Christmas is a magical time but with changes to the usual routine it can also be a difficult time for our pets, so we asked our knowledgeable Family Dog team for five top tips for keeping your dog happy this Christmas. These tips will also help other members of the family – including children with autism – who may find Christmas a little challenging.
Our Family Dog team gives advice and support to help families with autistic children get the most out of their relationship with their pet dog. Here’s more information on our Family Dog workshops.
Christmas Day Dog Monitor
If you’re usually the one that takes care of your dog but you’re going be busy doing other things on Christmas day, how about recruiting a ‘Christmas Day Dog Monitor’ and asking a younger member of the family to help with caring for the dog; checking he or she has fresh water, giving them a chew toy, playing a game with them or just sitting and stroking them.
This is a great way of helping children to feel important and giving them responsibility.
Why not gift wrap some toys for your dog to ‘unwrap’? This is a nice activity that will provide a great distraction for both your child and your dog. Presents don’t need to be new, they can be out of the dog’s existing toy stash and you can wrap them up in newspaper – your dog really won’t mind!
In addition, you could make some Christmas-themed dog treats or biscuits, so your dog has his or her special Christmas day ‘pudding’ when you have yours.
Wrapping up presents and making some dog treats for your dog before the big day can also be a good way to help children start getting ready for Christmas day.
Here are some great dog treat recipes for you to try.
Christmas Bingo is a fun game for the whole family – including your dog!
Use any pictures you like on the bingo card – they don’t have to be Christmas themed – and your dog can be the bingo caller by choosing the cards with a nose or a paw.
Christmas Day can be quite overwhelming – lots of people, lot of noise and lots of excitement. So, don’t forget to give your dog a chance to rest and relax in his or her own space throughout the day. Where practical, keep their bed in the same place as normal and also try not to have too much activity going on around that space.
It’s also a good idea to explain to your children – perhaps your Christmas Day Dog Monitor – that the dog needs this space and time.
With increased activity in the house over Christmas, your dog may become confused or over-stimulated, so it’s really important that you give them time away to calm down. Giving them a frozen KONG or chew toy can really help them to relax. Here’s some tips for introducing KONGs to your dog or puppy.
We hope these ideas and tips will help you and your whole family have a wonderful time over the festive period. Happy Christmas!