A happy stress free Christmas for your Dog
Written By Rosie Barclay
A happy stress free Christmas for your dog.
I love Christmas. I love decorating the rooms and putting up the tree, hearing all the Christmas carols and even look forward to the cheesy pop songs. I especially love the aroma of festive food and sharing it all with my family and friends. But what about our dogs do they enjoy Christmas as much as we do?
Christmas though a dog’s eyes, ears and nose.
Dogs are not the best at coping with too much change in their lives so how might Christmas appear to them through their eyes, ears, and nose.
- Strange things suddenly materialize around the house that your dog may have not seen, heard or smelt before.
- A tree may appear looking and smelling a bit like the ones they like to sniff and wee on, but this one is in the home, has flashing lights and enticing, perhaps edible, things that dangle in front of their nose.
- Unlike our dog’s experience with other trees this one may cause their owner to become anxious or cross if it’s approached or used as a handy indoor toilet.
- Children become noisy, excited, and unpredictable and are around a lot more than usual.
- Their daily routine of walks, snoozes and feeding times may change
- Lots of often-unfamiliar visitors come to house carrying strange boxes and bags. Are they friendly and what’s in those boxes?
- Familiar humans begin to act differently. They may become overly excited, tense, cross, wobble and may even burst into song.
- Furniture and pet beds may be moved and new ones added that might not look or smell familiar.
- There are great cooking smells but frustratingly a no show in the food bowl.
- And rolled up paper tubes go BANG.
It’s no wonder that some pets may show signs of stress during the Christmas period. But how can we tell?
Your dog might begin to:
- Hide away.
- Howl, bark, whine, or whimper.
- Toilet in the house.
- Show increased grooming activities.
- Nose/lip lick, yawn when not tired, flatten their ears, show low body posture, pace and pant heavily.
- Scratch up the rugs or destroy the furniture.
- Become more aggressive.
- Act in a way you are not familiar with.
So how can we help reduce Christmas stress for our dogs?
- Start by beginning the preparations early and change the way your house looks gradually over a period of weeks instead of all in one day.
- Place a barrier around your tree to prevent your dog from getting too close. Make sure tree decorations are non-toxic and that includes chocolate decorations and certain plants such as mistletoe and holly. And make sure they are all well out of leaping reach.
- Make sure your dog has their own safe quiet area and leave it unchanged with plenty of familiar smelling beds, blankets and a few items of your unwashed clothing to snuggle up in. It is important that they have somewhere to retreat if the festivities become too much to cope with.
- Keep to your dog’s normal feeding and exercise routines.
- Offer fun puzzle toys for your dog to play with to help keep them happy and occupied as their world around them changes.
- Ask visitors not to make ‘friends’ with your dog by stroking or trying to pick it up but offer a few tasty treats instead that you have prepared as part of your dog’s daily food ration.
- On Christmas day have a few loosely wrapped presents so your dog is happily distracted whilst the rest of the family are opening theirs. A new puzzle/activity toy is a great idea if they can’t open their own presents.
- Be careful when giving your dog human food. A few small pieces of chicken or turkey is fine but do not over indulge your pet and keep all sweets, alcohol and hangover cures safely locked away.
- This is not the best time to acquire a new dog so wait until this busy season is over and life has returned to normal before introducing a new animal friend into your life.