It’s almost here….
Like Bonnie’s, many of your households will see a marked change of environment – increased levels of activity, change in routine, furniture moved around and decorations in place, new visitors, smells, objects… not to mention the likely and very the detectable rise in your own cortisol levels…
Even temporary and positive changes can impact us negatively if we’re not prepared for them. I’ve put this piece together offering some advice on how to keep your dog safe and happy and help you all get the most from the festive period…feel free to take some of the more personally salient points on board at moments you feel stressed too!
Safety and practicality first.
There’s a LOT of things humans like to have around at Christmas that are problematic for dogs. Poinsettia, lilies, holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, tree needles and ivy are all toxic at different levels. Keep them out of reach of your pooches. Candles, fireplaces that may
not be often used, fairy lights, electronic equipment etc – I’ve known dogs to chew through entire sets of lights, whilst they had been plugged in. Batteries and other small parts can cause a choking hazard, blockage or serious intestinal damage.
Most of us know the lists of toxic foodstuff by heart, but keep visitors (especially little ones who love to feed dogs) in the loop; Christmas pudding, raisins, chocolate and cooked/roasted bones must be avoided.
Keep a note of your Vet’s opening times, phone number and details of their out of hours practice handy. Ensure any medication your dog might need is not going to run out over the holidays too.
Environmentally – exercise is obviously still important. It’s worth mentioning in the next few weeks, as you walk together, keep up the sniffies, fresh air walks and decent cardio – that the salt on the pavements can be a issue for your dogs paws – wash them off when you get home, especially if they are likely to lick/groom themselves. As the temperature drops many people use antifreeze and unfortunately this can leak onto the pavements and roads – it contains an attractant for cats and dogs, and is lethal. Try not to let them drink from puddles on your walks if you think there’s a risk of contamination.
Visitors, and especially kids. Of course, you know your dog. Keep them safe and supervised – this time can be strange for them and trigger stacking can quickly occur – small, incremental stressors that seem like nothing mount almost imperceptibly, and many sad, avoidable accidents occur around this year “without warning”. If you’re
concerned – please get in touch with us, we can help.
To more subtle stuff, how will you help your dog relax and enjoy your home this month?
Like most of us your dog will appreciate the choice to enjoy some time out. A crate, quiet room, or corner where he can sleep, settle and relax will help. Lavender on his/her collar, adaptil spray or plug in, a blanket or bed that is familiar and keeping up with their normal training routine as far as possible will all help. If you haven’t started to teach a “settle”, it’s never too late. Acknowledge and reinforce their calm behaviour and good decisions. Massage, affection and TTouch will help, as will reinforcing your established natural bond together.
Christmas is normally an inherently enriching time for a lot of people – and there’s lots you can do to give your pup the same level of joy. A stuffed kong, snuffle mat, puzzle game, new toy, or appropriate fresh bone/chew will go a long way to providing your dog with activity, stimulation and importantly for you – keep him or her out of mischief. The link below has some lovely and simple enrichment ideas you could try.
If you have any questions about the advice in this article, have your own advice to add, or know someone who could benefit from it, please tag them, forward the article, engage, or get in touch.
Wishing you the merriest of Christmases, truly.
All of us at The Glasgow Dog Training Team.