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Tips for keeping your dog happy and safe at Christmas

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Dogs see the world differently from us; whilst we enjoy all the fun and festivities, many dogs can get overwhelmed at Christmas.


There's usually a change of routine, visitors coming and going, bright lights, bangs and pops, decorations, presents and lots of tempting food that comes with irresistible smells!


It's a busy time of year, but it's worth spending a little time thinking about your four-legged family members to ensure everyone is happy and comfortable, especially on the big day.


Here are a few tips to keep your dog safe and happy during the Christmas period:



Routine


Most dogs love their routine; a walk and mealtimes are the highlights of your dog's day, and sticking to these routines on Christmas day will help them to feel calm and reassured.


It's important to understand that our dogs don't understand what's going on as we do, so try to keep things as normal as possible for them by sticking to their usual routine with a walk, regular toilet breaks, feeding times and rest breaks.



Foods to Avoid


I'm sure many of us agree that one of the best bits about Christmas is all the delicious food, but many of the foods we like to eat can be harmful and even poisonous to dogs which can make them ill, and it can often be fatal. Nobody wants a trip to the emergency vet on Christmas Day!


All of the smells might be hard to resist for your dog and although it's tempting to share festive food with them, make sure to keep these things out of reach from curious noses:


  • Chocolate (watch out for chocolate tree decorations and chocolate presents under the tree!)

  • Foods containing dried fruit such as currants, sultanas and raisins, e.g., mince pies and Christmas cake/pudding

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Cooked bones

  • Onions, e.g., sage and onion stuffing

  • Alcohol


If you want to spoil your dog on Christmas Day and keep them out of trouble, give your dog something to do by offering a frozen Kong or some dog-friendly festive treats to keep them occupied whilst you tuck into Christmas dinner!



Decorations


Some dogs might be wary of the huge tree that suddenly appears in the living room and all the decorations that look different and make strange noises!


Bring your tree inside and let your dog sniff and explore before you decorate. Introduce decorations as calmly as possible; avoid letting your dog play with them in case of breakages, and keep any chocolate decorations out of paws reach.


If you have a real tree, make sure to regularly hoover up any pine needles as the sap is poisonous if eaten, not to mention sharp if they get stuck in paws.


Snow globes contain antifreeze which is toxic to dogs if ingested, so keep these out of reach where they won't be knocked over.


Safe Haven


If everything gets too much for your dog, they should have access to a safe and quiet place; somewhere that's away from all the noise to retreat if they need a bit of peace and quiet, where they won't be disturbed. I like to call this a Safe Haven. Rest and sleep are still so important for your dog to prevent overstimulation, even on Christmas Day.


If your dog is crate trained, put their crate in a room where there won't be lots of people coming and going, and cover and fill it with cosy blankets.


Alternatively, you could make a den for your dog if they don't have a crate. You could use a baby gate to section off a room with their bed inside for a reinforced nap time if your dog becomes overstimulated!


Don't worry about your dog missing out on the fun; respect and listen to your dog when they show you that they have had enough.




Visitors


It's important for your visitors, especially children, to know how to interact with your dog to prevent them from feeling stressed or overexcited which could lead to some unwanted behaviours; you might have a puppy who is working really hard on their training or a sensitive dog that dislikes a lot of noise or being stroked. Make sure everyone understands what your dog does and doesn't like.


If you are visiting friends or family with your dog this Christmas, take some of your dog's favourite toys, blankets and a bed to help them feel safe and secure.


I hope you have a wonderful, stress-free Christmas and a Happy New Year with your furry family members!


Do you have a dog that struggles to cope with visitors? If you are worried about your dog's behaviour during busy times such as Christmas and want to set them up for success, don't hesitate to contact me to see how I can help!


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