Everybody wants Christmas to run as smoothly as possible and managing a busy household and your dog can at times be challenging.
Here are some tips to set your dog and household up for success.
- Give your dog a safe place
Ensure your dog has a safe place to retreat to where they can rest undisturbed. For open plan homes, an area may need to be created using a large puppy pen with blankets as visual barriers.
Your dog may need to learn to associate this place with calm and enjoyable things. Prepare this place in good time and give your dog enjoyable activities to do in there, such as a yummy chew, Kong, Lickimat or food puzzle etc.
You can hide treats and chews in a cardboard box with scrunched up paper. Cut up your Blue Pet Co treats into small pieces which can provide foraging fun.
A barrier can be helpful in allowing children to enthusiastically engage in their new toys without the dog’s involvement. Rather than tell a dog off for stealing things, set them up to not do this in the first place.
- Give your dog something to do
Don’t want your dog underfoot while you cook? Don’t want them to scrounge at the table? Don’t want them to get in the way during present opening time? Give them something to do!
A long-lasting chew (given under supervision) or a frozen Kong can keep your dog out of the way without them becoming frustrated.
- Be careful of certain foods
Cooked bones can splinter and cause internal damage when eaten, so be sure that all scraps go straight into an outside bin. Gravy, stuffing and other festive foods may have a high salt content that can upset stomachs, so licking the plate clean may not be best for your dog.
Sweets, Chocolates, Liquors, Mince Pies and Christmas cake all contain ingredients that can make dogs very ill.
Be sure to keep them in a secure cupboard or well out of reach. If presents contain food, ensure they are not left under the tree where your dog can access them- remember, they can sniff these things out even if they can’t see
Be mindful of your dog’s intake of food and treats. If you intend on giving them chews and treats to manage their behaviour, reduce their meal portions slightly to reduce overall calorie consumption. If your dog never experiences variation and higher value treats or foods- either avoid giving these or gradually introduce some variation in advance.
- Consider penning your tree away
A decorated tree can be very enticing for your puppies or ball obsessed dogs. Having your tree up high or penned away can prevent your dog causing chaos and potentially ingesting dangerous items.
- Ensure visitors know how to behave around your dog
If your dog is anxious around visitors, then ensure they have a safe place as detailed in tip number 1.
If your dog is over excited by visitors, giving them something to do to keep them busy may help redirect their behaviour onto something else.
Visitors must be clear on what interactions help your dog feel confident or stay calm. Excitable voices, excessive attention, children running around or unsolicited affection may promote undesired or dangerous behaviours.
If your dog has a history of resource guarding, ensure visitors understand not to take any item off your dog and to call you to deal with the issue.
Text visitors in advanced and remind them as they turn up- so they are well informed on how to behave.
- Bear in mind your dog’s existing exercise tolerance
If your dog is only walked for 45 minutes at a time, a 3-hour Boxing Day walk may be too much for them.
If your dog is use to three walks a day without fail, then a sudden drop to one walk a day may result in undesired behaviour.
Prepare your dog by increasing their walks a little, choosing a walk duration that suits them or increasing their rest periods in preparation for the big day.
- Don’t forget alone time
Too often, alone time is overlooked during the festive holiday season. The sudden shift to your previous routine can then be a shock for dogs- who have had a period of time in constant company. If your dog can cope when home alone, be sure to maintain this across the holiday season.
- It may look cute, but is it fun for your dog?
Dog-antlers, hats, jumpers, posing for the camera, cute pictures of kids with dogs… too often we see pictures of dogs looking uncomfortable in these situations. Look for signs that your dog is uncomfortable, such as the whites of the eyes showing, tension in the face, excessive lip licking or yawning, looking away or trying to move away.
Your dog’s welfare is always more importance that likes on social media.
Remember, dogs don’t understand the concept of Christmas and the shift in activity and energy in the household can be confusing, overwhelming or over exciting for many. Try and prepare your dog for what is to come, or manage the environment to keep them calm and safe.The Mutty Professor Ltd