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.