The Family Dog at Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner – where has this year gone!? Christmas trees will soon be up, decorations festooned and lots of merriment to be had over the yuletide season. In this article Holidays4Dogs talks about including the family dog at Christmas and how to keep them safe and happy.

For those of us who own dogs, Christmas is made even nicer by the presence of our four-legged furry companions. These days, dogs are often included in family celebrations because they are important members of the household. However, just like children, dogs can get very excitable, over-tired and occasionally cranky. It depends on the sort of dog you have, as to how he fits into festive family gatherings.

The wallflower.

If you intend to have big family gatherings and parties, it’s a good idea to think about how your pets may fit into the proceedings. Most family dogs cope very well with such occasions and will be chilled and relaxed. Others, however, maybe a little more reserved and prefer to opt out.

If the pup is worried about lots of potentially, noisy people, they might prefer to settle in a room on their own.

Also, think about the needs of guests. Some may be allergic, or fearful of dogs. Others may simply prefer not to have dog hair and drool all over their best Christmas outfit!

The over-exuberant hound

Having the family dog around at Christmas is lovely, of course. But, nothing could be more off-putting for some visitors than being greeted at the door by a springing, drooling dog, trying to juggle gifts – while attempting to avoid getting scratched in the process.

Even the most well-behaved dogs might end up being a nuisance, spying their chance to beg at the table, or even sneakily stealing the odd sausage roll. If your dog is a little lacking in the manners department, it’s not too late to brush up on a few exercises. Greeting visitors at the door nicely, sit, down and stay, for example.

The sneaky pooch

Decide now on where the dog, or dogs, will stay while everyone eats Christmas dinner. If you would rather not have your dog crawling around under the table hoovering up bits, you could settle your dog in another room with a stuffed Kong.

Some dogs are seasoned food thieves – Labradors, for instance, notoriously think of little else but their bellies.

While you may not mind, other guests might not be too enamoured with a drooling hound hovering around the table. Plus, there are many festive foods that dogs just shouldn’t be eating, as it could make them quite poorly.

Other people will be a pushover for a sad little face peeping underneath the tablecloth. This will all help to ensure you have a seasoned food pest by the time the old year is out.

If you don’t normally feed your dog at the table, it might be fairer to keep him out of the way, rather than torture him with goodies he can’t have – right under his nose.

Worse, still your dog may end up eating something really bad for him, like mince pies.

If you are thinking of sharing the Christmas fare with your dog be aware there are several things you should avoid;


Cooked bones are very bad for dogs as they easily splinter into little knife-like shards. This has the potential to cause serious damage. Never let your dog have left-over cooked bones.

Fatty and rich foods.

Giblets, turkey skin, roast potatoes covered in oil and gravy. All are bad for dogs. These foods can often induce tummy upsets. An unpleasant thing to deal with amidst the festivities. The consumption of fatty foods can cause pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening.

Chocolates and sweets.

Dogs should never have chocolate or candy.  Chocolate contains a chemical called Theobromine which can make them very sick indeed. It is lethal to some dogs, even in small amounts. Check these items remain out of reach – not forget any presents you may have wrapped underneath the tree!

For dogs who prefer a quiet Christmas.

Of course, Christmas is an exciting time for everyone and while many dogs do enjoy the hullabaloo, fun and games, some dogs are less smitten by the whole affair. Some may appreciate a quiet place to rest away from loud gatherings with family and friends – some of whom may be unfamiliar to your dog.

If your dog tends to be nervous in new or novel situations, if he is shy of new people or children, it is much safer to find him a spot away from all this.

This is particularly so if you intend to get a little tipsy! It will be far more difficult to keep an eye on your dog after a drink, or two.

If you have limited space to put your dog downstairs, consider leaving him in a bedroom, perhaps. Extra visitors coming in and out also increases the risk of your dog getting out by mistake. Lots of dogs go missing over the holidays, so make sure he is always wearing identification.

Getting a new dog, or puppy, at Christmas time is to be avoided. You can read more about that in one of our other articles here.

Home-from-home boarding with Holidays4Dogs.

If you are planning a busy Christmas and have less time to spend with your dog, perhaps you may consider leaving him with one of our approved Holidays4Dogs carers for a few days over the festive season.

Many of our carers may well be planning a much quieter Christmas and this may suit your dog better.  Of course, if you are planning to go away over Christmas, you may also like to consider leaving your dog to stay with a lovely local Holidays4Dogs home boarder.

If you want to enquire about availability  – click here.