Hoorah! That’s it! The election is over, schools are breaking up for school holidays, we find ourselves permanently humming jingle bells under our breath and our personal mince pie consumption count is approaching double figures (don’t judge). That warm, fuzzy, festive feeling has taken hold – Christmas is here.
There is nothing better than celebrating Christmas with a new puppy. There are so many cute puppy Christmas-related things to treat him with – from stuffed stockings to canine elf costumes, it is a great way to get into the festive spirit by indulging the furry new member of the family with all things Christmas-themed.
There are – as always – things to bear in mind, however, from an elf and safety perspective (sorry). It is important to keep your new puppy secure and happy and to also use the opportunity to teach them to be a well-behaved member of the family over the Yule-tide period. (Shame we can’t teach rude Auntie Margaret to be a well-behaved member of the family too, while we are at it, but never mind about that….)
Follow our top tips for Puppy’s First Christmas and you will shimmy into the New Year with a happy, healthy puppy who doesn’t need hundreds of pounds worth of extra puppy training (or worse, a big vet’s bill to remove a Christmas ornament from a paw). We have put together some things to consider to ensure you can enjoy your first Christmas with puppy, relaxed in the knowledge that you got this all wrapped up! (We will try to keep the Christmas puns to a minimum; but are not promising anything).
Be as switched on as your Christmas Lights
Your puppy’s first Christmas is an exciting time for them—you’re ostensibly bringing a clump of the garden into the inside of the house and covering it in glittery dog-toy sized objects, let’s be fair! A large factor in making your new pup’s first Christmas successful is ensuring they are well supervised (or even kept away from) activities like setting up the tree. For these activities, putting puppy in a safe place like the crate will make sure that they have a secure spot when you can’t supervise completely. For jobs such as wrapping presents, decorating the tree and house, and for certain parties, the safe place will offer security and safety easily.
When you are not there for supervision, it is a good idea to keep your puppy well away from the tree and any decorations. You may need to take the puppy-proofing to a new level over Christmas and be more aware than usual of parcels and people coming into the house. Don’t put the presents under the tree, keep electrical cords unplugged, make sure all candles and incense are extinguished when you are out of the house.
Deck the halls with a little less holly
There is no doubt that puppy proofing your home at Christmas is a challenge. Often ornaments just look like dog toys – they are sparkly and twinkly and perfect size to seize in the jaws. Keep them all out of reach. You might want to even think about a puppy gate around the tree to keep puppy completely safe (and keep the tree looking nice and un-weed upon)
In addition, for this year, avoid using any tinsel or ribbons. If eaten, these long foreign bodies can get caught in the intestines and require complex, emergency abdominal surgery. Be aware that some decorations also include poisonous “ingredients”: snow globe-type decorations, for example, may contain antifreeze to keep them from cracking. Be sure to keep them out of puppy’s reach.
Keep up Puppy’s Routine (even when your routine goes out the window!)
It is super easy to get totally relaxed when in the middle of the holiday season. We all know that wonderful hazy feeling of not even having any concept of even what day it is in that heady, alcohol-sozzled period of Christmas and New Year. While it’s easy to get lost in the chaos of the holiday season; for your puppy’s sake, it’s important to maintain his routine. A common mistake which new puppy owners make when they have time off, is to spend every moment with their dog and shower him in holiday affection, but it is much better for puppy to stick to the more everyday routine – this is much better preparation for the schedule that the puppy will have to continue come January, and therefore much kinder in the long run.
Sticking with your routine means remembering to make time in your day for walks, as keeping your puppy happy and well behaved in the midst of the excitement is dependent upon them getting enough physical and mental exercise. (This goes for humans too** Not to mention it will burn off a little bit of the extra helpings of everything that we like to indulge in over Christmas. Good for everyone, in other words!)
Tired puppies are often more biddable puppies. A decent lark about in the park before any party or gathering will do puppy good and ensure that they are a bit calmer when friends and family come around.
Do be sure to give your puppy plenty of quiet time away from loud parties and excitement in amongst all the comings and goings. And – no doubt – as a house with a new puppy you are likely to be targeted even more. Remember that large gatherings can often be overwhelming to puppies, so you want to keep those engagements positive and not overdo it.
Step into Christmas with Military Planning
If you’re going to be on the road with your puppy this Christmas, you will certainly need to plan ahead to make sure the holiday adventure will be fun and safe. Don’t forget to pack dog toys, treats and your puppy’s crate if you are spending time away from home. Read our top tips on taking the dog on trips in our blog called 'Road trip'.
It is also a good idea to know in advance your vet’s hours in case you need help, and locate the closest out of hours veterinary hospital to where you’ll be staying.
Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings? Not for puppy…
Christmas dinner is no doubt the most delicious mix of all of our favourite things – but most of it is not at all suitable for puppy. Resist the temptation to “treat” puppy with leftovers that will be far too rich for his tummy. Remind your guests not to feed your puppy anything off their plates and be super vigilant to steer clear of chocolate, sweets or peanut butter containing Xylitol, raw bread dough and bones of any kind.
IF you want to treat your puppy at Christmas time, why not try some of our gorgeous Nature's Harvest treats.
Enjoy Christmas Together
Taking walks as a family with the dog is always a good idea to work off the excesses, and a play in the park will help the kids stop scratching each other’s eyes out over whose turn it is on the new devices. Encourage all the family to join in on the outdoor fun. Start a new Christmas tradition for a long walk on Boxing Day morning, for instance. Let your new puppy be the instigator of some new healthy holiday habits!
Merry Christmas to all of you from NHHQ. May you – and all your canines – be happy and healthy and may they help you to enjoy the very best bits of the holidays – togetherness and community (and mince pies, lots of mince pies. Just not for the dog.)
** Note to self: try with Auntie Margaret