It’s that time of year again! Christmas is fast approaching, and the season for after-work drinks, get-togethers and parties is about to begin. Obviously, we all want to enjoy this time of year; but do spare a thought for your four-legged friends as they don’t understand the changes that may occur in your routine and your behaviour. We’ve put together some advice for you to ensure that you keep your dog safe, comfortable and happy during your seasonal celebrations.
If you are going to go out with colleagues after work, your dog may be home alone for much longer than usual. This could result in him missing his dinner time, or being unable to get out to toilet. Try to arrange for somebody to call in to feed him and let him out. If they are willing, they could take him out for a short walk too, or stay and play with him for a short while. Don’t ask someone who is a stranger to him though…make sure your dog has met them before and is comfortable with them coming into the house. You may ned to plan this in advance.
However much we enjoy our nights out we should remember that we still have responsibilities towards our dogs. Returning home drunk means our body language and demeanour can change considerably and your dog may be confused. In extreme circumstances, he may not recognise you and may growl or even bite you! You should make every attempt to communicate with your dog as normally as possible to ensure that he recognises your voice tones. Dogs rely on scenting to know who's approaching and this can be masked with the smell of alcohol. This coupled with the swaying walk of being drunk can cause your dog to become very confused and he may not recognise you. You should also ensure that you are not too inebriated to let him outside before bedtime, and that you can check that gates aren’t open to enable him to escape.
Also, please remember that it would be unfair to reprimand him for jumping up at you and knocking you over. He may become excitable because events are not as they usually are. Remember, it’s not his fault he’s knocked you over…it’s because you are unsteady on your feet! Also, if he has had a little toilet accident, don’t punish him. He could have been left alone for a lengthy period so it's better to clear up and forget about it. If your dog has chewed or destroyed something in your home, and this is not his normal behaviour, don’t assume that he has done it for spite – dogs don’t think like that. He may have become stressed by the amount of time he has been alone.
When you own a dog, lying in bed nursing a hangover sadly isn’t an option unless you have another member of your family willing to take on the morning duties. Your dog will wake up at the same time as he always does, want to be fed and let out. Don’t punish him for this as he won’t understand what's wrong.
House parties are great fun for humans, but this is not the case for all dogs. Your dog may be sociable and love parties, meeting new people, and being fussed by visitors, however, do try to keep an eye on what he may be eating and (more importantly) drinking! People who don’t own a dog may think it fun to feed your dog from the buffet, but they don't realise that it may be harmful to him. People will also place glasses of alcohol on the floor beside them whilst they are chatting – be vigilant about this, as your dog could become very ill from drinking alcohol. If you have a dog who isn’t that sociable, and is likely to become stressed by lots of people in the house, make sure you have a safe place for him to retire to, away from the party. Ensure that nobody enters his space without your permission – so don’t put him in a bedroom where the coats are being stored! Were somebody to get bitten it would spoil your party and your relationship with that guest. It could cost you a lot of money too! If possible, let him go and stay with a relative or a boarding kennel where he will be properly looked after and kept safe.
If you are out walking your dog in the evening, then you may come across drunken revellers in the street. Their noise and antics may unsettle your dog. Try to keep your pace, take a wide berth, don’t automatically tighten the lead and simply walk past them in a clam manner. This will give your dog the message that you aren’t worried, and he doesn’t need to be either.
It’s a difficult time of year for dogs; dark nights, Halloween, fireworks, all bring different levels of anxiety for different dogs. If you can do your bit to try to reduce the stress of the party season for your dog, you’ll be doing him a real favour and we’re sure you’ll be happier too.