Rachel, our Nottingham Enterprise Trainer, is sharing with you some handy Christmas advice for you and your dog in her blog below: 

The Christmas lights are on in Mansfield and the big day is just around the corner! Christmas is an exciting time of year for everyone – family, gifts, activities and food a-plenty! It can be an odd time of year for our canine companions however, so read on for some practical tips to help them feel comfortable and relaxed.

  • Random foliage in the home

The festive period usually means lots of decorations, electrical wires and strange, new items suddenly appearing. If your dog becomes worried or overly enthusiastic when you’re putting up the decorations, encourage them into a quieter area and offer a nice chew, a tasty filled Kong or interactive toy. Once the hustle and bustle has quietened down, your dog can explore for themselves and at their own pace. They may not want to approach immediately, particularly if they’re finding it all a bit scary, but if left to it they will have a quick sniff when they feel ready.

  • Making merry!

Like people, dogs can be very sociable and love to be around people, whilst others are more introverted or anxious.

Children in particular can be very scary for dogs – especially if your furry friend isn’t used to being around them, so you’ll need to keep an eye on your dog and ensure that your children interact appropriately and calmly with them.

It is up to us as the adults to teach our children what is appropriate behaviour when interacting with dogs, rather than expecting our dog to deal with excited children as they can be “all hands”. This something that takes time, but it’s really worth it as you’ll create a relaxing environment for all.

Signs of a dog being distressed may include barking, panting and pacing around, hiding away behind furniture or subtler signals like licking their lips and showing the whites of their eyes.

You may want to consider keeping your dog in a separate room behind a baby gate or provide them with a ‘safe space’ such as a crate covered over with blankets if they are nervous. Remember you will need to take the lead on this and make sure their area stays their own.

Other dogs will find their own ‘hidey holes’, such as under a coffee table, or behind the sofa. Whilst these areas may not be ideal for us, they have clearly found a place they feel safe, so encourage the use of this by providing blankets, toys and chews in these areas for them to retreat to if they do feel overwhelmed by new people coming into their house, and ask your visitors to respect this and leave the dog alone in its chosen quiet space.

  • Routine, routine, routine

Many dogs thrive on routine, which can alter considerably over the festive period. Predictable daily walks might change, owners may be around the home more (or less!) and evening cuddles on the sofa might be exchanged for parties and socials. Try to keep life as consistent and predictable as possible. This will help over the Christmas period itself, but also help your dog get back to normal when January comes around and usual routines come back in to play.

  • Watch out for those Christmas treats!

Chocolate, cooked bones, Christmas pudding, mince pies and some mould on cheeses are dangerous to dogs and lots of extra treats could cause stomach upsets. Christmas plants such as Poinsettia, Holly and Mistletoe berries- even our Christmas trees! - can all cause upset stomachs or vomiting. If you are concerned about your dog, seek veterinary advice.

  • For those who need a little extra help relaxing

Adaptil products and Dorwest supplements can help relax your dog and provide them with a little extra support and can be found at many pet shops, vets or online.

For more information, pop into your local Jerry Green Dog Rescue centre and have a chat with one of our trainers who would be happy to offer you advice or training. Enjoy your Christmas and keep your doggy family members safe and happy!

For more hints and tips click here