How to "dog-proof" your Christmas Part Three: A Pawfect Xmas Day!
There is so much going on on Christmas Day - so how do you make sure your dog is happy and relaxed as well as managing the kids / parents / in-laws / Christmas dinner / present opening and everything else?
MEET NEW PEOPLE & VISIT NEW PLACES BEFOREHAND
If there are new people coming over for Christmas at your house, get together for a coffee beforehand so that your dog can meet them.
There will be so much going on on Christmas day that's new and different for your dog, so if they've met all the humans beforehand that's one less new thing for them to deal with on the day.
Likewise, if you're spending Christmas away from home, it's a good idea to go for a visit beforehand if possible, so that your dog can explore while things are quiet.
Being introduced to a new environment without the hustle and bustle means that, when Christmas Day arrives it will be easier for your dog to relax as he'll be coming into a familiar location, even if there's lots going on.
PLAN AHEAD WITH DOGGY TREATS & GAMES
There are SO many different things happening on Christmas Day that your dog may get really excited and want to join in with EVERYTHING!
Plan ahead and prepare stuffed kongs and Lickimats filled with his favourite treats, or get him a treat-dispensing toy to play with. These will keep him occupied and happy during the busy parts of the day so you can relax and know he's enjoying himself as well.
TRAIN THE HUMANS
Having lots of new people around at Christmas can be really overwhelming for your dog, whether that's at your home or going to spend the day with a family member. This can particularly be an issue if you have a puppy or very cute breed that everyone will want to cuddle.
Before the day, think about what's best for your dog based on their usual lifestyle. Can they handle a lot of interaction or will they be happier with more space, and being left alone?
My mum's dog Charlie has a definite limit when it comes to people and other dogs. He is very good at taking himself away from the situation if it all becomes too much, and he'll often head upstairs away to get away from the younger dogs, kids and busy home.
On Christmas Day, it's important that you set the boundaries for how other humans interact with your dog. Talk to your friends and family about how your dog manages in this type of social situation, when it's ok to play and fuss them and when they need to be left alone.
Also let them know if there are any cue words you use that might be useful e.g. "off" to indicate your dog should have all four paws on the floor.
CREATE A SAFE SPACE
When there is so much going on, it's important to have a place your dog can escape to if it all becomes too much.
If you're spending Christmas at home, it's easy to set up a safe space for your dog - this can be as simple as putting a blanket over their crate, or making sure their bed is easily accessible in a quiet spot.
If you're visiting family, take along your dog's bed and/or crate and set it up somewhere quiet, making sure your dog knows where it is if they need to escape.
Make sure ALL family members - particularly smaller ones - know that when your dog is in his safe space he should be left alone to relax.
PLAN EARLY WALKIES
Christmas Day is nearly here and everyone is excited - including your dog!
There will be lots going on, so it's a great idea to get your dog walked early in the day. This will give him the chance to burn off some energy before the rest of the festivities begin.
It is SOOOOO exciting when you finally get to open your presents on Christmas morning!!
Your dog is also going to be excited, so make sure you have a Kong or similar at the ready to keep him occupied, and have a plan for opening the presents.
Make sure chocolates, sweets and other food gifts are put out of your dog's reach, along with anything that may be at risk of being chewed.
Ensure you put any wrapping straight in the bin to prevent your dog from chewing or injesting it.
Just one more sleep to go - so what are you hoping Santa will bring you?