I'm a dog expert – here's the six mistakes that can ruin your dog's Christmas, they can even be deadly | The Sun

I'm a dog expert – here's the six mistakes that can ruin your dog's Christmas, they can even be deadly | The Sun

CHRISTMAS is the most wonderful time of the year – and it's important to make sure your dog enjoys it too.

Canine Behaviourist and children’s book author, Stephanie Zikmann, has spoken to the Scottish Sun revealing what your beloved pooch would have to say about the festive period if they had the chance.


The 30-year-old professional dog groomer, from Kilmarnock, has told how to make Christmas enjoyable for pets.

Stephanie is an internationally-recognised Certified
Canine Behaviourist and bestselling author of the Amazon bestseller, The Magic of Holistic Grooming.

She has also recently launched her third book and is the author behind the children's book, I Can Be A Dog Detective.

And she has six top tips to help make the big day go smoothly for dogs – and what avoid to stop them getting stressed.

1. Give your dog a safe space

Stephanie advises: "If you could do anything for your dog this Christmas, it would be to ensure you have set up a place in your home where your dog can escape to when things get too rowdy.

"Whether it is a designated room or a spacious dog crate, the purpose of a safe space is to provide the dog with a place to retreat to when you decide it’s time to ramp up the volume and dance the night away!"

2. For BARKS sake, get the right tree!

Getting the right tree when you have pets can be vital during the festive period, Stephanie explains.

She says: "If you are a fan of picking your tree from a local tree farmer, be mindful of which tree you choose.

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"Did you know there are some trees that are toxic to pets including pine and fir trees?

"If you can, choose a tree that doesn’t drop and place a pen around it to keep falling nettles away from sensitive doggy pads."

3. Cook up a Doggy Christmas Dinner

Families will want to include their furry loved ones when enjoying their Christmas Dinner – but Stephanie has urged owners to do their research before giving food to their pups.

She explains: "You can serve your dog up a delicious Christmas dinner too but just remember to research and hold off on any foods that can wreak havoc on the tummy and poison your dog.

"Know what common festive treats are toxic (like gravy, onions, mince pies, leeks and chocolate) and feed your dog the good stuff instead.

"Steam some carrots, broccoli and green beans and serve them up with nice lean turkey slices – now cue the drooling!"

4. Avoid playing dress-up

It's easy for dogs to get stressed during a busy time, so it's key that owners don't do anything that makes their pets more uncomfortable.

"While it’s tempting to include your pooch in a Christmas-themed selfie by going all-out on an Elf or Santa outfit, remember that costumes can cause a considerable amount of stress to most dogs," Stephanie explains.

"Instead, opt for something less extravagant but still cute like a wooly jumper with Santa on it, or a brand new Christmas collar!

"It’s important to not force your dog into anything they don’t want to do and instead be aware of the common signs that might indicate they are stressed.

"And only take a photo of your dog if they are calm enough to do so."

5. Try and keep your routine

Stephanie has also revealed other ways that owners can help keep their dog's stress levels down, like by keeping to their routine as much as possible.

She advises: "It’s easy for routines to go out the window on Christmas Day, but your dog will appreciate a little familiarity to help cope with the extra hustle.

"Try to stick to your usual routine as much as possible to help your dog feel safe.

"A stressed dog can behave differently such as bark excessively, not settle and otherwise which can be resolved with a little routine and acknowledging basic needs."

6. Don’t forget to have fun and make memories!

Christmas is all about spending time with family – and of course that means including your beloved pets, too!

Stephanie reveals that making lasting memories and having fun with our furry loved ones is one of the most important things we can do for them at Christmas.

She explains: "Christmas time is a time for ALL the family to enjoy and make lasting memories, and why shouldn’t your dog be included too?

"It’s important to dedicate some quality family time out of the day to spend with your loved ones that doesn’t involve alcohol, food or party games.

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"Why not wrap up and go on a family adventure to a dog-friendly park, make some dog-themed Christmas crackers for your dog to rip apart, or end the day watching a Christmas movie in bed together?

"Whatever it is, make sure you all have fun!"

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