Nov 03

Holiday Safety For Your Dog

Pug stealing cookiesEach year during the Holiday Season veterinarians see more gastrointestinal cases than they do during the other 10 months.  This stems from all the “stuff” our pets eat which their digestive systems can’t handle.  We want them to be able to partake in our festive activities but we don’t want to make them ill in the process.  There are several ways our pets get these “little meals” during the Holidays!

  • Getting into the trash
  • Feeding scraps
  • Counter surfing

The first two are fairly easy to prevent by not feeding our pets Holiday table scraps and by making sure the trash is taken out after cleaning.  We are going to touch on ways to help prevent the third one, “counter surfing”.

Counter surfing is the name given to the act of stealing things off a counter or table.  Our pets have such a keen sense of smell that if they can find the smallest amounts of drugs hidden in luggage, they can also easily smell all those great goodies sitting on the counter while we are eating our Holiday meals.  I am sure most of you have experienced things disappearing from your counters.  What can we do to help our canine friends?

Compare counter surfing to playing scratch off lottery.  You buy a ticket.  Your dog sniffs the air.  You scratch the ticket; your dog jumps on the counter. You win $1.00; your dog finds a piece of cake.  Do you see the pattern?  You may only win once in a while, but the thought of winning keeps you buying tickets.  If your dog ever finds food on the counter, he or she will continue to check back to see what treasure is awaiting him or her!

While I am in the kitchen, I often like to give my dogs healthy dog treats if they are sitting or lying quietly. The treats should come from your pocket or some other area, never the counter!  This will teach your dog that sitting or lying quietly is rewarding and as we all know, behaviors that are rewarded are repeated.

A method I use to teach dogs to go to a specific place while cooking in the kitchen or in the dining room eating, begins by placing a dog bed in a corner of the room or just outside the room where you can see him or her.  I then lure them on to the bed, have them lie down and stay, then give them a healthy dog treat.  I continue by treating them every 30 seconds and slowly increase the time between treats.  You’ll find that eventually your canine companions will start going to their bed without being asked!  Don’t forget to reward them when they do this on their own.

Remember, training our dogs not to jump on the counter not only makes the Holidays more fun for us, but makes it safe and fun for them as well!

Have a Safe and Fun Holiday Season!

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