The build-up to Christmas or any festivity is filled with noise and disruption to our normal day to day lives. We understand that’s how it is, but your dog doesn’t. His whole world may be turned upside down and he will need to learn that the tree is not a pee post and decorations are neither to be feared nor rearranged. More people will be coming in and out of your home, more post and parcels arriving at your door. It can get all too much for our dogs and it’s the way we handle the situations that are key to making it a happy time for every living being in your household.
Reactions will vary depending on the personality of your dog from barking, backing off, running away and hiding to racing around like a thing possessed knocking everything flying.
If your dog pants, paces, barks, spins or just stands and stares blankly away it is an indication that all is not good in his world at that time. Remove him from the situation to a place where he feels safe.
I remember bringing in the tree first time for my young dog and the first thing he did was cock his leg on it! With the look on his face which clearly said “Thanks for bringing that inside I don’t have to venture out into the cold for a leak now!” So how did I address that one? I went right back to what I did when he was a puppy and gave him verbal and touch praise followed by a food reward once he’s had a pee outside on a walk and in the garden. I had a short lead on my dog initially and as he sidled up to the tree I could then guide him with no fuss outside to perform his buisness.. I used a lead because if I’d used my voice to recall to me, I knew without a doubt the urgency of the situation would guarantee I’d overreact vocally.
Does Your Dog Bark When The Christmas Post Comes?
Many dogs already hate the postman and letters flying through the door. They react by barking and jumping up at the window or door and tearing up the post as it is slotted through the door. They continue to do this as they know that their Barking etc. has resulted in the possible intruder legging it! The post is ripped up and in their opinion, it’s “Job Done”. This is not a naughty dog, it’s a dog either frightened or guarding or both. This is exacerbated at festive times of the year due to the volume of the post both from family and friends and also junk mail. Its a great plan to address your dogs barking and territorial behaviour well before the lead up to this time.
Do have the door to the hallway (if you have one) shut. So when the dogs bark you can acknowledge that behaviour as a good one of alerting you to something happening which needs your attention. You can then go to the front door and pick up the post unhindered. Enter the room in which you have contained your dogs calmly, and don’t over fuss over their approaches. When your dogs are home alone, ensure they do not have access to the front door.
If you can’t have the door shut or you don’t have one, then again acknowledge their behaviour and lead them away to another space. You then pick up the post. Think about investing in a post box outside or a cage drop on the inside also for when you are not about.
How To Help Your Dog Stop Barking And Jumping When Visitors Arrive
Do the same as above with acknowledging the barks or elevated sense of excitement, so that when you open the door to visitors your dog/dogs are not present. If they are with you at this moment you will have to micromanage the behaviour, and it’s so much better if they are not in the same space. In the time it will become clear to them that you do not need them with you to invite guests into your home. The dogs will then relax and you can welcome your visitors in with no juggling. Very important to remember your visitor has primarily come to see you, not your dog. Take the onus off the dog, and when the dog is let out to join you, or you walk in to join the dog, give him time to sniff around the visitor to get what is (for him) vital information.
Presents Crinkly paper and lovely smells, don’t be surprised if they are unwrapped before you get down in the morning. So keep your dog away from this room if he’s one of those nosey parkers who open presents before he’s supposed to, as sadly his won’t be the only ones he opens
Advent calendars Keep the chocolate ones well clear of prying noses.
Does Your Dog Getting Over Stressed And Overtired At Christmas?
We all get over tired and stressed at these times of year, so much to organise. Its worth remembering that our dogs feed of our emotions and actions. Screaming and shouting at the family will have an impact on your dogs and the build up will make them pretty anxious if they are that kind of personality. So when your feeling that you can’t cope, take a breath and go for calm sniffy dog walk or play with your dog to clear you head.
Overstimulated and overtired dogs and puppies need the opportunity to take themselves to a restful area or room. If your dog stresses, pants and paces, then calm them by placing them on a line, gently walking them round and then walking them non verbally towards their cosy space where they can rest.
Children and dogs are not so dissimilar. Have a lovely walk in the morning and let them chill if that’s what they want to do. If they are relaxed and happy with you then fabulous, if not then think of other options, such as popping them in another room or leave a door open so they can dissapear to a quiet space if they wish.
Many Dogs Do Not Enjoy Noisy Celebrations and Festive Crackers And Bangers
Your dog may well not want to join in, even with the present unwrapping and banging crackers. Give them options to get away whether to a covered area or behind a sofa or a different room. Do not force them to join in. If you’re having a big party and big depends on the size of your house, ensure your dog is happy – and many are happy and relaxed in a completely different room.
Children, dogs and food.
So much food is about this time of year. On tables high and low, children and adults walking about with chocolates and biscuit is their hands. It’s one endless eating session. So if you have an opportunist in the mix; then do ensure that all is out of reach. You couldn’t train me to leave a cake alone when no one is about, so don’t expect too much from your dog.
Accidents happen and more often when children are involved. If you have food obsessed / possessive dogs in the house then don’t put temptation in their way. Equally, it is the unseen food, the residual smells and morsels on our hands. Children can be caught in the crossfire with two or more dogs wanting the food and maiming the child instead. So be very vigilant and keep hands clean and food free when dogs are about.
If when you get up from the table and to grab another bottle of wine then your dog swipes your entire meal, don’t be angry, it’s your fault! In the dog world, if you walk away from your food, you’ve finished and fair play to the next one in line.
How does your dog know that the new toy is not his? Just guide him away gently from things that he shouldn’t have and give him something he can have, like a yak chew, stag antler or his toy.
Food that is poisonous to dogs include raisins and chocolate (Theobromine) and there is plenty of that about at this time of year. Yum Yum. Sadly for dog, they can’t eat these, so beware your Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies and anything containing chocolate. The darker the chocolate the more Theobromine it contains and the higher its toxicity. Remember alcohol is not something either that a dog should be consuming at all. Artificial sweeteners ( Xylitol) are very toxic indeed. Seek medical advice if ingested.
Poisonous plants in your home.
Many of us love to decorate our homes with natural foliage. Remember to keep the following out of reacting to your dogs. Poinsettia, ivy, mistletoe berries. Seek medical advice if ingested. If your dog eats anything that you feel could be an issue, call your vet immediately.
Cooked turkey leftovers and green veg (not peas as they are high carb) do not add gravy or anything that contains salt. Stick to your raw food Bella and Duke diet and if you like, which many of us do, pop in some left over turkey to their next meal ot use it a a reward for recall practice.
See November 2017 blog