Walk in the morning when there is less chance of fireworks going off and keep your dog on lead. Many dogs go missing at this time of year after getting spooked by unexpected fireworks even during the day, so it’s just not worth the risk.
Alternatively you can skip the walk altogether, one day in the house isn’t going to kill them. It’s a great opportunity to do enrichment activities or brush up on your training to tire them out mentally instead.
If you know your dog is worried by fireworks or its their first encounter get prepared just in case. Have a cosy den ready such as a crate or coffee table covered with a thick blanket.
You can add some extra carbs to your dogs evening meal such as potato or rice, this will fill them up and make them sleepy, helping them stay relaxed during the evening.
Have some Kongs, Lickimats or chews to the ready, chewing and licking helps to make it a positive experience as they release endorphins, making your dog feel happy and comforted.
The chances are random, loud bangs and flashing lights are going to increase your dogs arousal, so make the most of it. Rather than waiting for your dog to decide if it’s going to be a good or bad experience, take control and make it a positive one! Play tuggy and chasy games, or if your dog prefers food make it animated and fun by bowling it across the floor.
Start playing when you hear fireworks and continue until after they end for maximum effect.
Dogs ears are much more sensitive than ours, they will be able to hear fireworks that you can’t!
The countdown has begun, the first advent chocolates (or miniature gin) have been snaffled, shopping is in full swing and its almost Christmas.
It can be a hectic time with lots of novelty for our dogs and especially for new puppies. People coming and going, changes in routine, unfamiliar smells (mince pie scented candles anyone?), food everywhere, strange noises and that weird twinkly green thing in the corner with the lovely, shreddable boxes underneath. Christmas can be as stressful and exciting for dogs as it is for us.
So, as with anything the 7 Ps are your friend (Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Pissy Puppy Problems). With a few weeks to go, now’s the time to plan ahead to make the festive season a pleasant time for family and friends, two and four legged alike.
Think about your plans for Christmas. What are the potential sources of worry, excitement or destruction for your dog? Does your pup find new people wildly exciting? Are they nervous about being handled by strangers? Or are they likely to steal the chocolates from your tree or the turkey from the table? Think about how you might avoid or manage these situations and prepare for them.
Our top tips for ensuring peace and goodwill for pupkind:
Calmess and rest
Make sure your dog has a comfortable, safe space to retreat to if they feel overwhelmed or just need some down time. This could be a separate room, a crate or bed or perhaps a portable travel crate if you are visiting friends or family.
Help your pup to calm themselves. Keep an eye on their stress level and have calming activities like long lasting chews, lick mats, frozen stuffed Kongs or snuffle mats at the ready.
Management and space
Put measures in place to separate your dog from guests if you need to. Whether that’s to keep feral toddlers from pulling puppy’s tail or prevent rehearsal of unwanted behaviours like jumping on guests, stealing food or shredding the presents. Puppy pens and baby gates are invaluable.
Are you likely to have doggy visitors? Multiple dogs in small spaces can be stressful for everyone, especially if they are unfamiliar with each other. Plan ahead, manage introductions in advance if you need to (or avoid them altogether if it’s not right for your dog) and make sure each dog can have their own space
Let your friends and family know if and how you’d like them to interact with your dog, particularly if they have young children. People may be used to feeding tidbits from the table, rough play or disturbing puppy when he’s resting, gently let them know if that’s not appropriate for your dog.
Set training priorities to work on with your dog before the big day, for example greeting visitors calmly or settling on their bed while you eat. Choose one or two things which could help things go smoothly and train for a few minutes each day.
And finally, Christmas can be busy for humans. Think about how you can meet your dog’s needs if you won’t have as much time for them as usual. For example, top up exercise with bursts of active play or indoor fitness sessions if they’re likely to get shorter walks or plan enrichment activities such as puzzle feeders to keep them entertained if you have less time to train or play.
Merry Christmas from the team at Boomerang Dogs. If you need a hand keeping your dog calm and happy this Christmas drop us a message
We will have a range of natural chews, treats and enrichment items available throughout December for you to pick up if you need some distractions to keep your pup busy during the busy holiday season.
Post by the talented Caroline O’Rourke