coaching for dog owners

Helping humans be their best for their dogs

Picturephoto credit: Teddy Claus via photopin (license)

After driving 20 hours from my current residence in Florida to visit the folks in my hometown in upstate NY, I must admit I was a bit disappointed to learn that Santa will be sporting his bathing suit on Christmas Eve with temperatures expected to reach 70 F.  I could have stayed home for that kind of weather!  One thing is for sure though, dogs up here are getting the opportunity for much more outdoor activity this winter than ever before!  Of course I went there, this is a dog blog!

So after arguing with my father today to fire up the woodstove even though its in the high 50’s, I wiped the sweat from my brow (its way too hot to run the stove but I didn’t drive up here to turn on the AC!!) and decided to give you all some friendly reminders about how to manage the holiday season with our 4-legged family members.  While many dog savvy folks have heard about some of these, there are new dog owners born every day who need all the help we can give them.  So take a quick read, refresh your memory, and share with your FB friends and family or email to a new dog owner who could use a a little help.

While I would like to say these are in no particular order the first one is something I will never cease trying to burn into people’s minds…’ve heard it before from me, and you will most certainly hear it again…


I will spare you the long version of my lecture, if you want to hear it or know somebody who needs to hear it click HERE for the link to the article I previously wrote on the subject.
The short of it is that dogs/puppies are not items or inanimate objects.  They are living breathing creatures of this planet just  like us.  Bringing such a being into one’s life is a major decision that takes time, research, planning, and COMMITMENT.  All of which make a dog something that should NEVER be given as a gift.  Don’t do it.


A lot of people freak out over Poinsettias but they really aren’t as deadly as some might think.  While there are some unhealthy effects of a dog eating one of these rather common and attractive Holiday plants, death is rare and only happens if extreme amounts are ingested.  You must be far more careful of watching your dog around the ornaments and especially any electrical configurations you came up with to accommodate an overzealous attempt to have the most lights possible.  Electrocution is far more common than poisoning.  I found THIS little article that clears up some of the poisonous plant information and is worth the read if you are looking for a little more information.


Even the most nutritionally conscious of us find the most amazing ways to rationalize eating crap during the holidays.  As I type this I am indulging in sweet potato pie with that aresol whipped cream, a tall glass of super rich egg nog with a healthy dose of Sailor Jerry, and a plate full of my mother’s famous apricot turnover cookies.  Yes, I will eat it all, before I finish typing this.

What will follow this debauchery will be a non stop churning and burning that no amount of Tums can sooth as well as me claiming exclusive rights to one of their bathrooms until I leave to head home next week.  In other words, I will pay for my sins.  I indulge well aware of the penalty however my human dysfunctions will allow me to do so repeatedly for this entire week.  Our dogs however do not have the same access to health blogs explaining where all those excess calories will be stored nor do they have the awareness to know what will happen to their colons if they were to enjoy the same horrendous assortment of holiday delights.

A healthy dog will eat whatever is put in front of them, good or bad.  When you put a plate of holiday leftovers in front of your pet, they will eat it with enthusiasm.  I highly doubt you will have the same enthusiasm when cleaning the vomit and diarrhea from the carpet several hours later.  Nevermind the clean up, think about the discomfort your dog is in when their stomachs turn inside out.  YOU did that to them.  Even worse is the perfectly housebroken dog who simply cant contain the explosive diarrhea that is about to detonate all over the kitchen.  Imagine the anxiety you are causing them as they struggle to contain the dynamite within?  YOU did that to them.  You are not “treating” them to a special treat, you are giving them a one way ticket to discomfort and illness.

Don’t do it.  Stick to the regularly scheduled feedings.


As we loosen the restrictions on our eating habits, other things tend to get lax as well.  Even the most disciplined might find themselves relaxing a bit on Christmas morning before picking up the disaster that is an excited child in a room full of securely wrapped gifts.  Paper, tape, and ribbons will litter the floor along with new pieces of various need to be assembled toys that have yet to find their homes.

All of this holiday debris poses endless adventure for the curious canine.  Those who have a tendency to put new and interesting things in their mouths will find all the stimulation they can hope for along with the impacted and obstructed bowels that will follow.  If your dog is out and about on Christmas day be sure to be extra diligent in cleaning up after your festivities as promptly as possible to avoid any potential emergencies.

A bowel obstruction will have some trademark signs that you will be able to see.  Click HERE for more information on what to look for and how to handle it.


I realize the holidays are a time for spending quality moments with friends, family, and those who have traveled some ways to be with us.  Life is short so take full advantage of this time to enjoy having them in your lives.  The same goes for the dog.  If you are enjoying time off from work then be sure to spend some of that extra time with your dog.  At the very least spend the same amount you usually do.

Forgetting these furry family members just isn’t acceptable.  Not only is is just wrong, but you will be asking for behavioral consequences as the dogs daily need for mental and physical stimulation is not being met.  This is the perfect time to create new habits such as 45 minute daily walks, trips to the park, or long walks exploring nearby nature trails.  This unseasonably warm weather removes one of the major excuses you have been using.

What other tips can you think of that might belong on this list? Share your thoughts and comments below!

​Happy Holidays!!


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