Christmas should be a happy time for everyone, including your dog. While we humans might be looking forward to a festive break and spending time with our loved ones, it can be stressful for your dog.
Thankfully, there are a few simple steps that you can take to make sure that everyone in the family can have fun and that your dog can enjoy a stress-free Christmas
Keep to their daily routine
A change in our daily routine can be a bit confusing, even for humans who know why it’s happening! Sticking to your dog’s usual routine makes the Christmas period less stressful for them, so it’s a good idea to stick to it if you can. Feed them at their regular mealtimes and take them out for a walk at their usual time.
A long walk can also help if you expect visitors, as they’re less likely to get overexcited when new people arrive. They might even take themselves off for a snooze! Make sure you find time to play with your dog and give them some attention, so they don’t feel left out.
Give them a quiet place
Christmas can be noisy, with big gatherings and crackers being pulled. That can be stressful for any dog, but it can be particularly overwhelming for an older dog or a new puppy. Give them somewhere quiet they can retreat to if it all gets too much. Depending on the age of your dog, you may need to lead the way and encourage them to go for a rest.
You can create a quiet space by using their bed, cushion, or blanket with a familiar smell. Leave them some toys, treats and a water bowl to help them see this as a happy place. It’s a good idea to introduce this space in the run-up to Christmas so that they know where to go if they need a break.
If you have family and friends visiting, they’ll likely want to say hello to the dog. This can be overwhelming if they all arrive at once. Young children can get overexcited at the presence of a cute puppy, leaving you with a stressed-out pooch.
If you introduce your dog to new people, take it slowly. A stressed dog can act in unpredictable ways, becoming snappy or aggressive to protect itself. You can avoid this by letting them meet new people at their own pace and watching for signs that they’re becoming worried or overtired.
Having a quiet space for them to retreat to can help with this. Make it clear to your visitors that their bed or a certain room is off limits and that if your dog heads for it, they need a break.
Watch out for hazards
You won’t have a stress-free Christmas if you have to spend it at the emergency vet, so make sure you keep an eye out for hazards and take steps to minimise the risk of your dog becoming ill. Keep tinsel and baubles out of reach so your dog can’t nibble on them. Remember that chocolate is toxic to dogs, so avoid edible tree decorations.
Keep an eye out for anything that might have fallen on the floor and clear up or hoover regularly. This avoids the risk that your dog will end up eating unsuitable food, Christmas tree needles or bits of a broken bauble.