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Dogs & Puppies : Safety Last Updated: Oct 25th, 2006 - 08:57:26

Holiday Season Festivities Present a Host of Issues for Families with Dogs
By Bill Marino and Carole Marie
Nov 18, 2005, 08:18

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Bark Busters, the world’s largest, most trusted dog training company, provides guidelines to help dog owners ensure their pets handle the hectic holiday season



Englewood, Colo. Nov. 8, 2005With the festivities for the holidays fast approaching, everyone is scurrying about in preparation for celebration. Since this is the season to be merry, it should be a time for mirth and merriment for everyone – including the family dog. But the holidays present some annual dilemmas for our canine companions. Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company, today released suggestions to help dog owners ensure their pets stay safe during the holiday season. The guidelines are based on Bark Busters’ expertise in dog behavior and the experience of the company’s network of dog behavioral therapists who have successfully trained more than 250,000 dogs worldwide.


“The holiday season introduces our pets to a great deal of chaos, at least from their perspective, said Liam Crowe, Master Dog Therapist and COO of Bark Busters. “Unfortunately for dogs, the festivities of the season introduce a host of new stimuli – sights, sounds, and smells – that can disrupt their routines and potentially present dangerous circumstances. Responsible dog owners will take steps to ensure that their dogs enjoy the holidays, too.”


 Bark Busters recommends the following safety and care tips for dog owners during the holidays:


Christmas Tree Hazards: 

  • Don’t let your dog drink water from the base of the tree.  Frequently this water contains chemicals that help the tree last longer. These chemicals will often cause severe indigestion for your dog.  Even pine sap from the tree can cause a health problem.
  • Hang non-breakable ornaments near the bottom of the tree. This will avoid potential disaster from an inquisitive canine or a dog’s over-active tail-wagging that can wipe out an entire limb full of precious ornaments.
  • New electrical cords that light the tree and other decorations are an irresistible curiosity.  Train your dog not to go near them, or use a safe repellant such as Bitter Apple.
  • Tinsel is new and exciting to dogs, too.  Unfortunately it can twist in the intestines and cause serious problems.  It’s best to use it sparingly or not at all.
  • Male dogs will frequently “mark” the new tree as part of their territorial instincts.  It’s best to make the tree area “off limits” to eliminate the possibility of any problems.


Holiday Food Problems:

  • Don’t give your dog rich foods.  During the holidays we want to share “goodies” with our dogs – but the result can be no real treat for your dog.  Unfortunately, these “treats” can trigger life-threatening illnesses in the intestines and pancreas of a dog.
  • Never submit to the temptation to give your dog cooked bones of any type, especially those from a turkey or chicken. Every year unnecessary choking tragedies occur from such incidents.
  • Put the chocolates away – out of sight and reach of the family dog.  It’s not unusual to have trays of candies and chocolates on tables for guests, but chocolate is toxic to dogs. A dog can consume a whole tray of chocolate in seconds, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.


Other Toxic Items

  • Keep holiday plants away from your dog.  Many, such as mistletoe and the amaryllis, are toxic. Depending upon the size of your dog, a nibble on a toxic plant can lead to illness or death. The poinsettia, often considered poisonous, is not. 
  • Sometimes we put our dog in the garage when we have guests. Make certain that antifreeze is not on the floor where your dog can reach it.  Oddly, dogs like the taste of antifreeze and will sometimes open a container with their teeth.  It is extremely toxic, and takes very little to kill a dog, so take the necessary precautions.


Guests and Commotion:

  • A dog’s routine is drastically changed over the holidays at most households.  Dogs are creatures of habit.  When guests and new excitement arrive during the holidays, it’s typically a time the family dog might display uncharacteristic unruly or aggressive behavior. Be aware of potential problems – and never leave a dog alone with small children.
  • Train your dog to sit quietly near the front door when the doorbell rings.  A barking and jumping dog is not appreciated by most guests.  Surprisingly, this is quite easy to accomplish when done correctly.
  • Provide some new gifts for your dog to occupy his time when guests arrive.  Toys such as a Buster Cube are nearly indestructible and will distract your dog for a long period.
  • Walk your dog before guests arrive.  While this might seem obvious, often it is not done.  A 1-2 mile walk generally will result in the dog taking a nap, just as guests arrive.
  • The holidays often result in dogs uncharacteristically toileting in the house. Excitement, excessive doggie treats, inadvertent table scraps, and distractions that result in forgetting to take the dog outside all contribute to the problem. Take the necessary steps to ensure your dog gets the proper attention.  But, don’t alter his normal food and avoid the urge to give him table scraps.  That’s asking for trouble.



  • Thousands and thousands of puppies are given as gifts during the holidays.  Unfortunately, many of them end up at animal shelters – or worse.  Some are abused and are relegated to living a life in fear. Before giving a dog as a gift, consider the environment and lifestyle of the recipients – then pick a breed that’s the best fit. Talk to your veterinarian, dog trainer, or local shelter for more information.
  • If you are on the receiving end of a new puppy, recognize that a dog takes a real commitment of time for care and feeding, play time, medical attention, and training. It’s all worth the investment, but realize that you must be committed to your new friend.  Many people don’t take the time or spend the relatively small amount of money to train their new dog, and this can lead to unnecessary abandonment, maltreatment, or even euthanasia. 
  • Almost any training is better than none.  Many books and video tapes are excellent.  Hiring a trainer shortens the process and helps ensure results.


“Because we humans are distracted during the holidays, we tend to forget the needs of our canine companies,” added Crowe. “Frequently, we put the dog outside to get the pooch out of the way, and sometimes forget that temperatures can drop very quickly in the winter. The message from these tips is to plan ahead.  If we think about what’s best for our dogs – like we would for a child – then everyone will enjoy the holidays, including our furry friends.”


Bark Busters dog behavioral therapists are renowned authorities in the area of correcting all dog behavior problems. The Bark Busters training system can successfully train any dog, even puppies. The company’s natural training technique leverages the same communications methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctual pack mentality. About 80 percent of Bark Busters’ clients require only one two-hour home visit from a licensed dog behavioral therapist, if they continue with just 10 to15 minutes a day follow-up exercises for several weeks. All training takes place right in the home where the problems generally occur. Bark Busters’ training is the only service of its kind that is guaranteed for the life of the dog. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK or visit


About Bark Busters

Bark Busters, the world’s largest, most trusted dog training company, started in Australia in 1989 and came to the United States in 2000. Since inception, over 250,000 dogs have been trained worldwide. With over 140 franchised offices in 35 states and more than 240 offices in eight countries, Bark Busters is continuing its mission to build a global network of dog behavioral therapists to enhance responsible dog ownership and reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment, and euthanasia of companion dogs. Bark Busters is the only international dog training company that offers a lifetime guarantee. Therapists will provide future sessions free of charge if problem behaviors recur, or if any new problems develop. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK or visit, where dog owners can complete a Dog Behavioral Quiz to rate their dogs’ behavior.

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