Christmas is a time of year we all look forward to, some of us revert to childhood memories to drive our enthusiasm, others look forward to the time off and turkey. But as much as we include our pets in our plans for the day, the disruption to their normal routine can be uncomfortable to some dogs.
Here are 6 ways to help your dog cope with the changes this Christmas, according to Siobhan Griffin at Lintbells.
Make visiting new places less stressful for your dog
The most important lesson here is how to make travelling enjoyable so your dog stays calm.
Siobhan says, “If you’re escaping the madness and treating yourself to a Christmas getaway, or perhaps you are driving home for the festive season and taking your pooch with you, it’s important to bear in mind a few tips and tricks to make sure they are calm and happy.
“If you are travelling in a car make sure your canine companion is safe and secure by using a harness, fixed crate or a partition in the back. You will also need to monitor the temperature, don’t let the car get too hot or too cold, and never leave them in the car alone. To ensure a stress free journey allow your dog to become familiar with the car beforehand, let them have a sniff around and even put a blanket in there with a familiar scent if needed.”
Try to make life at home as stress free as possible
With guests flowing in and out of the home, it can make home life stressful for dogs – not to mention potentially dangerous if they sneak past and can run outside (many dogs have gone missing this way).
Siobhan says, “Christmas can be a busy time in many households and this can be overwhelming for some dogs, from excited children running around, friends and families visiting to carol singers knocking at the door. If your dog does experience anxiety in situations like this try to keep them as calm and relaxed as possible by creating a cosy area for them away from the fuss with some of their favourite toys and blankets. You could also give them something tasty to chew on that will keep them occupied when you have guests over.”
Hide a present for your dog and make it a game to find and open!
Planning what we give our loved ones is a lot of fun, and on Christmas morning the atmosphere can be positively electric. Make sure your dog has just as much fun finding and opening their gift as you did choosing and wrapping it for them.
Siobhan says, “It isn’t Christmas without presents under the tree, so don’t forget to hide something exciting for your dog to find on Christmas morning, they are a member of the family after all. Treat them to a new toy, their favourite healthy treat or even something that will benefit you which they will enjoy, such as a brain training game to keep them occupied when they are home alone.”
Give them a dog-friendly Christmas lunch
That means no turkey, chocolate, mince pies or Xmas pudding pudding, dried fruit or gravy with onions.
Siobhan says, “We all know one of the best parts of the festive season is the delicious foods; however what you enjoy indulging in may not be the same for your pooch. It can sometimes be hard to resist your furry friend when they are staring up at you at the dinner table, but you should always think before feeding them any leftover turkey or mince pies.
“The key foods your furry friends should avoid this Christmas are anything with onions or garlic in including stuffing and gravy, dried fruits which can be found in mince pies and Christmas pudding, along with alcohol, cheese and of course chocolate. Try to stick to lean meats, vegetable scraps (without onions) and boiled potatoes.”
Get out into the fresh air on Boxing Day
After a big meal the day before, you might not need any convincing that this is a good idea but getting out and about into the fresh air will make you and your dog feel great – plus you can show off your new Christmas jumpers, coats and boots.
Siobhan says, “Feeling a bit sluggish after all that Christmas indulgence? Then why not get up off the sofa and go for a Boxing Day walk with your canine companion. Not only can you get outside and enjoy so some fresh winter air and burn off some of those mince pies, but this will also keep you dog active and their joints fit and healthy.”
Prepare early for fireworks on New Year’s Eve, especially if your dog has noise phobias
If you have a dog with a noise phobia or separation anxiety, you’ll no doubt be dreading this day of the year but hopefully it draws a close to the year’s fireworks season so think of it as one more night to get through.
Siobhan says, “New Year’s Eve is a cause for celebration all over the country, with lots of fireworks being set off to mark the occasion. Whilst these are beautiful to look at and enjoyed by most, the loud noises can cause anxiety in many dogs.
“If your furry friend isn’t a fan of fireworks and they appear distressed and/or nervous there are a number of things you could try. Why not try muffling the noise with a TV or a radio, distracting them during the noise or even create them a small, well insulated doggy den.”