Day 4 - Preparing For A Canine Christmas!
Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, but we need to remember our dog’s don’t understand the changes taking place throughout December!
A little preparation can help Christmas go smoothly for everyone to enjoy and here are some of our Top Tips!
1. Bring some decorations into the main house early to give your dog time to desensitise; many decorations such as tinsel, candles and flowers have new aromas that can affect dogs in various ways as well as some causing reactions if ingested! Some dogs might not like them, otherwise may be affected physically and the over stimulation could potentially lead to seizures or sickness if a scent is too strong or unpleasant for our dogs. By bringing some decorations in now our dogs can start to get used to them, indicate if there is something bothering them etc so by Christmas Day we can have everything set up and it’s not a big surprise for our dogs!!
2. Consider where gifts may be stored, wrapped and displayed; presents for dogs should be kept off ground level and not left unattended while wrapping! This applies to human gifts such as chocolates or toiletries! Gifts we receive should also be off the ground too! We can have a table next to the Christmas tree to display gifts or a tall toy box decorated to look like a giant Santa Sack, store presents in plastic tubs with lids and wrap gifts in a room with the door closed or up on a table so our dogs cannot grab anything. Also keep track of scissors, bows, sellotape etc while wrapping gifts as these can be fun for dogs to run off with!
3. If you’re having a tree or free standing decorations consider putting on a table or in a room that your dog doesn’t have free access to when you’re not there to supervise. Christmas trees often get pulled down or decorations pulled off including the lights. The wires for lights and to the mains socket can be chewed and a lot of damage done very fast to the cable and potentially our dogs! Pretty ornaments like lanterns, light up Reindeer or Christmas Stockings can be attractive to dogs to try chewing so having them off the ground means we can enjoy them safely. There’s also less risk of our tree or other items being toiletted up!!!
4. Start teaching a Settle now ready for Christmas for during present opening, visitors arriving etc. You can sit with your dog while they are on their bed or a blanket and while they are relaxing just gently run your hand down the body slowly. Slow strokes like this can help a dog feel calmer and we can also add a word to this like ‘settle’ which will help remind our dogs of feeling settled when they hear this. Practise in different rooms of the house, while you are doing different things, when someone visits in the lead up to Christmas etc.
5. Be aware of treats and snacks over Christmas; there are some foods we have that are fine for dogs to have in moderation but also many foods that can cause toxicity or digestive issues. Onions inc in gravy, currents and raisins such as in mince pies or Christmas cake, chocolate tree decorations, boxes of chocolates and sweets can all be dangerous to our dogs even in small quantities sometimes. Alcohol isn’t something we should be giving our dogs access to so ensure this is stored out of reach especially liquors! Store foods in cupboards, in lockable tubs, Christmas tree chocolates and candy canes up high, advent calendars off the floor.
6. Remember your dog’s routine over Christmas to help with meals, sleeping and preventing overwhelm from over stimulation. New items appearing in the home can be confusing for dogs, but then add furniture moving to allow for the tree, candles being lit, festive room fragrances, seasonal party food, tree decorations, gift wrapped presents, tree lights flashing, motion activated Christmas decorations that go Ho Ho Ho or Merry Christmas all add up to a lot of changes in a small space of time and this can be overwhelming for dogs of all ages, even more so if your dog is nervous or in pain. Ensure your dog has a nice calm space to go if they want to – it might be another room that doesn’t get decorated, or they might like to lay behind the sofa or have a crate with cover over it. Keep your dog’s routines as much as possible too such as times of meals, having walks, still having playtime, grooming, training etc.
7. Remember, Dog’s deserve something from Santa Paws too! A new toy, bag of treats, pack of chews, new bed etc – there are some amazing gifts designed for dogs over christmas so there will always be something for every dog’s taste!
🎄 🎁 🎄 🐶 🎄 🎁 🎄 🐶 🎄 🎁 🎄 🐶 🎄
We will also be talking about Safety for our Pets over the Christmas period in the next episode of The Dog’s Frolics over on Dog Desk Radio – watch out for next week!