How to ensure your dog has the best Christmas ever, by top trainer Ben Randall
Dogs can enjoy Christmas just as much as their owners – and maybe even more. But there are a few things to consider as we step into the festive season, as Ben Randall explains.
Christmas is always part of it at my BG headquarters in Herefordshire All of our family members, especially the three dogs that live in the house. Everyone is treated equally and everyone gets gifts, including the dogs. My wife Nikki loves to treat them and spends a lot of time choosing gifts and wrapping them carefully.
Lady Tweed in particular – our Border Terrier – has an innate ability to open any gift on command; it’s definitely her trick for the Christmas party. This unique talent allows her to rip off wrapping paper one inch at a time and spread it all over the floor like confetti before revealing the gift herself, which is usually a natural chew, dog toy or something she can play with.
Our other two house dogs, Roe (a Bavarian Mountain Hound) and Nell (a black Lab) don’t have that talent, so my two sons, Joe and Jack, open their presents for them. It’s become something of a ritual that we enjoy with them every year and always bring smiles, not least because Nell, my perfectly behaved retired hound, doesn’t really get what it’s about and always with a look present looks confused expression on her face.
However, I understand that some readers who have gotten a puppy or a dog this year might be nervous about the start of Christmas with a new canine companion in your home.
This is exactly the problem that worries JS from London, who shared his concerns via our email address [email protected]:
Dear Ben, After wanting to take the plunge for ages, I finally did it this year and adopted a rescue dog from a canine charity. However, she is a curious little thing and keeps sniffing around the Christmas tree, taking a great interest in the presents underneath. What can I do to keep her out of trouble during the celebrations?
Please don’t worry too much about Christmas and all the excitement and excitement your dog needs to get settled. There are many techniques you can use to ensure the holidays go smoothly.
I’ve been perfecting my BG (Beggarbush) Foundation methods for almost 20 years and I know that prevention over cure, plus rest and consistency, is the best way to keep your dog happy and healthy at all times. You can learn more about @beggarbush on Instagram and my dog training app (you can get a free trial from this link) or ask me your own question by emailing [email protected].
Ben’s top 5 tips to ensure your dog has a Merry Christmas:
1. Be extra vigilant about toys and treats that can be dangerous
We are very careful about what we give the dogs in terms of their nutrition and safety during the holiday season. Squeaky toys that can easily be torn inside are taboo, as is anything chocolate-related.
Once they open their presents, they go into a box and each dog is allowed to enjoy one at a time so they don’t get too excited or consume too many treats that could upset their stomachs.
2. Remember, we’re always working out
When it’s the dogs turn to get their Christmas treat, we always make it a point for each of them to sit down and patiently await their treat.
Always be aware that even on Christmas Day, whether you have a young or an old dog, how you treat them and what you ask of them builds the basic commands and builds your trust, bond and partnership in the family environment further developed .
3. Be extra careful and alert when visitors arrive
Although visitors always have great intentions with our dogs, be careful and alert to the possibility that they, especially with younger children, could take things like chocolates or sweets from the tree and give them to your dog, who might happily devour them, which could be really dangerous , especially since chocolate is so toxic to dogs.
Before anyone arrives we take the time to ensure our home is child proof to protect our dogs.
4. Include young visitors in your training program
One thing that is very close to my heart as a dog trainer is to teach children how to behave around our dogs as soon as possible upon their arrival. All the children – especially my little niece Amelia – love to help train our dogs.
When guests arrive, our dogs are usually in their beds or in a safe, quiet place such as a bed.
I make sure to show the kids some simple techniques on how to give treats or gifts to the dogs. Amelia absolutely loves our dogs – learning from Uncle Ben how to train the dogs is the highlight of her visit – and she knows the dogs always have to sit and wait patiently before giving them a treat under my tutelage.
Sowing these little seeds not only sustains the training of our dogs, but also helps encourage and inspire future trainers.
5. Maintain discipline on family hikes
While we want all walks to be fun and relaxed for everyone, we don’t want anything to go wrong or cause potential problems for our dogs. Always remember that on most outings during the holidays 90% of the people are not working, so any environment will be far busier and more distracting than it would normally be.
So get out in the fresh air and enjoy yourself, but make sure you keep up your usual exercise regimen lest your dog run away and ignore you completely. Encourage your protégé to return to you regularly and to keep in touch with you. I do this by taking a pacifier or toy with me on the walk, dropping it out of sight, and asking my dog to run back to get it. You can also motivate your dog to keep checking back with you by calmly praising him when he comes back to you, or occasionally rewarding good and attentive behavior with a piece of his usual dry food.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and I look forward to answering more of your dog puzzles in 2023.
For more detailed advice on Ben Randall’s positive, reward-based and proven BG training methods, individual training, residential training or five star boarding at his BGHQ in Herefordshire, call 01531 670960 or visit www.ledburylodgekennels. co.uk. For a free seven day trial of the Gundog app costing £24.99 per month or £249.99 per year visit www.gundog.app/trial
Credit: Alamy Stock Photo
Most families are never busier and louder than at Christmas, but dogs don’t give birth