I have just come back from the shops where I have picked up the last little things before Christmas. Of course these last little things were presents and essentials for Nemo (and Spencer the cat) during the holidays. I bought some new toys and have replenished my ‘break in case of emergency’ bucket filled with long-lasting eatable chews for Nemo. I use this bucket any time Nemo seems to have an excess of energy and I cannot entertain him myself. Every dog owner should have a break in case of emergency bucket in their home. This is just one of the things you can do to ensure you have a great Christmas break with your dog. Here are some others…..
If you are adopting a new dog over this period it is the perfect time to spend building confidence and socialising him as much as possible. Many people have a break from work so you will have more time to devote to taking your new dog to many different places so he experiences all life has to offer. Special training trips to the local shopping strip will expose your new dog to all sorts of people, noise and transport, do not forget to take some treats for your dog as he experiences these things to create a positive association with them. This is called classical conditioning and should continue throughout your dog’s life.
New Years Eve is the time for fireworks which creates anxiety for many dogs and their owners. If you know your dog is fearful of fireworks make sure you bring him inside and give him something to entertain him before the fireworks start. Some dogs may even need some prescribed medication from the vet to get them through the evening. If your dog suffers from a fear of fireworks it would be best to ensure you or someone else is at home on New Years Eve to supervise your dog. Dogs have been known to escape even the most secure homes and gardens during a fit of anxiety. Remember, any strategy you have to ease anxiety in your dog must be started before any fireworks begin.
This time of year also bring with it food, so much food. Pancreatitis is a serious health condition for dog which can result in a short period of time from consuming fatty food, dogs who are overweight are at greater risk. Refrain from feeding your dog rich and fatty foods, even when they use those adorable ‘please feed me’ eyes. Human food wrapped under the Christmas tree can also be a risk to inquisitive dogs, as are skewers used for BBQ’s which can find their way on the ground with lovely meaty leftovers your dog will not be able to resist consuming, skewer and all. If you want to give your dog a special treat a raw fresh meaty bone for breakfast or dinner is the best idea to keep them occupied and satisfy any chewing urges.
Now is also a good time of year to put behaviour change programs in to place. If your dog suffers from separation anxiety or your want to change your dogs sleeping or living location now is the time to implement these plans and changes. While you are on holidays from work you will have more free time and it may not be such an issue if you have some interrupted sleep. It also gives you a good few weeks to build a solid foundation of new behaviour before work commitments begin in the new year.
Travel is an inevitable part of the holiday season, if you are able to take your dog away with you there are some essentials you should know. Make sure your dogs’ vaccinations/medications (tick, worming, flea and kennel cough especially) are up to date as well as microchip and dog tag information in case your dog becomes lost. Pack eatable chews to keep your dog entertained and calm in new places. Become familiar with your holiday destination with regard to dog parks, walking tracks and veterinary clinics and ensure you have your dog secured in the car during transit either with a seatbelt or crate. If your car ride is a long one, scheduled breaks for your dog will make the trip easier. Medications can also be prescribed if your dog suffers from car sickness.
This time of year can be so stressful but with proper planning you can make it enjoyable and purposeful. Have a wonderful Christmas, Happy New Year and thank you all for your feedback and support this year.
Katarina, Nemo and Spencer.