first Christmas, here are some tips to ensure they have a paw-sitively wonderful time.

SAFETY FIRST — With the holiday festivities comes potential hazards:

  • Keep an eye on your dog to prevent them from eating anything harmful. 
  • Be cautious with open flames, such as candles and fire-pits.
  • Secure the Christmas tree!!
  • Secure electrical cords and flashing lights to avoid any accidents
  • Vet check-up to ensure your dog is in good health and all vaccinations are up to date.
  • Check the Temperature – avoid leaving your dog in the car – if you need to then ensure there is adequate ventilation.

1. Christmas Decorations:

When decorating your home, keep your dog in mind. Opt for dog-safe ornaments and decorations. Skip the tinsel and fragile ornaments that could be tempting to curious paws. Are you planning to have a Christmas tree?  Make sure you secure it carefully to prevent any mishaps and ensure any electrical cords are out of reach. Opt for a sturdy tree stand and be cautious with the tree water, as some additives that prolong your tree’s life can be harmful to dogs. It’s also a good idea to supervise your dog around the tree to prevent them from chewing on branches, knocking down ornaments or using it as a toilet. Consider putting a little fence around the tree and presents to prevent any early unwrapping!

2. Create a Cozy Corner for Dog Friendly Gatherings:

Are you hosting guests or attending gatherings? Amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, take a moment to consider your dog’s comfort level. Pay attention to your dog’s body language and respect their need for space.  Some dogs may be overwhelmed by large crowds, so having a plan in place to ensure their comfort is essential.  Create a quiet and comfortable space where they can retreat if needed. This retreat can provide a sense of security when guests arrive or during noisy celebrations. Communicate with your guests about your dog’s needs and ensure they respect them. Fill your dog’s cozy retreat with their bed, favourite toys, water bowl and a few yummy treats.

If your dog is sensitive to fireworks or loud noises and celebrations, consider utilising a crate or puppy pen for your dogs safety and security and setting it up in a quiet area of your home away from the festivities. The use of anxiety wraps can be soothing or consult with your vet about calming supplements/sprays.

3. Gift Ideas for Your Pup:

We all love receiving presents at Christmas time so why not include your dog in the gift-giving tradition!  Wrap up their special gifts just for them to unwrap on Christmas morning. Watching them excitedly tear open their gifts not only provides entertainment but also strengthens the bond between you and your canine companion.  

When choosing your dog’s gifts, there are so many options on the market today.  Consider something that your dog will enjoy not only at Christmas but for many days to come.  Good options are enriching things like toys, a warm blanket, a new cozy bed or even a tasty treat.

4. Dog-Safe Treats:

While you’re indulging in your festive feast, remember to share the joy with your dog too. This doesn’t mean sharing your human treats, be cautious about sharing table scraps. Some human foods, like chocolate, onion, garlic, grapes, cooked bones and certain spices can be toxic and harmful to dogs. Why not get organised early and prepare a special dog-safe Christmas meal, special treats or purchase them from your local pet store. Utilising slow feeders or puzzles is a great way to give your dog a new delicious meal as well as keeping them occupied while you’re enjoying your own celebrations.

5. Exercise, Training & Playtime:

Amidst the holiday hustle, it’s important to maintain your dog’s regular exercise and training routine. A well-exercised dog is more likely to be calm and well-behaved. So, engage them in mental stimulation activities like puzzle toys or fun training sessions to keep their minds active. Take them for a brisk walk or engage in some playtime to burn off excess energy. Why not take advantage of the beautiful summer weather we are expecting and plan some outdoor activities with your dog – a trip to a local beach, a hike in the forest, a trip to a dog-friendly park, or setting up an obstacle course in your own backyard. Physical activity not only helps to alleviate any stress your dog may feel during the busy season BUT it can be good for topping up your own energy levels too!  

It’s also an excellent time to just reinforce your dog’s good behaviour by using positive reinforcement techniques to reward them; including treats, praise, affection or even a special toy.

7. Capture the Moments:

Cherish the moments spent with your dog during the holiday season. Whether it’s a festive photoshoot, a cozy cuddle session, or a simple walk, these shared experiences create lasting memories for both you and your dog. Documenting the holiday moments with your dog with a snapshot of them in a festive bandana, a candid shot of them opening their gifts, or a video of them playing at the beach or park … these memories will be cherished for years to come.

By making sure you take a moment to plan ahead for your holiday celebrations you can ensure that Christmas is a fun and safe time for both you and your dog. After all, the holidays are about celebrating with our loved ones right!  AND our dog are undoubtedly an integral part of our family festivities.  


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