by Dave Wright – Senior Coach // December 2017

Christmas is fast approaching and, though we humans are undoubtedly relishing the prospect of presents, parties, pudding and pies, our canine companions need to be uppermost in our thoughts when considering any plans for celebrations, visitors to the house and the inevitable onset of fireworks!Those of you who attend training classes, particularly the lucky ones who are currently enjoying foundation training with your local Dog School, will have plenty of valuable input from your coaches and trainers, but here are some of the fundamentals to consider carefully at this time of year.


Make a plan. Sit down with the family and, taking your individual dog’s needs into consideration, discuss how they are going to fit in with things.


Eat, drink and be merry. Luxurious foodstuffs and potent beverages are a big part of the proceedings and to be found in abundance in most homes. Take care to keep these out of reach of your dog/s, and ensure Granny is not giving ‘Fido’ sneaky sausages under the table!.


Routines and activities. Have things.prepared ready to amuse your dog and distract them from the noisy goings-on. A ready-stuffed interactive food toy filled with their favourite foodstuffs, a shoe box containing shredded paper and lots of small treats, snuffle mats …. These and plenty more ideas will help your dog cope with new and possibly worrying situations. Do get in touch with your local Dog School to find out about ways to enrich our dogs lives and help relieve boredom and stress.


Reassure. If your puppy or dog comes to you looking for reassurance do give it – if they worried by anything they are going to need to know you are there to help them. Please don’t tell them off if they do something you don’t like as a result of being worried – as we say at Dog School ‘reward the behaviour you like and, as much as you can, ignore the things you don’t like. If you cannot ignore it, try to distract and encourage a desired behaviour and then reward that.


Yuletide cheer. Planning a party or having some friends round for pies and punch? That’s great, but ensure that your dog has somewhere comfortable and out of the way to retreat to and relax if they so desire.


Christmas Cracker. We all love to pull crackers or party poppers at times of celebrations, but if your dog is a little sensitive to noises do make sure they are out of the room and in a relaxed, comfy place while you do so.


Hello Visitors. When the family and friends arrive encourage them to wait until ‘Fido’ is calm and not doing his favourite impression of a kangaroo before they attempt to say hello to him. Consider having him safe behind a baby gate or in another room while your guests arrive and enjoy a glass of bubbly with you.


Rudolph and Friends. Your usual walk is probably going to resemble Blackpool Illuminations for a few weeks! Allow your dog to stop and look or sniff at things if he needs to, rewarding relaxed behaviour. Your local Dog School will cover this topic within your foundation course – a very important one to get right.


Ice and snow. Walks with family and friends in winter weather are a healthy and enjoyable activity for both humans and dogs. A well-fitted and comfortable coat, introduced slowly using lots of praise, may be just as essential for ‘Fido’ as it is for you and should the snow start falling, regularly check fur and paws for icy build-ups.


Safe and Secure. If you’re travelling to visit family and friends don’t forget that it is a legal requirement to have your dog secured within the vehicle – either crated, behind a dog guard or by use of an appropriate harness fixed to the seatbelt.


Tinsel and Trimmings. Have your dog around whilst decorating the rooms in which they are permitted. It can be quite overwhelming for them to suddenly come into a room which now resembles Santa’s Grotto! Give them some enrichment to enjoy in the room while you decorate and don’t forget to praise and reward for desirable behaviour. For enrichment ideas contact your local Dog School.


Milk or Plain? Chocolate suitable for humans is toxic for dogs, so be mindful of what decorations you are hanging on the tree and also what is inside any presents underneath – anything ‘foodie’ will soon be detected by ‘Fido’s’ phenomenal sense of smell!


Away in a Manger… Be sure to tell visitors, especially young ones who are fascinated by your dog, that when he or she is sleeping or in their bed they are not to be disturbed – when they want attention they will come looking for it.


Santa Claus is Coming to Town. We all like to dress up in jolly jumpers, hilarious hats and Santa suits at Christmas, just be careful that it’s not too much for your dog – he’s a wise critic and you may need to ‘tone it down a little’ !!

New Year’s Resolution to train your dog? Need some help and guidance on training-related issues?

Nothing is easy without support…


Cue the Dog School Essex team, who are on hand to help you and your dog learn practical and handy skills to make those park picnic days with your favorite furry friend just a little brighter!

Come rain or shine you can get in touch with us to find out about our classes throughout Essex and start your journey to a bond that lasts a lifetime!

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