The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

by Nathalie Fraser // December 2017

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

The festive season is upon us once again (where does the time go?!) and while for many of us it’s a fun-filled few weeks of lovely food and spending quality time with our friends and relatives, we have to make sure to take our dogs into consideration and do what we can to keep them safe and happy during this time as well! Read on for our tips on how we can ensure a calm Christmas for our furry friends.

 Food

At this time of year there’s usually lots of yummy food on offer, but don’t forget that too many rich treats or table scraps can cause tummy upsets for your dog, read our guide here. It’s also a good idea to take any leftovers straight out to the outside bin so as not to give your dog the temptation of raiding the kitchen bin and feasting on something that could make them sick! Remember to take into consideration any tree decorations made of chocolate, or presents wrapped under the tree - your dog will still be able to smell the food and will probably make quick work of tearing open the wrapping paper if given the chance!

However what an amazing chance to give our dogs something extra special at Christmas – check out our Doggy Christmas Menu.  In general, try to keep your pooch’s diet as close to normal as possible over the holidays and offer treats in moderation so your dog doesn’t end up with an upset tummy. You can find a wide variety of doggy-safe festive treats in your local pet shop so they can safely join in the fun!

Following on from this, as well as food there’s always lots of other tempting objects around at Christmas such as decorations, wrapping paper, new socks… while of course it’s best to make sure anything we don’t want our dogs to have is kept out of reach so we can avoid them getting to it in the first place, sometimes of course mistakes happen so if they have grabbed something you’d really rather have back, always swap for something nice in return. Dropping a nice treat off to one side will allow you to pick up whatever you’d like back from your dog while they’re off eating their treat, this means we’re not causing them to be worried about losing things that are of value to them and they won’t mind so much about relinquishing their new prize if they get something yummy in exchange.

 Routine and visitors

Much the same as with their diet as mentioned above, keeping your dog’s routine as close to normal as possible during the holidays will really help them stay feeling nice and secure. If you tend to have visitors over, ensure your dog has their own quiet cozy area they can always retreat to if they need some space, and make sure everyone including children knows that the dog isn’t to be disturbed under any circumstances if they’ve chosen to go and have a lie down. They should always have the choice whether to interact with visitors or not so don’t put them under any pressure to meet people if they’d rather not! 

Having a variety of fun toys for your dog to play with can help to create a positive association and keep them happy. If you have a dog that can be worried by new people, it’s a good idea to let them relax in a separate room with something nice like a Kong so they’re able to chill out and enjoy this in their own space. 

If you’ll be taking your dog with you to family or friends’ houses, we would advise taking along their own blanket or bed so they have something familiar. The settle we teach at classes will come in really handy at this time, but things like Kongs and chews are also great for giving your dog something to occupy them and help them relax in an unfamiliar environment.

Walkies

With the weather getting colder and the snow probably not too far off especially here in Glasgow, don’t worry if you find your dog isn’t as eager to get outside as usual! It’s perfectly normal, particularly for smaller dogs or those with short coats who’ll feel the cold a lot more. While fireworks night has passed there’s likely to still be fireworks going on in some places in the run up to Christmas and New Year, this can also play a part in your dog being more worried about going out after dark. It’s completely fine if there’s times your dog would rather not go out for very long, if they’re worried don’t force them to go for a walk.

There’s lots of enrichment you can do with them at home to give them an opportunity to use up some of that energy! You can give them part of their dinner in a puzzle feeder to make dinner time more interesting for them, and scent games are also great to get their nose working and tire them out! These can be as simple as hiding some treats in various locations and encouraging your dog to go find them, or putting some of their kibble in some paper and scrunching this up before allowing them to rip the paper open to find their food. Make it nice and easy for them to begin with before progressing on and upping the difficulty so they don’t get too frustrated or just give up if it’s too hard to figure out!

When out for walks in the snow, it’s best to keep your dog on lead outwith the safety of the garden as they can quickly become disorientated and get lost in heavy snow! When you get back, give their paws, legs and tummy a towel dry if they’re comfortable with you doing so, as being damp or having any grit stuck to them can lead to skin irritations. Always build up very very gradually if your dog isn’t comfortable with being dried just yet!

Hopefully these tips will be useful for you to help your dog enjoy the holiday season as much as you, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Dog School Glasgow team!

 

If you’d like to find out more about our training classes, you can contact us at glasgowdogschool@dogstrust.org.uk. You can also follow us on social media, @dogschoolglasgow on Instagram and @dogschoolglasgw on Twitter!