Getting Your Dog or Puppy Ready For Christmas
Another year coming to its end. Christmas is nearly upon us. It is time to start thinking about our puppy and how we might prepare or manage them for the Christmas craziness.
Christmas brings with it a lot of changes to the normal routine and a lot of excitement. The house will look and smell different as we pull out decorations and cook up the Christmas classics. Gatherings at the house, mean groups of people in the home. Or perhaps you go out, in which case your dog may be travelling about with you or spending time home alone. It is important to prepare our dogs for this, especially if you have a new puppy who has never experienced the rush that is Christmas before.
It is time to have a think about what your Christmas routine looks like, and therefore situations your dog will experience. By thinking about this ahead of time you can prepare management strategies. Or teach your dog/puppy skills that you can use to guide them.
Do you like decorate your house? I know I do. Big Christmas tree with a train that goes round, lots of ornaments and figurines scattered around the house. All of which could be frightening, or chewable or neutral to my puppy. Considering this, what will be the plan if my puppy is frightened by my Christmas tree, or thinks my train is fun to bark at or the ornaments make for great chew toys.
- Management! Baby gates and barriers are very useful at preventing your dog from getting access. Placing decorations up off the ground is also helpful.
- Supervised Only. Unless certain your dog is ok and won’t chew the decorations then only allow supervised access.
- Practice Leave It. Such a handy skill to teach your dog. If you haven’t already definitely do so now.
- Consider not putting all your usual decorations out this year. It is great fun to decorate the home but if you cannot manage your puppy and it risks being destroyed keep it in storage this year.
“Is your puppy scared of the christmas decorations?”
If your puppy is showing signs of being fearful or anxious about the changes happening around the home, I would recommend talking to a professional trainer. Fear and anxiety can be debilitating and the sooner they are treated the better. If your pup or dog is a little nervous, go slow. Let them explore the objects and reinforce their bravery. Make the changes to your home gradually.
Delicious Christmas Food
If your dog has stolen the Christmas turkey or ham, you are not alone. It happens! Keeping your dog away from areas where there is easy access to food will be key. Management can include putting your dog outside with a bone or toy. Getting access to that Christmas turkey is a highly reinforcing behaviour, the best training method for puppies is prevention.
Regardless if this is a behaviour your dog has done before or you have a new puppy there are a couple of handy skills.
- Be comfortable when tethered or crated. This is always good management but we want to make sure our dogs are still comfortable.
- Place training or stationing. This is where we teach our dogs to go to a specific place on cue. Many of us do this by teaching our dogs “On your mat” or “Go to bed”. Practice before Christmas as this is a great skill for redirecting your dog from the bench tops, creating space for guests and giving them a comfortable place to rest.
- Leave It. A skill for teaching puppy not to interact with an object or person. Practice now so that this behaviour has a strong reinforcement history come Christmas time.
People here, there and everywhere
It’s great fun having people around for Christmas. For your dog I have a few recommendations;
- Ensure they have a space to retreat to. Lots of people can be overwhelming, especially for a cute puppy when everybody seems to want to give them attention.
- Schedule rest breaks. We often underestimate how much rest we need, and not all dogs are good at taking themselves off to rest. Schedule some rest, in a quiet space with a yummy chew if needed so they can relax.
- Remember your training. If you are working on greatly guests politely or being calm around food, continue the training.
As much as we would like them too, our dogs and pups cannot travel with us everywhere. Ensuring they are comfortable when on their own and able to amuse themselves is important. At Christmas time this year have a good supply of fun activities that your dog can do when home alone. From obstacle courses to having fun chews. Think about safety when leaving activities, your dog or puppy will be unsupervised.
It is also important when you are with them to make the most of it. Play, train and have fun. Doing so can make your dog more inclined to rest when you’re out visiting.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO All families, puppies & Pooches <3
Christmas is right around the corner. It is ok to spoil our dogs and have include them in the celebrations. It is also important to consider the celebrations from our puppies perspective and do what we can to keep them safe and out of trouble.