It is hard to believe that we are wrapping up 2014 already! Feels like it wasn’t too long ago that Canines By Design opened its doors in Victoria and started sharing information and education! As we all get ready for the holidays, we wanted to just remind everyone of a cornerstone concept for Canines By Design – Setting Up For Success – and how employing this thought process will help you and your dog stay happy and healthy as you embark on the New Year.
Deck the halls with dog-safe practices!
The holiday season usually brings with it a change in décor in the house, with decorations, garland, candles, wreaths, and sometimes Christmas trees being introduced into the home environment. Some of our favorite decorations are very toxic and very dangerous to canines and are especially important to keep at a safe distance from their inquisitive mouths.
- Poinsettias, Lilies, Holly, and Mistletoe are all very toxic to dogs and can kill. If you have a canine that is new to a house full of holiday cheer or you are entertaining guests and cannot monitor your canine effectively, DO NOT use these in your house. If you feel they must be there, try using the faux (silk) variety of the plants to eliminate the risk.
- Snow globes can contain ethylene glycol (antifreeze), which is inviting to dogs because it tastes sweet, but is a serious player in unintentional deaths from poisoning. Place them where they can’t be looked at as balls to play with.
- While Tinsel isn’t “toxic”, it is extremely dangerous. It grabs
and cuts at the walls of the intestine and can be deadly if ingested. Keep all tinsel out of reach or try a new decoration with less serious consequences.
- We have all seen pictures of the fallen Christmas tree and offending dog looking guilty beside it. Instead of inviting disaster (and broken ornaments) into your home, tether your tree to the wall if possible. A couple of nails and some baling twine will eliminate a big risk. If you think it looks “ugly,” you can decorate the twine with ribbon or hang your Christmas cards along it to hide it!
- Holiday Foods: Grapes, Raisins, and Currants can all cause
Kidney failure in canines. Chocolate contains theobromine, which is highly toxic to dogs. Fatty Foods such as skin and gravy in large quantities can cause inflammation of the pancreas, abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody, loose stools. While I think if turkey is being served, everyone should have a little piece at Christmas (ok, not those with a poultry allergy), don’t give your dog the scraps. Save them a little piece of lean meat that they can snack on later for good behaviour and make sure that you don’t feed them at the dinner table. Try to also avoid putting snacks and treats on low counters and tables as they might be just a little too inviting for those new puppies and rescues that have recently joined the family.
T.A.P. A better Relationship:
One of our first posts this year, T.A.P. stands for Train, Appropriate Activity, and being Positive, positive, positive. Remembering this acronym is an easy way to remember to work with your canine throughout the holiday season and how you can make sure their needs and requirements are still being met amongst the celebrating and family time.
Take time everyday to work through the various commands that your canine already knows. Two 10-minute sessions a day with my Labrador are enough to run through the expansive list of behaviors that my boy knows (and even includes helping me tidy up the recycling around the house, and putting plastic bottles into the appropriate bin!). Also try changing up the location when you are doing the training session. Maybe one day you will work on the commands at home, and the next you will perform them while out on your walk. See any differences? Behaviors can change depending on the environment so “proofing commands” in different locations with different environmental factors will help ensure that your canine will listen the next time it wants to run across the field to say hello to their best buddy.
A: Appropriate Activity
Daily exercise is as important to a canine’s health as it is to ours. All breeds, small, large, flat-nosed, round, or dainty, will benefit from activity every single day. The key to this is appropriate activity. Dogs come in quite a spectrum of sizes that have a direct impact on their physical capabilities. So think of activities that are appropriate to the physical limitations of the canine (e.g. age, size, and breed related restrictions) as well as positive for their development and behaviour (e.g. non-destructive behaviour). It is important that these limitations are taken into account while partaking in daily activities to ensure that your daily play sessions are fun, productive, and free from harm.
P: Positive, Positive, Positive
The third, while arguably the simplest, can be the most difficult to embrace 100% of the time. It is to keep interactions, activities, and environmental situations positive for both you and your canine. Just like in our human education system, encouraging and constructive environments develop well-adjusted individuals keen to contribute positively to those around them. The same goes for you and your dog: keeping interactions positive will ensure that you both are willing and ready the next time a training situation arises. I like to tell clients that they should always “set up for success.” Set up your canine to succeed as best he can, as often as possible. You will be happy your dog is succeeding, and he/she will be happy that they are doing the appropriate, and rewarding, thing. Most importantly, your canine will be willing to “play-ball” again as they learn that success feels GREAT!!
This is a very busy time of year. As forward-thinking canine caregivers, we attempt to balance the needs our families including our four-legged members. Holidays provide a break; a chance to have fun, smile and remember what we are grateful for. Incorporating this list is just a small step to ensure that your canine stays safe and has as much fun as you! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas everyone!