Whilst many of us would like to ignore the passing of the years as far as possible, plenty of children and adults alike anticipate their own birthdays, especially if they’re expecting lots of presents, fun things to do, a celebration, and generally being the centre of attention!
Whether the upcoming birthday is yours or your child’s, if a celebration is in the offing and your dog is the best friend of the person celebrating, the chances are that you’ll want to let the dog in on the action too.
Dogs are of course part of the family, and for many of us, this means getting them involved in every aspect of family life, including the exciting times like birthdays, and most dogs really enjoy the fun along with the rest of us.
However, just as is the case at other times of the year when things are a little different either in the home, in the wider world, or both – such as Halloween, Christmas, and Easter – birthdays can mean upheaval, distractions, new things (and people) coming into the home, and potentially, added risk for the dog.
A lot of the potential risks that such times can bring come down to the nature of dogs themselves, being as they are both food-oriented and opportunistic, and often very quick to get themselves into trouble by accident as soon as their owner’s back is turned.
However, by being aware of how your birthday and associated celebrations can introduce problems or risks for your dog, you can easily negate and prevent them; and ensure that you and your dog alike enjoy your birthday together safety.
Many of us will get a box of chocolates, or several, or all manner of sweet treats as birthday gifts, so make sure they don’t make it into the mouth of your dog! You might not know what is in your presents too of course, but a dog can sniff out food from some distance away, even if you’re in the dark. Keep all presents well out of the way before opening them; and consider if anyone is likely to send you chocolate through the post too, and if your dog could get to it on the doormat.
Wrapping paper and ribbons
Gift wrap paper and dogs can be quite entertaining when thrown together, but supervise this carefully to make sure it is just paper that they’re playing with, and that they don’t eat any of it!
Additionally, any presents tied with ribbons or string need to be monitored in terms of where the wrappings go, to make sure your dog doesn’t get hold of string or ribbons.
If you’re having friends pop over, people dropping off gifts or cards, or are having a gathering of friends, think about how this might affect your dog, as some dogs will find this somewhat unsettling.
Ensure that your dog can get out of the way of the celebrants if they wish to, and make sure that nobody bothers them if they’re finding it all a bit much.
If a lot of people are singing happy birthday or there is a reasonable amount of noise and excitement going on, pay a little mind to how this might affect your dog. Dogs that are shy or nervous (and even some that are normally very chilled) may find this alarming and unsettling, so dedicate a quiet room to them where they can avoid it.
Even if your dog is having a great time right in the thick of it, take care to monitor them to ensure they’re not getting overexcited or overstimulated.
Cake and special birthday treats are the best part of the day for a lot of us, but they can also pose a hazard to your dog. Whether you’re enjoying a small birthday cake or a full table spread, keep all of the food and your dog very well apart, and don’t turn your back on the dog for a second if they’re in the same room!
Also, bear in mind that people sitting down with a slice of cake will often quite naturally put their full or part-eaten slice on the arm of the sofa, a coffee table, or another surface that’s in reach of your dog, and either forget it or even simply turn away for long enough to permit an opportunistic dog to chow down.
It is probably best to close your dog out of the room if people will be sitting with cake and cake might be left in reach of your dog, unless the dog is impeccably well-mannered and won’t beg or steal food, and you can rely upon all of your guests not to offer your dog a bite of it either!
The distraction that birthdays can result in for us as dog owners, the upheaval of the dog’s routine, and general change can result in hazards and your dog feeling unsettled or confused. Whilst involving your dog in your birthday might be really important to you, only do this when you can do it safely; and be prepared to separate your dog and give them some peace and space when needed, away from the main activity.