While we may enjoy the excitement of the festive season, often our pets don’t. Dogs are creatures of habit and can get upset when their routines alter like at Christmas and Hogmanay.
This can be especially true of old dogs, recent rescues and puppies. It’s important to try and stick to your routine and help your dog adjust to what might be a difficult time for it – remember it’s the dog’s home too. It’s easy to get distracted with lots of people around, so why not set the alarm to remind you when it’s time to feed the dog or go for a walk, and make sure to keep the water bowl full.
Extra people in the home, noise, loud music, fireworks and late nights can make a dog nervous and even bring on behaviours not normally seen like hiding, panting, pacing or toileting in the house.
An adult dog needs a minimum of 12-14 hours of sleep per day and puppies at least 18 hours, so you must ensure they have the space to do this during the busy holiday period. Don’t let people disturb your dog when it’s sleeping or allow children to constantly try to engage it in play.
Designate a quite area for your dog and make sure that people know to stay away. Build a shelter for your dog. A large, cardboard box turned on its side with bedding will do, or if your dog already has a crate in a quiet space, you can use this and make it a human-free zone!
Some dogs get very nervous around energetic children - this is a time when bites can happen so you will need to monitor contact between them. This applies to tipsy adults as well.
Remember that puppies which are handled too much can feel bruised and sore, older dogs might have recurring pain and don’t want to be touched, while rescue dogs could feel frightened and agitated.
A lot of Christmas food is toxic for dogs. Keep these away from your dog, especially raisins, sultanas and chocolate! Don’t let people feed rich foods to your dog or you might find some rather unpleasant presents left about the house. This is a good site on keeping your dog safe: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health/dogs-at-christmas
Having your pet’s welfare in mind will make the season a jolly one for them too.