Getting your dog ready for Christmas!

by Dawn Comins & Cheryl Mason // December 2017

Getting your dog ready for Christmas!

With the festive season nearly upon us, its important to remember that Christmas is not only an exciting time for us, but can be even more so for our dogs. All those wonderfully rich sights, sounds and smells and lots of people visiting! So here’s a few tips to help make the festive period a fun time for your dog as well as your family!

 We love decorating our houses with lots of decorations and of course, the Christmas tree! However our dogs might see these as new toys or even just feel a bit overwhelmed by it all, especially if it is our dogs first Christmas!

 Introduce your dog to decorations and new things slowly and ensure anything they can perceive as a potential toy is out of reach. Waggy tails can easily knock decorations off the tree, a nightmare for us POPD (Perfect ornament placement disorder) sufferers! Be aware that our male dogs may not realise this isn’t one they need to ‘help water’ as they would with trees they normally encounter on their outdoor walks!. With real trees the pine needles can also cause all manner of problems if ingested so make sure you’re hoovering frequently and consider asking advice from the Christmas tree man about which drop the least! That will save you some hoovering time as well!

 If your pooch shows a particular fascination for your Christmas decorations, gifts or goodies it is a good idea to limit their access to these items and distract them or channel their enthusiasm onto a chew or toy that they can safely have instead. Lots of people buy special chews and toys as presents for their dogs at Christmas, but there’s no need to wait until Christmas day like we have to for ours!

It is a great time to make sure our dogs have their own chews and toys which can keep them entertained. Enrichment and mental stimulation are equally as important as physical exercise. Using a variety of feeding and play ideas can have a huge effect on your dog’s behavior. By doing so, they will be more fulfilled and settled and you can have fun with them at the same time. You can split their daily food ration into several portions and use that for fun or exploring games. Alternatively, if you are using treats you can reduce their food slightly.

 Kongs, Treat balls, cardboard boxes/egg cartons with treats inside, snuffle mats, scatter feeding and scent trails are just some ideas you can try with your dog. If you are on Facebook there is a brilliant group ‘Canine Enrichment’ which has even more ideas on there.

We can also make our walks more enriching by allowing our dogs to sniff, socialise with other dogs and people, taking them to new places, allowing them to choose where they want to walk and allowing some off-lead time if safe to do so. You can also do some training outside e.g. practice sit in a variety of locations.

There also might be lots of people coming to visit so it’s a good chance to brush up on our dogs training. How are they with meeting new people, do they jump up all over everyone? As owners we might not mind that, but is great granny or a young child going to appreciate muddy paw prints or being knocked over? We do lots of work on polite greetings in class, and also discuss visitor routines. So maybe when the doorbell rings, our dogs learn to wait behind a baby gate or in the other room, until everyone can get in and settled before coming to say hello.

Some people say the best thing about Christmas is all the food! But some of the common Christmas foods can be dangerous to our dogs, including; mince pies, chocolate, raisins and any cooked bones. 

If you fancy making your dog their own festive treats, then why not try out the recipe below

All these festivities can tire our dogs out, so it’s really important that they have their own space to retreat to for some peace and quiet, away from excitable children and other guests. A sleeping dog must always be respected and allowed to come out to greet everyone of their own accord, when they are ready. Open dog crates can be useful for this, or you could just ensure their bed is positioned out of the way of all the hustle and bustle. 

We hope everyone and their dogs have a positive, safe and Merry Christmas. But spare a thought for all those dogs in rescue kennels waiting for their new forever home, perhaps drop a present into your local centre for them?

Remember, a dog is for life, not just Christmas #givesocksnotdogs

If you want to join our classes in the New Year to then call us on 01392 826080 for more information or to book onto our courses.

Here is Daff and Stuey who belong to Cheryl our Coach getting in the Christmas spirit. Show us your pictures on Instagram @devondogschool