Top tips for a stress-free Christmas for you and your dog
Have a stress-free Christmas visiting friends and family. Well-travelled dog owner Caroline Hodson advises.
So, this year you and your dog will be going away for the festive season, but don’t just put your feet up and wait for Christmas to arrive — a little planning and communication could help make it a fabulous Christmas for all concerned, and help you avoid some of the obvious pitfalls.
- Firstly, double-check that your dog is invited too! If not, maybe you could volunteer to host instead. Understand any house rules regarding dogs on sofas, and where your dog will be expected to eat and sleep. Work out solutions ahead of time that everyone is comfortable with.
- Who are the other guests? Does your dog know them, and if not are there likely to be any problems? Take care with young children and dogs (an excitable combination with presents to open). Make sure your dog is not left unsupervised with children (it is just not worth taking any risks).
- Make sure your dog’s flea and worming treatments are up to date. Bring along doggy towels and wet wipes, and plenty of poo bags! Also, bring your dog’s favourite toys.
- Pack a little extra of your dog’s normal food (to use as treats, or in case inclement weather delays your journey).
- Take contact details for your vet, check the address and contact details of a local vet, and bring them with you. If your pet is microchipped, have a look online to see if you can register your ‘away’ address.
- Your pet may need somewhere quiet to retreat to, so as well as bringing his bed, consider bringing his crate if he is trained to use one.
- Think about, and plan, local walks. Your dog needs exercise, and it will benefit you too! With sufficient exercise, at roughly the usual times, your dog is likely to be much calmer, and less stressed in the house. You may even entice some of the other guests out with you, and give those left in the house a welcome breather.
- Set ground rules about treats, and if your dog has a sensitive digestive system, bring some treats he is accustomed to rather than something exotic and turkey shaped! Keep your dog out of the kitchen when food is being prepared, and be vigilant for chocolate, cooked meat bones (think splinters), grapes, currants, and sultanas which can make your dog seriously ill — Christmas pudding and mince pies are for human consumption only!
- Don’t leave your dog alone with wrapped presents. The intended recipient may be upset if their presents are opened for them and your dog could become ill if he chews up grandpa’s mince pies. Also beware of chocolates on Christmas trees, and dangling wires on fairy lights. Often it doesn’t take that much force to topple a decorated tree, and the clear up is not simple or pleasant.
- If your pet has the benefit of using your host’s garden, make a rule of going out with him. That way you can ensure that he does not encounter any hazards, or take advantage of any escape routes. And, you can pick up after your dog.
- Ask if you can have access to a door key in case your pet needs a late night excursion. These can then take place without the whole household being woken up. Unless you have express permission, keep your dog off the bed! And if all that works, relax, and have a merry Christmas — who knows, you and your dog may be invited back next year!