Positive Pet Training

Chocolate at Christmas

Even though Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year for us, for our pets it can be a very stressful time and potentially dangerous.

As guardians of our pets it is our duty to ensure that both our dogs physical and mental wellbeing are considered and being looked after.

Firstly, it is important to take into account that the risks and challenges posed by Christmas aren’t just limited to the 25th December. They are present throughout the whole of the festive period.

In this blog we will focus on the dangers that chocolate may post to our dogs over the festive period. As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure”.


Chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) can be very toxic to your dog and is potentially fatal if ingested by them. If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate, seek veterinary advice IMMEDIATELY. Googling toxicity levels or seeking advice on social media will just waste precious time and put your dog at risk unnecessarily. Trying to induce vomiting by yourself cam also harm your dog and should not be attempted.

Even though the potential hazards to our dog’s health sound very scary, you can easily put some safety measures in place to avoid the dangers of chocolate at Christmas.

Advent Calendars

Advent calendars may be in our homes right from the beginning of the festive period. Make sure that they are kept out of reach of your dogs. Ideally, place them in a secure cupboard or in a room that your dog does not have access to. This will give us the peace of mind that our dogs will not have any chance to interact with the advent calendars.

If it is important for you to have your advent calendars on show, make sure that they are kept out of reach of your dog. High up and securely held in position, so that they can’t be knocked or accidently fall into reach of your dog. If you are worried that your dog might be missing out on some Christmas cheer, then you can buy them a special advent calendar for dogs. Filled with treats that are safe and appropriate for your dogs to enjoy.  (Dog advent calendar)

Chocolate Christmas Tree Decorations 

Most of us love nothing more than sneaking a chocolate off the Christmas tree. Unfortunately, given half the chance, neither would our dogs. To be total safe, it is best practice to have the Christmas tree in a room that your dog does not have any access to. If you can’t have the tree in a dog free room, then it is best practice to not to have any chocolate decorations on your tree.

However, if you decide to still have chocolate Christmas decorations, then it is very important to ensure that your dog can’t get access to them. Place them high up on the tree, so that your dog won’t be able to reach them, even if they are stood upright on their hind legs. Make sure that the chocolate decorations are secured firmly (duct tape works well) to the tree. Rather than just looped over the branches, so that they can’t be shaken loose accidentally. Even with the chocolate decorations placed high up and secured to the branches, it is really important that your dog is not left unsupervised with access to the tree.

Presents that contain chocolate

Make sure that any presents that contain chocolate aren’t put under the tree and left unattended (even for a really short period of time). If you have presents that contain chocolate, only place them under your tree on Christmas morning, ready to be unwrapped. Ensure that your dog is supervised at all times if they have access to the presents. When you receive presents in the run up to Christmas, it’s important to politely ask if they may contain chocolates. If they do, then simply put them in a safe place until they are ready to be opened on Christmas morning.

Quality Street, Roses, Celebrations e.t.c.

Christmas time sees all of those lovely big tubs of Chocolates come into our homes. They are designed to be shared with your family. But there is one family member we have to make sure doesn’t join in with the chocolate eating. Make sure that the chocolate boxes are never left unattended in areas that your dog has access to. Even a closed lid may not be enough to prevent your dog from gaining access to the chocolates inside. Some dogs can be very determined and persistent when there is food involved. The golden rule to remember is to always make sure that chocolates are securely put away. They should never be left unattended in areas that your dog has access to.

Children and Chocolates

Christmas time is one of the times of the year where we can indulge and treat ourselves. This is no different for the children in our lives. We would always recommend adult supervision when a child is around dogs. But when a child is enjoying some chocolate, supervision is vital. A child is more likely to accidentally drop chocolate which a dog may pick up. The height of a child may present your dog with an opportunity to grab some chocolate out of their hands.

If left unattended an excited child may give a dog some chocolate. Innocently thinking that it would be a nice treat for your dog, it would however have serious consequences. If a child in your home is enjoying some chocolate, it’s highly recommended that you separate your dog from them. Give your dog a bit of time on their own in a another room or a crate with a tasty stuffed Kong (Stuffing a Kong for your dog blog) or another long lasting treat and the risk will be taken out of the situation.

Be fair to your dog

Remember at any time of year it’s never fair to expect your dog to choose not to take something tasty. Teaching a “Leave” cue (where your dog doesn’t pick up an item and is then rewarded with another item). Is an important Life Skill which we always teach but should only be used in short situations. E.g. to move past food on the floor on a walk or as you accidentally dropped food in the kitchen. This should never be expected for prolonged periods. E.g. with festive treats left out for hours as this is more self-control than most of us can muster.  You are setting your dog up for failure. When the outcome could potentially be fatal for your dog a trained “leave” should never ever relied upon.

So enjoy the chocolate and just make sure your dog doesn’t!


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