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Surviving Christmas!

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year if you were to ask me. However, it can also be a very stressful time, not just for you, but your dog also.

I love the spirit of Christmas, everyone getting together, socialising and having a great time. But sometimes you have to 'put' up with a guest you wish you could uninvite (this can be human or another animal). This is often where the added stress and pressure comes in.

Dogs are very good at picking up on our moods, emotions and feelings so please take that into account if you are getting too stressed and anxious over Christmas.

Christmas stressors

  • Everyone wants their house clean and sparkling before everyone arrives. This can be hard living with pets. Constantly dog hair, lick marks, have to wash all the dogs' bedding, toys etc.

  • Food- any dietary requirements, always a fussy eater, making sure the guests don't give your dogs' too many treats, or that the dogs' eat something they should'nt.

  • Dogs- This can be added stress of you if you are worried about your dogs' behaviour. I have dealt with a lot of people who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks at the thought of having people coming over to their house because their dog is highly aroused, barks a lot, and in some situations out of control.

  • Children- This is a big one! Kid's on Christmas day are very excited, and often have had sugar overload. It is critical though that you teach your children boundaries and respect, especially when it comes to animals.

  • Where is everyone going to fit?

  • What is the weather going to be like?

These are just some of the Christmas stressors you may have over Christmas. However, some of you may have your guests for just a few hours, whilst others may have them for a few days, or even a week! No matter how long you have your Christmas visitors this Christmas, please be an advocate for your dog! After all it is their home. If you have visitors that are not 'dog people' that is fine, but what they must realise is that they are going into your home, and you will not be locking the dog out or away just for them. Dogs' are a part of the family.

Christmas is a time where the entire family should be together. Whether Christmas is at my house, someone elses house, or down the beach or on the river one thing is for sure my dogs' are with me, and their needs are met. When your dogs' needs are met, they are often happy, content, relxaed, and therefore well behaved. No one wants to spend Christmas with a dog constantly begging or drooling all over you for food, or to hear the constant barking for attention, or to be scratched to pieces. That's not enjoyable for anyone, including the dog.

With just 7 days until Christmas, if you havent already, now is the time to start training! If you train each day, you will see results!

Christmas Training Tips for your dog!

  • Be consistent! This is the number one thing in all dog training, and can often be overlooked. Consistency is what will help your dog to practice what they should be doing in certain situation, all of your words, actions, intentions, and rewards must be consistent. If you can't be consistent, you dog won't reach their full potential.

  • Work on their impulse control. This is so important for any dog, and can be transferred across many different situations such as, not stealing/begging food, waiting to cross the road until called, and not chasing that Brush Turkey that keeps taunting them.

  • Calm Greetings. This is something you should always work on when you know you have visitors arrving. This is where prevention is key! I always have special treats on hand for just the vistors to give them. Always make sure your dog has had a walk, or done something (Nosework) before the visitors arrive to get out that extra energy.

  • Placement Training- Again this is something that can really help you and your dog, especially when you are cooking in the kicthen and don't want them under your feet. You can also train them that when they hear the door bell they run to their bed/spot.

  • Calm/Relax/Settle command- Now this is something every dog should learn. Having three Border Collie's this was something I had to teach mine, especially Phoenix. He would once never settle or relax, and instead was in a constant high alert phase. If you meet him now you would never know. When he starts to get himself worked up, I just tell him to relax and settle and now takes it to a whole new level.

  • Walk your dog everyday! Make sure your dog is getting enough mental and physical stimulations.

  • Have your own dog special spot, in your home, or when your are out. This is a safe space/spot where the dogs' can go to when they want to be left alone. NO ONE IS TO ENTER THIS SPACE! Please ensure that no kid's try and enter this space.

  • Make sure your dog has a choice. This is critical. Don't ever force your dog into doing something they don't want to do. If your dog does'nt want to say hello to someone don't force them.

So what do I do leading up to Christmas with my 3?

They always have their UWDOGS pamper session, nothing like a freshly groomed dog. Everyone loves to pat a clean, soft, silky and fluffy dog. I will still do a few training sessions focusing on impulse control. Training is a life long thing. It is ensuring the dogs' will always win. Make sure I have their space and areas available. At home they have the media room which is the coolest spot in the house, and if any of them is in their no one is to enter (I tell everyone when they arrive) and when we will be down the river they will have their own tent, and Zoe will have her pram. I make them some special Christmas treats, ensure I have plenty of chilled water, cooling matts, and vests. I will ensure they have enough medication and food to get them through the public holidays. Most importantly Christmas will be spent having too much fun playing with them, and the rest of my family.

Merry Christmas!

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