It's time to start thinking about Christmas! Now I don't mean what presents you need to buy; I mean thinking about how your dog is going to cope.
Think about all the changes that will go on over the festive period:
Trees and decorations go up, extra ‘nice’ food is brought, family members come to stay and maybe a totally different routine if you are having some time off work, kids home from school and maybe you’ll be going on different, longer, busier walks.
It is hopefully a lovely time to look forward to, but I want you to consider your dog during this period.
If you have a puppy or younger dog, then you will definitely have to manage your house. You shouldn’t leave your pup alone when the Christmas tree that has just gone up! If you have a real tree, I really do think our dogs must think we have gone a little mad that the rules for this tree is different to the ones outside!! Definitely no weeing up this one 😊
Chocolate is toxic and if you usually hang up chocolate treats, then please don’t – it’s just not worth the risk. The box of Celebrations or Quality Street must not be left in the lounge unattended, so make sure the children (or adults!) don’t leave the lid off.
The most common Christmas food that are toxic to our dogs are:
Chocolate, onions & garlic, macadamia nuts, corn on the cob, avocado, artificial sweeteners (xylitol), alcohol, cooked bones, grapes & raisins.
I love giving my dogs their own Christmas dinner, but please be careful with what is included.
Another risk are flowers or plants. Mistletoe is a common plant during this season, but this is toxic to our dogs. Please be aware if you are using this in your home. There are lots of other flowers and plants that you need to be careful of. See this list by The Blue Cross
I want you to give your dog a quiet space. They need to have a safe space that when they want to relax, they know where to go. Now is the time to start using this. This could be a crate, or pen or their own bedroom – whatever works in your house. Show them that this place is wonderful and they get lovely chews toys, or their dinner now is fed there. Make it a positive spot, not somewhere they get put to get them out the way. Some dogs won’t be able to make the decision that they need some quiet time, so you may have to regulate them more than you usually do.
Guests in the house or you going to somewhere new will all disturb your dog’s usual routine. This doesn’t mean that it’s bad, but you need to be aware that if your dog isn’t getting enough rest and sleep then you are likely to see some behavioural fallout. If you have a pup, then biting will almost certainly increase. Toilet training may go wrong as you aren’t watching pup as you are busy doing other things. Stealing opportunities have increased whether it’s new toys the kids have got or all the extra food – please manage your house so that your dog doesn’t make any mistakes.
Have a supply of chew toys, activity feeders or cardboard boxes that if your dog does need some time away from all the busyness, then you have something ready to entertain them.
The Boxing day walk was always a nightmare for me when I had a ‘reactive’ dog. I used to dread these bank holidays when everyone was out at the wrong times and messing up all my quiet walks that I usually use. If you know your dog will struggle with the extra stimulation of these busy walks, then please remember you don’t have to walk your dog!!! It’s still such a stigma that you are a bad pet parent if you don’t walk them every day. Well, I’m here to give you full permission to not walk your dog. There are so many ways you can give your dog lots of enrichment at home and don’t need to increase their stress levels.
I am hoping to just get you thinking about the approaching festive period and think about what your dog might need to make sure you all have a very happy time together.
If you have any questions about how to make sure your dog is supported, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
I love having multiple dogs – the most I’ve had is 3 at once but my parent’s dogs are also a regular part of family so that gets us up to 5 in lots of situations. I love the different dynamics, the different personalities and the different ages and all that brings. However, adding a new member to your family should be considered carefully and I wanted to share my thoughts about doing this.
Firstly, have you considered if your existing dog would actually like to have another dog? For example, if they are older and you are wanting a pup – this is fair? Pup won’t have any manners and will just want to play and rough and tumble all day, and your older dog really might not find that fun. What happens if they don’t get along? Have you thought through the fact you might need to have a divided house? Could you cope with this?
When people ask for my opinion on whether a second (or third, fourth) is the right choice then my first response is you only get another dog if you personally want one. You don’t get one just as a play mate for your existing dog. It doesn’t make life easier!!!
Adding another dog means twice the work, twice the time, twice the money. Whatever time you spent raising and training your first dog, your second dog also needs this same amount of 1 on 1 time plus your existing dog shouldn’t miss out so want time with you too. Food, insurance and vet bills will double. If you get a pup then they need to be walked separately, socialised and trained separately (so they don’t become too dependent on your older dog) and then your older dog still needs their longer walks and training/play time. Yes, after some time you can do walks together (when pup is able to do longer walks) but it’s really important to still have 1 on 1 time throughout their whole lives. I recommend a minimum of a 2 year ago gap if you are getting a youngster so that they have time to mature and time to learn their own training skills.
If you rehome a dog, then you need to spend time doing gradual introductions and make sure both dogs are comfortable with each other. Comfortable to share you, space, food, toys etc. This process can take some time. Training them both to walk nicely on lead when in the company of a second dog, especially if one doesn’t have any learning yet, will be a challenge. Can you hold 2 dogs if they both pull perhaps if they see something exciting like a squirrel?
I always like to try to make sure existing dog takes priority – their life shouldn’t be negatively impacted if I want to add another dog to my household. However, the new one usually needs the most amount of your time initially, so be prepared to allow the time and space to give both dogs what they need.
We had a foster dog recently that didn’t get on with Cuba (my male dog) so we had to separate the house (closed doors) to keep everyone happy and safe. We did this for 9 weeks and honestly, I found this really stressful; I was worried about a mistake being made with an open door and the dogs having a fight. I felt guilty not giving all the dogs as much time as I would have liked. I know lots of people that do live with a spilt house, but it’s not something I would like to have long term. Thankfully he has now found a new home and is now very happy with his new family.
This isn’t a ‘please don’t do this’ type of blog. Social learning, so your older dog showing the younger one the ropes, is definitely a thing. It can make some things easier as you don’t have to show your new dog all the ‘house rules’. However, I do find the new dog usually just learns all the things that from your other dog that you wish they didn’t!!!
I love sharing my life with dogs and feel very blessed to work with all your dogs too and knowing that each and everyone is so unique and really can give us such joy and pleasure.
PS The photo is of Pauline who recently added a second Corgi to her household, and this is one of her first walks where she is confident walking both dogs together 😊 I love supporting people to achieve their goals of a happy relationship with their dog – no matter how many they have.