Top tips to set your dog up for success this Christmas

It's the most wonderful time of the year. This year may be a little different than we're used to, but if anything, that just means we all need something to look forward to more than ever.

With fewer guests visiting, things may be a smidge easier for your dog this year. However, there will still be those overwhelming smells of festive food, the excitement of Christmas morning, and hopefully a visitor or two swinging by. Even if only for a mulled drink in the garden and distanced present exchange.  

Helping your puppy during present time on Christmas morning

With so many new puppies across the UK set to enjoy their first Christmas with their family, you may be wondering how they will cope with the mania of presents and wrapping paper everywhere.

We are encouraged to practice enrichment with our dogs and puppies, which is fantastic for them but often involves giving them boxes to break their way into and shred.

So your puppy would be forgiven for not understanding that all those beautiful boxes under the tree are not, in fact, for him!

To make things easier for your puppy during the present opening on Christmas morning, it is a good idea to prepare some extra special treats to keep them occupied.

Here are three simple solutions to keep your puppy busy on the big day.

  1. Extra special, smelly, delicious chews that they don't usually have.
  2. A box of their own; filled with scrunched up paper which you can refill and reload with treats. Have a little pot of yummy treats on hand so you can top this up when they need redirecting.
  3. A frozen Lickimat, Kong or puzzle toy filled with a special Christmas breakfast treat to keep them busy.


Helping your dog to resist the temptation to paw their way through the Christmas feast

At this time of year, most homes are teaming with food, treats, and Christmas delights. Most of us humans graze our way through the season, ready to make New Year's resolutions to shift that Christmas weight gain!

This can be a tempting time for even dogs that have the ultimutt self-control. Take special care of your mince pies, chocolate boxes, and Christmas puds, as raisins, currants, grapes, and chocolate are toxic for dogs.

Keep them up high in cupboards, and be sure not to leave any on low hanging plates for your pup to swipe when you have your post-feast snooze.

Try and avoid leaving your Christmas tipple on low surfaces too, as alcohol is also toxic for dogs. A half-full glass of Bailey's popped on the floor might be just a little too inviting to ignore!

Make sure to let your guests know these rules too. They would hate to inadvertently give your dog something which could make them ill. Nobody wants an emergency vet visit on Christmas day.


Helping your dog manage the excitement or stress of Christmas guests

Whether your dog is one who gets incredibly overexcited whenever someone comes to visit, or it sends them into a bundle of nerves, it's useful to set your dog up with a quiet space of their own.

If your dog is crate trained and happy to spend time in there, then it's a good idea to give them regular breaks throughout the day or when guests first arrive, and excitement is high.

If your dog isn't keen on the idea of a crate or if you'd rather they have a bit more space, then a Dog-G8 can be a useful tool to help keep them safely contained in their own area. It is simple to put up and take down, so if you only need it occasionally, then it can be easily removed from the brackets and stored away until next time.

A nice selection of special chews or interactive feeding toys is useful to help your dog settle in their space and to relieve the guilt of separating them for a while! If you freeze a Kong or Lickimat, then they will last even longer.

If your dog struggles to settle with the household's noise, then white noise is a great way to drown out the excitement to help calm your dog.


Christmas visitors of the four legged variety

When family and friends swing by at Christmas, sometimes this means visiting dogs too. If the dogs haven't met before, it can be a good idea to meet for a short walk around the block first, so they can meet outside the home before coming in together.

This just helps relieve any initial surprise or heightened excitement or stress that could arrive with a visiting friend to be. It also allows you to assess if they get on before bringing them into the hustle and bustle of the home.

If you're in the position of having two dogs (or more) who don't get on very well in the home this Christmas, then setting them up with their own areas is vital. Make sure that everyone in the house is aware of the situation to avoid any unexpected surprises.

The easiest solution here is to let them out to spend time with everyone and for toilet breaks in rotation. That way, both dogs will get some nice, relaxed time with the family without anyone having to worry about the stress of having two unhappy dogs in the same space.


Children and dogs at Christmas

If you have visiting children at Christmas and they're not used to dogs or vice versa, then a little preparation is a good idea.

Kids are brilliant at leaving crumbs and dropping their snacks, so be mindful if they have any chocolate or raisin infused treats to keep your pup safely away until they've finished and you've swept up the leftovers!

If your dog is particularly bouncy or enthusiastic, then it's worthwhile popping them in their safe space until they're a bit calmer so that everybody can settle before introductions.

Children, especially toddlers and young kids, can be very unpredictable for dogs. On a regular day, they are little bundles of excitement, sudden movements, and perhaps the odd epic meltdown. At Christmas, this steps up a few notches!

This can be a lot for dogs to cope with, so keep an eye on your pet, and if things are getting a little much, then settle him in his safe space with a nice relaxing chew or a puzzle toy for a break.


Prepare for the comings and goings of guests

The last thing anyone wants over the festive period is for your dog to escape and go off on their own little adventure.

Ensure that everyone in the home is mindful when letting guests in or leaving the house to keep your dog safely indoors.

A Dog-G8 is a great tool to remind the humans in the house to be careful when opening the front door and keeps your dog safely contained too. It gives you the opportunity to pop your dog on the lead or in another room before opening the gate to avoid any opportunist escapades.


Simply having a wonderful Christmas time

With a little preparation, Christmas with your dog and guests should be simply wonderful. We hope these tips have given you some ideas to help make sure your Christmas is hitch-free and enjoyable for everyone.

All of us at Dog-G8 wish you a very Merry Christmas and a brilliant New Year ahead.