Leading animal experts at Wood Green, The Animals Charity, have urged pet owners to get clued-up on dog safety and follow some simple rules to help keep their four-legged friends relaxed over Christmas and new year.
With the hustle and bustle of family visits and unusual trips over the festive season it can be a demanding time for dogs as well as their owners.
In recently years we have seen some tragic dog incidents involving children over the festive season, and Wood Green is calling on owners to take time to consider their dogs’ stress-levels and apply some useful behaviour basics over the busy period.
Wendy Kruger, dog behaviour consultant at the charity, said: “We love this time of year because it’s a break from routine. Many dogs enjoy the hustle and bustle, just like we do, but for other canines it can be quite stressful. When the whole family descends on a house it can be a recipe for canine worry. For example, for auntie’s dog, who doesn’t normally live with boisterous children and then finds itself surrounded at Christmas.”
She added: “Because Christmas is a special time of the year for humans we can behave differently towards animals as well, for example, letting them in to areas of the house they are not normally allowed in. We’re thinking emotionally rather than practically, and a dog could be exposed to a lot of new people, loud sounds and things it’s not used to – and it can be particularly tough on dogs with noise sensitivity.”
She urged owners to try and stick to their dog’s normal routine as much as possible, as well as ensuring your pooch has somewhere quiet to escape from the festivities.
“It may go without saying, but it’s important to keep an eye on how your dog is coping with lots of new people and children in the house,” she said.
“Everyone is having fun and may be distracted by what’s going on around a busy house, it’s not always easy to keep an eye on the dog or the children.”
Top tips to keep your dog calm over Christmas;
- stick to the dog’s routine as much as possible, feeding and walking it at usual times
- but if you are about to hit a busy period in the house, where the dog might get overexcited, maybe one of you could take it for a walk to get out of the house for a bit
- keep an eye out for canine stress signs, such as panting, pacing or seeking solitude
- respect the dog’s quiet time, if it’s looking to be left alone for a while leave it in peace, maybe with a toy or a chew that it can concentrate on
- consider using baby gates or barriers to keep the dog out of busy areas at busy times
Wendy added: “While your dog doesn’t necessarily know what Christmas is all about, you can still treat them to a special day of his or her very own, filled with things they would love – from an extra-long, interesting new walk, some fun new toys or an afternoon of rewards-based training.”