For some households, Christmas is a busy time of the year and it is often accompanied by lots of visitors. It's important we set our dogs to succeed in these social situations, and let's face it, who wants extra Christmas drama!Here are some steps to help set your dog up for success;
- Set up a safe space for your dog. Sometimes the hustle and bustle can be a bit too much. By setting up a safe space for the dog, it allows the dog to take themselves away from all the action. Let your guests know that the safe space is for your dog only and if your dog is there, to leave them alone and let the dog be.
- Not every dog wants to be touched or fussed. Some older dogs may have stiff and sore joints and may not like certain areas of their body being touched. Outstretched hands and leaning over a dog can be intimidating. With visitors, ask them to leave the dog alone and only interact with the dog if the dog chooses to come up to them. Ensure the dog's body language is soft and wiggly when going up to visitors. This signifies that the dog is open for engagement. If the dog walks away, then that is a clear sign that the dog does not want to engage further and it's best to let the dog be.
- When giving the dog their food or treats, allow the dog to eat in their own space away from everyone else. At Christmas time some dogs are given food that is different from their normal meal and this can be more valuable to the dog. The dog may also have heightened stress due to the changes around Christmas and households being full and busy. Add on top our visitors with lots of bodies moving around, this could potentially cause conflict. I like to eat in peace without being poked or prodded and I think it is the least we can do to our furry friends too.
- Who doesn't like a Christmas cracker at Christmas? Some dogs can be a bit noise sensitive and the sound of Christmas crackers or party poppers being opened and pulled can startle a dog. Before getting the crackers or poppers out, place your dog into another room with something for them to do such as a Licki Mat. This will allow you to still have fun and enjoy your crackers without worrying your dog.
If we can help set our dogs up for success we can avoid any unnecessary conflict, allowing us (and our dogs) to relax and enjoy Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone from all at the DTC!