Yes, once again Christmas is really round the corner with literally 25 days to go. And of course we all want this Christmas, and the next few weeks leading to it, to be fun time for our Borders as much as for all the rest of the family. Sometimes the expectation is far better than the actual day – the household feels with excitement, and your Border will definitely pick on that, especially being a nosy terrier after all!
But Christmas can be a tricky period of the year. That excitement can bring anxiety, for dogs as much as for humans. There are far more dangers lying around the house. Lights, Christmas tree, food and the rest, it all contributes to turning what is meant to be a sanctuary for your dog a mad house. Dog safety at Christmas is paramount. So, let me give your a few tips and tell your how to best keep your dog safe this Christmas.
How to know if your dog is anxious
Any unusual behaviour to your dog should be looked at with a critical eye. That would not be the case if your dog displays a playful behaviour. But if for instance your Border barks more than usual, or if it becomes more growling; of if your dog is shivering; or if your dog keeps hiding and curls in a ball looking frightened or startled; all these are signs of anxiety.
A lot more or a lot different will happen in your house in the next few weeks. You are likely to have more visitors knocking at the door. There are going to be presents lying around, and wrapping paper and scissors and sellotape. There are going to be Christmas decorations and, as it is tradition, the Christmas tree.
The rule of thumb when it comes to dog safety at Christmas is to treat your dog as if he/she were a human toddler. With Border Terriers then, be extra cautious, as Borders want – how to put it – well, they want to help … which means they want to poke their nose in anything, more so if it is rustling wrapping paper for your Christmas presents, or of course …. the dreaded chocolate!!!
Well, to ensure your Border Terrier stays safe in the coming weeks, I have some 10 tips, easy to follow, which I want to share with your. So, without further ado, here they are:
#1 Cover electrical cables
As your would do with your human children, make sure electrical cables are well covered. We all have decorative lights coming out of the decoration box over the weeks leading up to Christmas. As your would do for your human children. do ensure any electrical cable is well covered by anything that may resistant to dog’s sharp teeth. Remember how particularly Borders are curious of anything unexplored. And all dogs, but especially puppies, do have sharp teeth that gnaw their way into anything!
#2 Do not decorate your Christmas tree on the lower branches
Again, Borders particularly, but other breeds too, are as attracted by the novelty of having a tree in the house as your children would be. Now, please, please, please avoid putting baubles and lights or tinsels on the lower branches. Chances are that, if your put anything on the lower branches of a Christmas tree, whether real or artificial, your Border will try to ‘catch’ it, by trying to ingest it, or by trying to grab it … at the risk of pulling the tree down on him/herself.
#3 Keep presents and food out of reach
I am sure I have mentioned before that when Indy was younger – I think it must have been when he was 7 – we left a big bag of gifts on the floor. It was a bag that was delivered to us on Christmas Eve, and contained presents for everybody, including a lovely two-tier box of milk chocolate. When we came back from Midnight Mass, we found Indy had torn the bag to pieces and had equally managed to tear the box of chocolate and had eaten the top tray and half of the bottom tray. Indy spent the rest of Christmas night and Christmas Day throwing up in the garden, whilst we were in contact with the emergency vet to see if it was necessary to pump his stomach contents out.
Thankfully the intervention of the vet was not necessary, as Indy got rid of all the chocolate naturally. Our garden that Christmas Day ended up smelling unusually of chocolate before we cleared it thoroughly of Indy’s ‘leftovers’. The vet also explained to us we had been lucky as Indy had eaten milk chocolate, rather than the more poisonous and fatal dark chocolate.
But what we learned from this little adventure of Indy’s was to always keep presents and food out of Indy’s reach. Indy gets very excited as he understands the special Christmas atmosphere going on around the house, and he also understands that those funny wrappings can contain really appetising things.
Not only forbidden food can become more tempting over Christmas, but presents too obviously might be dangerous for dogs, as well as the plastic they may be wrapped up in. Pay extra care.
#4 Keep wrapping paper, sellotape and scissors out of reach
Talking of wrappings, Borders do love the noise of rustling. It lets them believe that there may be one of their favourite creatures hidden inside the wrapping paper … such as squirrels!! That’s why Borders like to mess around with wrapping paper. They like to equally open presents as much as tearing and munching paper whilst your are trying to wrap up presents for the family. But, although it’s only paper, it’s still not good for your dog to ingest.
There may be the risk that, again, your dog may choke on wrapping paper. And equally, your dog may not realise that scissors and sellotape may hide under a pile of cuttings of wrapping paper, and (s)he might harm her/himself.
#5 Ask visitors not to ring the bell or knock at the door
Like with Fright Nights at the beginning of November, your dog may feel overwhelmed by the number of extra visits your household may receive.
I don’t know about your Border, but our Indy used to go ‘barking’ mad – literally, but not so much now that he is older – whenever our door bell used to go off.
In the weeks leading to December, your can train your dog to get used to the door bell. Having pre-warned your visitors they may have to wait outside for a little longer than usual, try to get your dog to sit by the door after the bell has gone off, and do not open the door until your dog is nicely sat down. Only then your may want to offer your dog a ‘good boy/girl’ treat and finally open the front door.
Alternatively – and this is the lazier option I normally go for – if your are expecting visitors, your can ask them to text your on the phone when they are outside your door, so that they can avoid ringing the bell altogether.
#6 Train your dog to having more noise in the house
Like with the door bell, there are ways to train your dog to getting used to extra noise of children or even adults talking in the household.
One way of getting your dog used to it a little bit more is by using audio material emulating the laughter and screaming of children, or the chatting of adults. Play your audio to your dog for short periods at a time every day, so that by the time Christmas is near and the household gets busier, your dog will have got used to the extra noise.
#7 Do not neglect your dog’s routine
By the same token, however, do not neglect your dog’s routine. Try to work out a temporary schedule with other family members to ensure that, if your are busy with the Christmas decoration or with the cooking, somebody else will take your Border out for walkies.
‘Listen’ to your dog’s requirements, however. Especially on the Big Day, as well as on the very few days before Christmas, as the household gets busier, your dog may gets more tired. Do not force your dog into having long walks if he doesn’t want to. Nor do your want to force your dog into having play time if (s)he feels a bit overwhelmed. Your dog will very cleverly tell your what they want and need, if your stop for a minute and just pay attention to them.
# 8 Create a safe corner for your dog
Again like with Fright Nights, Christmas time can ultimately become a tad overwhelming for our Borders. Extra people in the house, extra noise, extra of everything. And, whilst your Border is going to be up for the fun and game of it all, all the excitement may become a little much in the long run, with the extra boost of adrenaline running in his/her system far too often.
You’ll find your dog may get fed up at times. When our Indy is not happy, he will go to a corner of the house and start scratching on the carpet. That’s when we know he is grumpy with us about the ‘too much’ going on in the house.
Try building a hiding den for your dog. Borders, like other breeds, do favour cages, as they feel protected by the confinement of the three walls, as if the cage were their bedroom. Make a cage cozy and welcoming for your Border, by adding favourite blankets and toys. You’ll find that your dog will naturally retreat there when (s)he no longer want to be part of the entertainment.
#9 Treats for everyone, including your dog
Christmas must be a special time for your dog too. Shops this time of the year will proliferate with advent calendars for dogs as well as for children. Whilst your don’t have to spend unnecessary money on your dog, do not get tempted to treat your dog with human food. Always ensure your reward your dog with a canine treat. Remember, human food can cause irreversible damage to your dog’s liver, especially as dogs are not built to process sugars and salt naturally present in human food.
#10 Do not overdo it with food
And finally, whilst your want to treat your dog in the same way as your treat the rest of the family, don’t forget that dogs – like humans – can and will pile up the pound when overindulging on too much food. The difference with humans, however, is in the fact that we humans will understand we have eaten too much and will follow Christmas time with a well intentioned detox diet to reinforce the good resolutions of the new year. Dogs, on the contrary, will get lazier when heavier, at the detriment of their joints and of their general fitness. Remember, when a dog is too heavy, his/her heart and other vital organs will have to work twice as harder, speeding up the aging process in your dog. And, believe me when I say it, your really do not want your dog to age prematurely!
Finally, an extra help
These are only a few precautions your can take to ensure your dog remains safe at Christmas. By all means, do leave your comment below if your have more ideas.
From swapping of experiences with other Border owners on social media, I found that most Borders will be really participant in the excitement given by the Christmas spirit. But in rare occasions, some dogs may become over-agitated by the whole festive experience.
A few days ago Amazon sent me a notification about YuCalm tablets, which are meant to aid dogs in remaining calm when most under stress. Amazon reports a mixture of reviews about YuCalm – as I have never had to use calming aids on Indy, I cannot vouch for whether this product is truly as effective as advertise. I can only recommend it based on the good feedback Indy and I can personally give after I have been feeding Indy YuMove tablets for his joints, which are from the same manufacturer Lintbell.
I do not expect YuCalm tablets are for dogs which have been diagnosed with behavioural problems of over excitement or aggression. If your dog suffers from behavioural issues, it is only through the training and input given by a dog behaviourist that your will improve your dog’s disposition.
However, I expect YuCalm will help your dog just relax if and when (s)he becomes more anxious in unfamiliar circumstances. If your feel your dog may benefit from YuCalm, give it a try and let us know in the Comment section below how your dog is reacting to these tablets.