5 Tips For Your Dogs This Holiday Season

With the holiday season upon us – comes lots of fun, celebrations, food and drinks. This can be a busy time. Throw dogs in the mix and kids too for some of you and there is always going to be an element of chaos. Today I am going to go through my 5 top tips to help you manage the juggle of the silly season when you have dogs in the mix.

1. Kids

Teach your kids to respect your dogs and your dogs to respect your kids.

School holidays means the kids are home for weeks on end! Whilst this can be amazing for some dogs and a great chance to play lots of games and build some great bonds. It can also be a lot and quite stressful for other dogs. So make sure to advocate for your dog. Know how to read body language so you can step in and help when needed. Teach your kids that dogs have feelings too and how to respect your dogs. Be proactive in giving them things they CAN do together. Click here for Fun Tools to Help Build Bonds Between Children and Dogs. Make sure to actively supervise kids and dogs together. But then when all is too much, make sure to separate them so your dog has a nice safe place to sleep, eat and rest in peace. Close doors, use baby gates, a play pen, a crate, there are so many management options you can use to help separate when needed. Please make sure to pair separation with a positive for your dog’s so this is never seen as a punishment. Click here for more on how to Teach your child to interact safely with dogs and know the warning signs to look for. At friends at Family Paws have so many great resources too. Have a look here for their handout on what active supervision should really look like. And here for a visual on some of their management options.

2. Visitors

Help your dog to feel happy, safe and relaxed when visitors are coming over.

With school holidays and the busy holiday season right here now, we often have lots of social gatherings and visitors to the home. How does your dog cope with this? Let’s really try to think how we can set them up for success when visitors are over. Does your dog enjoy visitors? Or do they find them stressful?  Does your dog react to the sound of the door bell?

Word up your visitors ahead of time if you need to. Let them know to text when at the door, rather than ringing the bell if it’s the door bell that sets your dog off. If your dog is in their zen den enjoying a treat, make sure to let visitors know to leave your dog alone, when sleeping, eating or resting. Be your dogs biggest advocate and make sure they are ok.

If your dog doesn’t enjoy visitors, I am giving you permission to pop your dog in a safe place with some fun delicious treats for the duration of the social event. I love using things like kongs, lickimats, snuffle mats, etc when having visitors over. Food enrichment is a great way to entertain our dogs, get them working their brains and making being separated from us, a positive. Whether or not you are separating your dog for the duration of your visitors stay, make sure to exercise (physical or mental) them first so they are ready to have a chill out when your guests come over. Dogs need things to do otherwise they will get bored and destructive. Click here from some additional ideas to make your dogs days more exciting.

If your dog really doesn’t cope with visitors, try and make other arrangements out of your home or see if a friend, family member, dog walker or minder can have your dog for a few hours to help them feel happy whilst you have your visitors over. For more on Managing your Dog when having Visitors and Children Coming Over have a read of this article.

3. Food

Keep your dog safe around all the festive season food and drinks.

The holiday season usually equals lots of delicious feasting!! As always we must be extra careful with our dogs to make sure we don’t leave things lying around they cannot have. Do not ever feed the following substances as they are toxic to dogs (note this is not a complete list): alcohol, onions, onion powder, garlic, chocolate, coffee or caffeine products, mouldy or spoiled foods or compost, avocado, bread dough, yeast dough, grapes, raisins, sultanas (including in Christmas cakes etc), currants, nuts (including macadamia nuts), fruit stones or ‘pits’ (e.g. mango seeds, apricot stones, avocado stones), mushrooms, and fruit seeds. Anything that has the ingredient Xylitol in it – this is a natural sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Also, never feed the following as these can be dangerous for dogs: corncobs, green unripe tomatoes, cooked bones, small pieces of raw bone, fatty trimmings/fatty foods, human medications, salt and roughly-cut vegetables. Also ensure your pet dog doesn’t have access to string wrappings around rolled roasts or absorbent pads found under meat when wrapped on trays.

Teach kids to sit down at the table when eating. And make sure dogs cannot get to them. If it is too tricky, make sure to seperate your dogs during kids feeding time to keep everyone safe. Click here for more on managing kids and dogs during feeding time.

4. Sleep

Make sure to never wake a sleeping dog/puppy as sleep is SO important.

The holiday season often means we are busy. Busy with people in the house. And time off work where we feel we need to take our dogs out everywhere with us. This is your reminder that dogs need 12-14 hours of sleep and puppies need 18-20 hours. Some dogs can sleep wherever they are no matter what’s going on in the house. Whereas some others can’t. So please don’t feel the need to take your dog everywhere with you. Make sure they are getting the sleep they need as sleep is important to our overall wellbeing. A tired, sleep deprived dog can become a grumpy dog.

Make sure to teach children and your visitors to never wake your dog/puppy when it is sleeping. And if your dog is struggling to sleep, make sure to give them an allocated quiet place to go and have a rest uninterrupted.

5. Heat

Take special care of your dogs in the hot summers heat, heat stroke is dangerous.

The summer holidays in Australia can get very hot. Although doesn’t feel like it right now for those in Melbourne! Heat stroke is a real thing and can be incredibly dangerous for our dogs. So make sure to walk them before it’s too hot. Or keep them indoors on the super-hot days and play some games with them instead of getting outside. Water play can be really fun too for dogs – so get out the house or go for a swim together. Click here for some great tips on keeping your pets cool. If you are worried, make sure to go to the vet immediately.

For those getting a puppy these holidays have a read of this – Five Tips to Stay Sane in Those Early Days With a New Puppy and Young Kids.

A constant theme under most of these tips is to make sure your dog has a nice safe place that he/she knows is his/hers. This is just so so important! We want our dogs to know they are safe. We want them to know they can rest, sleep and eat uninterrupted. We also want our kids to be able to run around and have fun, be able to eat and know the dog isn’t always going to be there. Just remember to always pair the separation with a positive. It should never been seen as a punishment but rather a way to give them and you a nice, well deserved break from the chaos.

Most importantly, have the best holiday season. Be safe and happy! Have fun, listen to music, dance, laugh and enjoy this time with your dogs and kids!!

And as always, if you have any questions at all or any comments, please get in touch. I love hearing from you guys.

Mel xox

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