Christmas can be a very busy and exciting time for humans, the darker evenings and colder weather combined with the lights and decorations can give a very magical feel. However this is rarely shared by our four legged friends. Christmas day often sees a very busy household, with loud excited voices. Children rarely seen by the dog want to play with the dog, whilst other family members step over them in order to navigate a crowded room. These events can quickly turn to disaster often leaving the dog(s) to front the blame. But, is it their fault? No!
When I speak to my clients about these busy times the number one point I make is ‘control and management’. By managing the situation and being prepared we can prevent so many potential disasters. So what do I mean by this?
If you are expecting a busy household Christmas day make giving your dog(s) a good run in the morning a priority. Many owners will overlook this with so many others things going on. Children excitedly trying to open their presents, whilst the adults try to get the Christmas dinner preparations underway – taking the dog out can quickly be forgotten about. Make it a priority, and ideally an off lead run. If your dog doesn’t have good recall there are no shortage of fields that can be rented including the ‘Kay9 Haven’ in Mytchett.
Find a Safe Space
Ensure that your dog(s) have a safe space, a utility room or quiet area. Put their bed, toys and a nice chew in there. Make sure everyone (especially the kids) understand they do not go in that room. This way if your dog decides things are getting a little too much, they have a room to retire to. Make sure this is something you practice in the build up to the day. We don't want our dogs feeling as though they are being put out of the way. We can build positive associations with the room by giving them their meals in the area chosen. New toys or lovely treats happen in the room. This way our dogs feel GOOD about being in this area and are more likely to use it by choice when the kids get too much or the adults get too loud.
Prepare some toys
Preparation! Have a selection of Kong’s ready to go, when you sit down to eat your dinner give your dog a tasty Kong or other brain game for them to play with. If your dog is sensitive to noise have a radio ready in their room that you can leave on, this way the loud excited voices in the other room won’t be quite so intrusive.
Mental Stimulation. An afternoon walk is obviously ideal, but let’s not forget the mental stimulation. There are so many fantastic dog games on the market now and we can really use these to our advantage. I have listed 4 of my favorite toys below.
These games will not only keep your dog(s) busy, but will also mentally challenge them which is fantastic. Depending on the day you have planned a short 5 minute training session would also really help. When I am tight for time I LOVE to use scent work. Hide some tasty chicken/turkey/cheese etc. around their room and encourage them to look for it. A few minutes of using their nose will be very tiring for them.