Enjoying Christmas with your dog!
Visitors - The Christmas holiday or seasonal parties will often bring new people into the house. If you are concerned your dog will get anxious or over excited, we would recommend getting your guests settled in before introducing the dog to the group. Always ensure your dog has a time out space such as a crate or room where they can rest uninterrupted. Whether your dog is used to children or not, it is sensible to ensure the dog is supervised around children at all times. Also if visiting children or adult guests are not used to dogs make sure you let them know how to behave around the dog. Be aware that people in festive outfits e.g. Santa hats and the general exuberance of visitors or family playing games or after a few drinks may also cause anxiety and lead to aggression from dogs that have never displayed this type of behaviour previously.
Food Temptations - there are always tempting treats at home over Christmas so it’s important to ensure that your dog does not eat anything inappropriate. This includes chocolate, grapes, Christmas cake/pudding or mince pies, macadamia nuts and meat & poultry bones. If the dog cannot be trusted with food placed on a low table, then keep it on higher surfaces. Don’t forget after you all go to bed that the kitchen bin contents can make a tasty midnight snack! Also be careful with presents under the tree (e.g. boxes of chocolates), artificial Christmas decorations such as baubles and plant based displays such as holly, poinsettias and mistletoe which are all toxic for dogs.
Table Manners - If you would like your dog to be around at mealtimes we would suggest using a dog bed or mat to send the dog to and then teaching the dog stay at that place during the meal. We would always recommend using clicker based training or positive reinforcement when teaching your dog new behaviours. For your dog to learn effectively the behaviour does need to be applied consistently so don’t let your guests or other family members surreptitiously feed the dog under the table! (COA Clix range e.g. Whizz Click or Multi Clicker)
It can also be useful to give the dog something to keep them occupied while the family is eating or opening presents such as a dog bone. (COA products - Marrowbone).
See our separate tips for managing pet anxiety with fireworks over New Year at http://companyofanimals.co.uk/training-advice/fireworks