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Six things to help your dog this Christmas

Have you thought about how Christmas and the festivities will affect your dog? Here are 6 things to consider as you plan to celebrate this year.

Suddenly you have moved things around and put up a strange thing in the room which has flashing lights and different smells. Apart from all the changes, you start acting differently. Maybe you have the chance to go out and enjoy yourself and this means leaving your dog at home. You smell different to them and if you have dressed up and they rush to you, you push them away as you don’t want their fur all over your new clothes, then what are they to think?

There are parcels and all sorts of things about to tempt your dog. Chocolate and biscuits, fruit, and nuts which you used to be able to leave out, must now be put up out of reach. They are all dangerous to your new dog. Even the chocolate decorations are not safe.

Now there is no way, I am saying you should not go out and enjoy yourself, put the tree up and decorate it, but just pause a moment and think what it means to your dog. Help them by preparing them and making them feel safe and secure.

Going out?

Then make sure you have exercised your dog first and leave them tired, safe and comfortable with maybe a radio on in the background and of course a light. And then perhaps get dressed up after you have settled them so don’t have to push your dog away when you are ready. A little forward thinking, takes away the stress.

Put the tree and decorations up?

Think about how this affects your dog – I am not saying you don’t put it up but teach your dog not to touch and don’t leave anything on it that could cause a problem. Never leave your dog unsupervised in the room. By the way, do you know your Vet’s arrangements for cover over this time – have it safely written down and pinned up on the notice board. Those sparky baubles look like fun things to play with, and wires are great to chew!

Visitors and what to do:

Make sure that all the family members know what to do with your dog when someone comes to the door. Now what to do when they stay? Make a plan – write the rules down and agree them as a family. Stick to them and most importantly think about where your dog is going whilst you eat that wonderful dinner. And yes I have had to cut off part of the turkey as it was chewed by one of our pups – that’s why I know what can happen!

Are your visitors bringing their dog? Apply the same rules as you would if you were visiting someone else – help your dog cope with this crazy time of the year.

When you visit someone else who hasn’t got a dog, but you are taking yours?

Obviously, you have checked with them first, but then when you arrive, take your dog for a walk, and make sure they are comfortable and have been clean. It is useful to check it’s okay to allow your dog into the garden to toilet during your visit and if not be prepared to walk the streets. Make sure you have your dog’s water bowl with you and food if you are going to be out when they need it. Ensure that only you feed your dog – now is not the time to allow all your training to go by the wayside. Stick to your rules and if it is going to be a problem, then maybe go for a walk to settle things down again. Ideally take your dog’s bed or blanket and show them where to settle in the room you are. If you have a crate at home, then can you take it with you? This will remove the stress and help them to relax. Keep your dog fully supervised during your visit and make sure you keep them under your control if further people come to the door.

What happens if they have a dog?

Have the dog’s met before? No then make sure you go for a walk together before entering the house and no, a play in the garden isn’t good enough. It doesn’t need to be long, but at least 15 – 20 minutes so they get used to each other. Going forwards, you need to bring them into the house together and if you are really worried, then consider muzzling one of the dogs or using an indoor kennel for one of the dogs so you can relax. After a short time, you will see that the dogs begin to work it out and will settle. We cannot make dogs like each other, so be careful please.

If the dogs already know each other, I will still suggest that you are careful, and a walk together will help them settle in the house together. Apply your own rules for your dog and be careful around toys and food. Plan and this will make sure you have a great time, and everyone can relax.

Also check the notes above for visiting another without a dog.

If you are only going to be away from home for a short time, then, it might be best for your dog to stay at home in the peace and quiet rather than expose them to massive stress. Remember, they don’t know what Christmas means.

There is no way I want to frighten anyone, but I also don’t need your call or email saying it has all gone terribly wrong when a bit of forward planning would have prevented this. Here are my tips to a successful time with your dog:

1. Keep to your routines, walk your dog as normal but remember that there will be people out and about that have no idea how to look after their dog – sad but true! So be cautious where you go if you have a dog that can be reactive.

2. Stick to the normal diet – they do not need Christmas dinner unless you want to be clearing up tomorrow morning! Keep all scraps out of reach.

3. Think about visitors and how your dog will cope and then if those visitors are kids?

4. Christmas wrapping is a great temptation to grab, chew and swallow – dangerous.

5. Don’t overwhelm your dog with toys and games, screaming and shouting is fun for us maybe but not for your dog – find them somewhere quiet to rest.

6. Even the dog used to all this, needs time out – so make time for them and let sleeping dogs lie! Keep the kids away.

Please get in touch if you want specific advice for your dog, I will be pleased to discuss some ideas with you. YOU can contact me direct on 02392 412652 or


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