Top Tips For A Very Merry Post-Lockdown Christmas With Your Dog

30/01/2023 - Blog

It’s been a couple of years since we could all be together at Christmas and for many pups, that’s literally a lifetime. Here are my top tips for enjoying every single thing about the festive season whilst including your pet as part of your family.

Back in 2020, I blogged about keeping dogs safe at Christmas.  Some of the food and drink we indulge in are deadly poisonous to our pets and so are some of the things we decorate our homes with.  As far as I know, the potential risks I mentioned in that blog are just the same.  However now we also need to think about how to introduce lockdown puppies and shy dogs to the hustle, bustle, noise and chaos of Christmas.

Firstly, Please check out my previous blog to find out what your dog can and can’t eat this Christmas.  There are also some great activity ideas in the article. If you’re not ready to read it right now, I’ll post the link again at the end of this piece.

Your Dog’s First Christmas

I love the festive season. The glittery lights, the music everywhere, the baking, the busyness, the parties and the food.  But imagine how it must feel to a dog who has never seen, heard or smelled anything like it. For some pets, it must be quite overwhelming.
So what training and socialisation could you put in place to make Christmas less stressful for your pup?

  • Crate Training
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Going Out And About
  • Visitor Training
  • De-stressing Techniques

Crate Training

When everything around them is changing fast (xmas decorations appearing, everyone busy with preparations, parcels arriving, lots of visitors etc) your pet will probably relish having a safe den all of their own. Crate (or pen) training not only gives you the peace of mind that your pet can’t get in a muddle, it also helps your furry friend to feel a little more secure.
  • Set your dog’s crate or pen up in a relatively quiet part of your home.  Perhaps there’s a corner of the living room or the kitchen that doesn’t turn into Piccadilly Circus at Christmas time?
  • Make sure that your pet has room to stretch out, lie flat and/or turn around in circles to get comfy. 
  • Covering the top and sides of the crate with a blanket will make it feel even quieter and safer for your pet.
  • Adding a bowl of water will also mean that your dog can stay safely in their ‘pet cave’ until the hubbub subsides
  • Don’t forget to put in a couple of favourite chews and cuddly toys for entertainment.

It can take a bit of practice for your pet to get used to a crate. So start the training as soon as you can. Read my tips on crate training for puppies and adult dogs here.

Avoiding Separation Anxiety

If your pet is used to you being home at certain times of the day, then your Christmas shopping trips and extra social engagements might be a bit of a worry for them.  When Separation Anxiety can lead to furniture and fittings being damaged, neighbours being annoyed by barking and howling, indoor toileting and sometimes even pets hurting themselves in a bid to escape.

Try to be sensitive about when, how often and how long you leave your pet home alone.  If necessary, invest in the services of a pet sitter. 

If you are at all worried about Separation Anxiety, take a look at my website page.   I have done a lot of studying and training to become a Separation Anxiety Pro Trainer and I can help you to understand why your dog behaves in this way, and help you to put in place some management strategies that suit you, your pet and your family.

Discover more here

Going Out And About

Be aware that parks, streets, town centres etc will all be much busier than usual over the Christmas period. Please don’t force your dog to traipse around a busy Christmas market with you if they are not comfortable in crowds. 
Instead of striding out immediately, find somewhere quiet to do some people watching and ease your pet into the situation.  If they’re not happy, take a few steps back.  The last thing you want to do is upset your pet – stress can lead on to reactivity and then you really will be restricted as to where you can take them. 

If you are out enjoying a winter walk with your dog, remember your dog walking etiquette.  Keep your pet on a lead in busy places and don’t allow them to greet other dogs until you’ve checked with their owner it’s OK. 

Fancy a hot chocolate or a pub meal to finish off your walk? Has your dog been in a cafe/pub before? Do they know how to relax and settle?  It’s worth doing some training beforehand so that you can be confident.  Ideally, book a table in advance and ask to be seated in a quiet spot so that your pet’s impulse control isn’t stretched beyond its limits.

Visitor Training

In an ideal world, how would your dog behave every time a visitor arrived?  I think that most of us want our pets to say ‘hello” politely and then settle themselves down while we chat.  Some visitors are very dog friendly and will happily accept licks and offer belly rubs. Others are not keen on having dirty paw marks on their best clothes. Very young visitors can easily be knocked over and hurt by an overenthusiastic pooch and the same goes for older or less mobile friends and family.

Your dog’s crate or pen is going to be a valuable tool when you have visitors. But first you need to get through the initial greeting.

It’s OK to use baby gates to stop your dog running to the door. But, if you can, it’s even better to train them to ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ while you let people in. And as for jumping up – well, it’s surprisingly how quickly a dog can learn to keep all 4 paws on the floor when they get rewarded for doing so.  The trick is to practice, practice, practice well in advance of visitor season. And then to chat to friends and family BEFORE they arrive to ask them to help by ignoring your dog until he or she is behaving politely.

Again, if you have any questions about visitor training, chat to the team at CK9 Dog Training and maybe set up an online consultation to get some tips.

Calming an Over Excited Dog

Honestly, dogs are so much like children.  The excitement of Christmas can send them so giddy that they don’t know what to do with themselves. My Nan used to have a saying when she saw toddlers running around red faced and laughing hysterically.“It’ll all end in tears” she’d say and sadly, it often did.

So when your dog is hyper-aroused – either anxious, excited, confused or grumbly, you need to find a way to calm them down quickly. 

First, remove them from the situation.  That’s not always easy at Christmas time, but ten minutes or so in a secure garden should make a big difference.  Try scattering a few treats on the lawn so that they can concentrate on sniffing and put everything else out of their minds. 

Once they are calm, pop your pet in their crate/den with a nice stuffed Kong or a lick mat to focus on.  Ask all of the people in the house to ignore your dog for a while so that he or she can settle.  ***Top Tip, prepare some stuffed Kongs, before Christmas and keep them in the Freezer.

Dogs love frozen Kongs and you won’t need to abandon your guests while you look for suitable Kong contents.

Have A Wonderful Christmas
It just remains for me to wish all customers, friends and staff at CK9 Dog Training a very happy Christmas.  And if you haven’t already done so, please revisit the link below to remind yourself how to keep your pet safe during the festive season.
Refer to.