The Christmas season is undoubtedly a time of joy, but for our furry friends, it can become overwhelming. As we come together for various traditions and celebrations, it's important to ensure our dogs remain calm and comfortable amidst all the excitement. In this guide, we'll explore practical tips and insights on keeping your dog stress-free during parties and festivities.
Understanding Your Dog's Stress Signals.
Before we begin to discuss ways to keep your pup calm during the magical madness, let's first make sure we know how to identify signs of stress and anxiety.
Dogs communicate stress through various signals. Keep an eye out for signs like excessive panting, pacing, or avoidance behaviours like hiding under furniture or hesitancy around people. Understanding these cues is the first step in addressing your dog's anxiety.
Even if your dog is used to being around people, festive celebrations can be overstimulating even for us, so look out for any changes in your pups behaviour for signs they may be struggling.
The Lead Up To Celebrations
Although most of your focus will be on keeping your dog comfortable during the celebrations themselves, there are some things we can start doing months before in order to help our pups become more familiar with festivities.
Socialise Your Dog in Advance
If your dog is not used to socialising, try to introduce them to people and children gradually in the days leading up to the event. This helps them feel more comfortable around unfamiliar faces.
Introduce Festive Sounds Gradually
It can be a good idea to gradually start exposing your dog to some festive sounds such as music and laughter. Begin by playing sounds at a low volume and increase it gradually over time to desensitise them to the noise.
Choosing the Right Festive Gear
If your dog enjoys dressing up, choose comfortable and non-restrictive festive gear. Avoid costumes that may cause discomfort or get caught on furniture, etc. Consider introducing the costume in advance, letting them wear it for short periods of time to begin with so that they can adjust to their festive gear.
Grooming for Comfort
Gentle grooming sessions promote relaxation and bonding. Treat your pup to a pamper prior to your celebrations, not only will they feel calm and fresh, they will also smell delightful for your guests.
Pro Tip: Try rubbing some of our lovely Natural Skin, Nose and Paw Balm on your pups nose before any gatherings. The calming lavender essential oils will help your pup stay relaxed.
Keeping Pup's Happy During Celebrations
Festivities often bring a mix of joy and chaos, posing challenges for our canine companions. Creating the right environment is a great way to minimise those potential challenges so you may want to consider allocating a room or corner of a room to your pup. Here, we recommend having a safety station, as well as a distraction zone.
If you are having guests to your home that your dog isn't particularly familiar with, it can also be helpful to slowly introduce your pup to new people in this "canine sanctuary" - somewhere they know they are safe and are surrounded by their comforts. Teach visitors to approach calmly and offer treats for positive associations.
Create a Canine Sanctuary
Designate a quiet and comfortable space where your dog can retreat to when they become overwhelmed. Make sure they have their bed, a fresh bowl of water, a snuggly blanket or soft towel and their favourite toys (or anything else that brings them comfort). For particularly anxious dogs, consider having some calming music playing quietly in the background.
Create a Distraction Zone
Provide interactive toys and engage your dog in activities that divert their attention. Puzzle toys filled with treats can be a great distraction, keeping them occupied and mentally stimulated.
Set up an area or a safe room with these toys and activities, where they may be left unsupervised for short periods of time. This could be combined with the canine sanctuary.
Not only will this provide a secure area for your pup but also gives you peace of mind that they are safe and comfortable while you look after guests enjoy the celebrations.
Prioritise Pre-Festivity Exercise
Take your dog for a walk before festivities begin. Exercise helps release pent-up energy, making them more relaxed during indoor gatherings and reduces the potential for any over excitement when guests start to arrive.
Provide Stability and Security
Dogs thrive on routine. Try to stick to their regular feeding and walking schedule as best you can, to provide a sense of normalcy during festive times, especially as everything else may be chaotic and unfamiliar to your pup. Consistency provides a sense of security.
Avoid Feeding Festive Foods
Try to educate your guests about harmful foods for dogs, preventing accidental ingestion. Instead, have dog friendly treats available for guests to feed pups, though it's best to avoid excessive treats.
Keep Decorations out of Reach
Our homes are often filled with decorations that can be hazardous to dogs at this time of year. Christmas baubles and tinsel can cause dangerous stomach blockages if ingested. We recommend hanging Christmas tree and house decorations up high, away from playful paws and wagging tails.
Coordinate With Other Dog Owners
If you're celebrating with other dog owners and their pups, collaborate on dog-friendly arrangements to ensure everybody's enjoyment. Where possible, try to make sure all pup's have been properly introduced prior to the event and consider a big group walk to kick off the festivities. This provides a safe and neutral environment for pups to accustom and bond.
Stay Calm and Positive
Dogs pick up on your energy and will often mirror their owner's emotions. Try to stay calm and composed to reassure your dog that everything is okay, even during the hustle and bustle of festivities.We know that’s easier said than done when hosting a festive party for family and friends! But remember, this is a time of joy so embrace the chaos and have fun!
Plan a Post-Festivity Wind-down Routine
Relax with a calming walk or a quiet play outdoors, allowing some time to ease post-event stress (both you and your pup!). Finish up with a special treat for being such a good pup and a cuddle on the sofa - glass of wine or hot cup of tea recommended.
Create Positive Associations
Try to reinforce positive experiences during festivities to build lasting associations. By using positive reinforcement techniques to reward calm behaviour, such as treats, praise, and gentle petting; you can strengthen your pup’s sense of security. This will help them feel comfortable during future celebrations.
As we revel in festivities, let's ensure our dogs share in the joy - without the stress. By understanding their needs and implementing some of these tips you will not only keep your furry friend calm but also create lasting positive memories, for both of you. Remember, a happy dog makes for a happy celebration.
Try using a dog-friendly pheromone diffusers or aromatherapy to create a calming atmosphere. Explore calming scents like lavender or chamomile. You can also play soothing music to drown out loud or unfamiliar noises.
Consult a vet or professional dog trainer if your dog struggles with anxiety severely.
All copyright, design rights and intellectual property rights existing in our designs and products and in the images, texts and design of our website/marketing material are and will remain the property of Pawdaw of London. We will treat any infringement of these rights seriously.