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Have you ever thought about how difficult Christmas can be for your dog?

It is looking a lot like Christmas.....

This is probably one of the hardest times of the year for most dogs.

This is not just about the obvious dangers of poisoning and the fact that there is a lot of rich food around.

If dogs are living as a family with children they pick up on the excitement and have to cope with extra noise, people rushing about, lots of rich food being prepared and cooked and the general chaos that goes with Christmas. This can be especially difficult for recently rescued dogs.

Alternatively if dogs are not part of a big family set up, then there will still be changes to routine. For most dogs this is probably of no consequence but there is certainly the potential for an increase in anxiety levels.

This is why it is not only puppies that get given up to rescues after Christmas is in the rear view mirror, but also a fair proportion of adult dogs too.

Our comings and goings are unpredictable during this time and our dogs can suffer from being isolated when we go out to meet friends for coffee, or during the actual festive period when we are out for long hours having meals with family and friends.

Do think clearly about how long you are leaving your dog over this time. It may be that your dog is not welcome in the houses of friends or family but this does not mean he should be left longer than he/she would be on a normal working day.

Then there is the opposite of this scenario the dog that is expected to be the life and soul of the party and do tricks and generally join in with all the festivities. This for some dogs might be possible but it is unlikely.

We all know how hard it is to cope with additional family ourselves, and we often feel like we need a bit of time and space.

It is not surprising that family rows are common over this time and it is also well known that many people file for divorce after Christmas. I am sure some of our dogs would choose to divorce us if they could-but dogs pick up on all of these emotions too.

Make sure any visitors understand that your dog is not there to entertain them. They should not be asked to sit and perform for people and any dogs need to be provided with a safe secure and quiet area where they can go when they need a bit of peace and quiet where they can go at any time of the day.

This area should most definitely be out of bounds to any children, or adults for that matter. The rule about 16 hours sleep a day for your dog applies to Christmas time, as well as all the other days of the year.

The less sleep your dog gets the more likely he is to get stressed and bad tempered and less tolerant, I think we all recognise this scenario over this time of year don't we?

In short....during the festive period

Don't add a lot of rich food into your dogs diet, it can lead to more than just a dodgy stomach.

Don't insist on your dog joining large rowdy dog walks with numerous people and other dogs unless you know he/she can cope ( this is a common scenario especially on Boxing day and New Years Day)

If you are having visitors make sure they understand that your dog is not there to perform for them

Make sure there is an accessible and quiet place for your dog to go when he has had enough.

Do not leave your dog on his own for hours on end while you are out celebrating-as this will inevitably lead to stress and anxiety.

Spend time with your dog, pick toys with care,and yes, your dog really does like toys that are blue and yellow far more than bright red which just merge into the background.

Enriched environments are good, save some of the cardboard boxes and Christmas present wrappings to provide him with some nice sniffy adventures.

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