Aussies love a celebration, especially celebrations with their mates. When in Australia, what better occasion to celebrate than Australia Day, and what better mate to include in your celebrations, than your dog? None, we say!
Whether you’re heading to the beach, planning a BBQ, or watching fireworks, we’ve rounded up some tips for making sure that your dog has a fun and safe time too.
BBQ HOST WITH THE MOST
We love the smell of a barbeque feast! But many BBQ food staples are dangerous or poisonous to dogs:
- Ribs/ bones – can easily splinter and cause a choking hazard, or worse, puncture internal organs;
- Onions, garlic, avocado – are definite no-go zones;
- Chips, pretzels – are very high in salt and too much salt can cause poisoning leading to all sorts of symptoms (think vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures), which can be fatal;
- Fruit – keep that fruit salad pavlova well away from the puppers! Grapes, raisins and apple seeds are very dangerous for your four-legged mates; and
- Chocolate – the one time it’s ok not to share chocolate is with your dog.
- Booze – same rule as chocolate.
Consider placing a sign near your BBQ table, the esky and on the fridge reminding your guests not to feed your dogs any food scraps or beverage dregs. In the Aussie spirit of mate-ship, we’ve made a free printable so you can spend your time on other things, like making pavlova. You can download the printable here.
As a whopping 85% or more of the Australian population live near the coast, the beach is always a BIG hit. We try to go to the beach most weekends, so we know what we’re talking about when we say:
- Plan ahead – make sure you visit a dog-friendly beach. Check council regulations well ahead of time so you’re not disappointed on the day.
- Stay cool – shelter and fresh water are essential. We said essential! Put some extra bottles of fresh, cool water in the car for reserves and the trip home. Why not freeze some smaller bottles that you can put in your dog’s water bowl to keep their water cool and they can have fun with at the same time?
- Stay safe and be alert – watch for obstacles in the sand that can injure paws and always have a buddy on shore watching you, while you’re swimming. Watch for heat stroke and over exertion. This goes for the humans too!
- Slap on some sunscreen – dogs are susceptible to skin cancer too. We’re currently trying out this totally edible sunscreen from Dr Zoo Pets. We likey!
- Have fun – pack a Frisbee, a cricket set, a beach ball. Howzat?
LET’S PLAY DRESS UP
Whether you were born to flaunt it or not, dressing up is not for everyone. We won’t deny that we have a fabulous closet but here’s a secret, we are never in costume long. Photo sessions are something we love, love, love because it involves play time, treats, supervision and a very short time in costume.
Most dogs don’t like to wear costumes, fancy dress, novelty items or accessories. So, why not let your little mate enjoy the day by flaunting their natural beauty? Consider that costumes may cause a dog to overheat, restrict their vision, range of motion and cause a hazard (like choking or tripping). If you would like to play dress-ups to celebrate the occasion, why not do so before hand and take a fabulous photo instead? Pop that pawsome photo on social media using #AustraliaDay and #doxiesdownunder. Twitter users will get a bonus emoji when posting on Australia Day – a koala wearing green and gold sunglasses!
Many dogs are scared of fireworks and sadly, often a time of celebration is a time of terror for dogs. The fear of fireworks can lead to destructive behaviour, escaping from home and injury. A few easy steps will help to reduce the anxiety associated with fireworks:
- Update your records – ensure that your dog’s microchip records are always kept up-to-date. Then, if you are dealing with an escapee, you have substantially increased the chance of being reunited with your dog.
- Exercise your dog – a long walk and play session will tire your dog out.
- Create a safe, secure space – if your dog is crate-trained, this is ideal as they already have a familiar, contained safe space. For outdoor dogs, you might consider using the laundry or garage (it’s only one night). Make sure the room is secure and that there are no objects that could hurt your dog, and, if you can, cover any windows.
- Make the safe space comfortable – ensure there is plenty of water available and chew toys, such as a Kong, as extended chewing will help the dog relax. Blankets for burrowing into and a familiar scented item (like an old shirt or pillowcase) will also help. Ensure you have taken your dog to the toilet before popping them into their safe space. Consider turning on a radio or TV at a reasonable volume as a distraction.
- After the show – lots of cuddles! Put your dog on a lead and take them to the toilet. They may still be anxious, so it’s better to keep them restrained. Let them remain in their safe space until the morning.
There are a lot of techniques you can learn to help desensitise your dog to fireworks and other loud noises. This takes a little planning and practice, so consider implementing a desensitising program before storm and holiday seasons.
To get you into the spirit of Australia Day (26 January), we have asked some of our friends from around the world to demonstrate how to celebrate the day in true Aussie style. You can meet them here.
Do you have any tips to add?