07 December 2020
As Christmas gets underway, it's easy for routines to be abandoned and for dogs to lose out on exercise, games and attention. It's easy to see how this can all get too much, and when you add to this a tendancy for them to be unsupervised, possibly with excited children in the mix; it's easy to see why most dog bites occur at Christmas, and the victims are usually children.
While it's easy to think that Christmas is just for a few days and that the dog will be OK, to keep them from feeling stressed out and over-threshold, it's so important that they are considered, exercised and maintain as much of a routine as possible.
So how can you make sure you all have a merry Christmas?
- Whether it's Christmas or not, your dog needs to get out, use their brain, and have the fun, games and your time to keep them happy. This is never more important than when the usual routine is different, so just taking time out to be with them and focus on their needs will make it easier for them to cope with life being more chaotic than usual
- Stress at Christmas can be the reason why usually happy dogs may be driven to biting. They are overloaded and no one is listening to the cues that they are stressed-out. It is essential to supervise all interactions between children and dogs - you can use a baby gate if that helps during the times you're not able to be there
- Familiarise yourself for the cues that your dog has had enough and is feeling stressed out. These may include: licking their lips, yawning, showing the whites of their eyes, trying to move away, looking worried or trying to hide
- Never let anyone handle your dog roughly or inappropriately. This includes hugging, grabbing them or playing roughly
- Make sure your dog has a safe space they can go to when they want peace and a break from the festivities. Somewhere quiet, comfortable and welcoming just for them - think a cosy den. Make it accessible to them when they decide they want some time out, rather than shutting them away from everyone
Most importantly, have some proper 'dog time' every day. Getting out and focusing on them and your relationship together will be a wonderful break for you both - a fantastic stress-reliever that will do your dog (and you) the world of good. If they could ask what they would like for Christmas, it would simply be your time and your love.
Worried about your dog? Have a veterinary question?
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