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Your Jack Russell Puppy Care Checklist - Jack Russell Crazy Issue #25
December 26, 2011
Keeping your Jack Safe During the Holiday Season
The holidays are such a busy time of the year. Parties, happy hours, family visiting, gift giving, gift buying and lots and lots of food. The first time I hosted folks for the holidays I thought that I had everything set. The tree, beautiful decorations, a great smelling roast and even some cookies. One of my Jacks continuously barked at the tree and then tried to eat it (which my guests thought was hilarious), another ate some of the cookies right off the buffet cabinet (again, the guests laughed and laughed) and in general there was just a lot of barking (which nobody liked!). So I have had to go back to the drawing board and look into ways to keeping a little more order in household during the holidays so that not only can I relax a little but I don't have to totally worry about what crazy shenanigans my Jacks could be getting into.
Keep calm and walk the dog - The holiday season can be so hectic. Jacks can sense when their owners are stressed so take a deep breath and don't let Aunt Sadie and her fruitcake bug you. Try as hard as you can to keep your dog on his typical routine schedule. Dogs are creatures of habit and like to know what their day looks like. Keep walks as similar as you can in length and time as humanly possible. Run through daily obedience training and don't try to teach him anything new at this point - put that on the New Years Resolutions list. If you are having a party, make sure to take him on an extra long walk prior to wear him out. Or if you are too busy preparing, consider hiring a dog walker or make use of a friend. A neat trick is to stuff a Kong full of peanut butter and treats and then freeze it so that your Jack has to work harder and longer to get to the good stuff. This will distract him while guests are coming in and out.
Food Food Food - Food is everywhere during the holidays. Your Jack probably feels that he hit the doggie lottery with all the fun treats he finds or your guests may feed to him. If you are serving hors d'oeuvres, do not use toothpicks. By chance if your Jack were to get one, it can get lodged in his throat or puncture an organ. Chocolate, alcohol, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, tobacco, bones, artificial sweetener, candy wrappers and uncooked dough are all things that could be at a party and could be potentially fatal for your Jack as well. Trash cans can be very tempting for Jacks with all the yummy stuff people are throwing away. Look to purchase doggie proof lids or keep you cans behind a closed door. Countertops are also another tempting area. Keep things as far to the back of your countertop as possible. Strings from meats and roasts are very harmful to dogs as well as plastic soda casings, aluminum foil and tinsel. Warn your guests ahead of time not to feed your Jack and have a small jar of biscuits that they are permitted to give him (and children with adult supervision). This may help cut down on sympathy feeding of people food if your Jack is begging. And make sure your Jack has a good meal before guests comes so he is not too hungry.
I'd hate to see you leave - Make sure your Jack is wearing proper identification or has been microchipped in case he darts out the door when guests arrive. Brush up on basic obedience skills before a party so that when the door bell rings there isn't more chaos then what a normal party brings.
Christmas tree o Christmas tree - Decorations for the holidays are abound. If you have a tree for the holidays be careful not to place it by a window that your dog normally looks out of. That could be a recipe for disaster if your Jack knocks it over. Ornaments, especially glass ones should be placed at a higher level. Also be careful of candy canes, homemade dough based ornaments, tinsel and artificial snow. Pine needles and pine solution are also hazardous so make sure to clean your tree area (especially the tree water) and cover up the bottom of your tree with a tree skirt. If your tree has lights, you can spray the wires with a bitter apple solution to help prevent chewing. Other things to think about are placement of lit candles and plants such as ivy, mistletoe and holly (which could be poisonous).
With all these things to think about is it even worth it to have a party? No need to worry. You can still have a party, you just need to be mindful of your Jack. What I do is have a room set aside and the week before a party I work on having my Jacks go to that space. I put their crate and toys in there so that they don't think it's a punishment and I give them treats to keep things positive. I then close the door. If they bark, I won't let them out. We work on this so that there is no barking. When it comes time for the party, I allow a little meet and greet with the guests coming in. And then I take them to their room and give them a peanut butter filled frozen Kong. During a party, kids love to flock to that room, so I have a sign on the door that says that children under a certain age must be supervised by an adult and a few other rules about being gentle.
Remember to spend some time with your Jacks. The holiday season can be very stressful and it is well known that petting a dog can help calm you :-) I want to wish you and your Jack(s) a very happy holidays. Whether they have been naughty or nice (or both) please give your Jacks a big hug and kiss from me!
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'Til Next Time...
Take care - and take care of your JRT!
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