Head of the Class Dog Training LLC 

Winchester, VA

  • New toys – There are all sorts of innovative, fun toy options out there for your pup. There are puzzle toys you can fill with treats or kibble to slow down quick eaters and entertain bored dogs. There are squeaky toys with multiple squeakers that will satisfy even the roughest of dogs and leave them with at least a squeaker or two after they rip their toy apart. Tug of war toys or items your dog can fetch will provide hours of fun and quality time with your pup.
  • Necessities – You might think about this as the equivalent of your aunt who always gets you tube socks for Christmas, but when you get right down to it, dogs aren’t materialistic. If your dog needs a new bed, grooming supplies or a cool new water fountain dog bowl, use the season of giving to refresh your dog’s everyday essentials.  
  • Exercise – Not all presents have to be wrapped up under the tree. Going for extra-long walks, playing games of fetch, taking trips to the dog park and other forms of exercise are a gift for you and your dog. It will make your dog healthier, happier and more well behaved and has great health benefits for you, too.
  • Quality time – If your dog could talk, he or she would probably say, “Pet me! Pet me! Pet me!” Even more than new toys or food treats, dogs love attention. The holidays are a great time to spend some extra quality time with your dog. Many people take time off work to spend with family, including furry family members. Indulge your dog in some extra tummy rubs, ear scratches or snuggling in front of a cozy fire.
  • Grooming – Everybody feels better after a spa or salon day, even your pup. Get your dog in for a professional grooming session to get cleaned up, brushed and trimmed in time for family photos. Often you’ll even get cute Christmas-themed bandanas and some grooming locations even have photo shoot opportunities with Santa.
  • Food treats – If you want to give food gifts to your pup, make sure they’re safe and healthy, such as carrots or apple slices, which are low calorie and enjoyed by many dogs. Do not give dogs table scraps, as many foods – particularly fatty, buttery, holiday dishes – are dangerous and unhealthy. Be cautious if giving chew bones. Most dogs will love them, but there are several dangers: cooked bones are off limits as they are brittle and will splinter. Raw bones (especially the long bones, like femurs that you can buy in a pet store) are fun to chew, but they are hard enough to break a dog’s molar, commonly called a “slab fracture,” leaving the dog with a painful mouth and you with an expensive vet visit. Keep food treats to a minimum. Just like the holidays can derail your healthy eating, dogs can overindulge in treats and have gastric upset or weight gain.  An option is to use your dog’s regular food ration in a new puzzle toy or treat dispensing toy to make meal times interesting and mentally stimulating.

Read about more ways to keep your dog safe and healthy for the holidays on our blog.

Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.

Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.

She has 4 registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.

Safe Healthy Gifts for Dogs

Maybe your furry, four-legged pal can’t hold a pencil to write a nice letter to Santa or bake him a plate of warm cookies, but your dog definitely still deserves a fun surprise at Christmas. While it’s tempting to reward your pup with table scraps or bits of sugar cookie, there are plenty of options out there that are safe and healthy for your dog. Here are a few suggestions for ways to pamper your pup during the holidays.


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