We all know that Christmas time takes us out of our usual routine and that is no different for our dogs. Many foreign rescue dogs rely on routine. They often can feel overwhelmed when change happens, which includes decorations in the home, increase in visitors in the home, presents everywhere, tasty food around and even you being home from work for an extended period.
This means that you may see an increase in anxiety and your dogs becoming more sensitive when dealing with situations.
I have created this article so I can share with you my tops tips on how to make this festive period as stress free as possible.
How to help with visitors in the home
It is important that you allow your dog to have a safe place to go and that visitors are aware that your dog will need their space. Ask visitors not to pester your dog. I recommend following your dogs lead, for example if they do not want to approach your visitor then leave them alone. If they do want to come over to say hello and be in the same room as you all, then ensure they have room to move away if they want too. Alcohol is normally a part of Christmas celebrations so be aware that the change in you all will be noticed by your dog. This is the time that they should be in their safe area. Give them some enrichment whilst in there so they can relax.
If your dog is particularly fearful of strangers then I would perhaps avoid visitors to the house during the Christmas period. You are going to be distracted by entertaining your guest and may miss something your dog is struggling with.
Stick to routine
Try and stick to your usual routine as much as possible. This includes walking times and feeding times. Helping keep things as normal as possible for your dog is important for keeping their stress levels down.
Managing their environment
Understanding what your dogs triggers are is important. This is so you can control their environment as much as possible to reduce the chances of them becoming trigger stacked and overwhelmed.
- Create a safe place for your dog to go. Make it so it is away from heavy footfall. This is a great place to have enrichment activities for your dogs to decompress.
- Prevent people from approaching your dog. Ask them to wait for your dog to approach them.
- Keep children from pestering them.
- If your dog struggles around decorations, lights or the tree then perhaps have it so they can avoid going into that room.
- Keep presents and food that can be harmful out of reach.
- When out on walks make sure you are using secure equipment so that they cannot bolt.
- Make sure your home and garden is secure.
Sniffing, chewing & licking are ways in which your dogs can naturally sooth themselves. It helps create feel good hormones and reduce stress hormones. Find what your dog enjoys to do and create opportunities for them. Use things such as licki mats, snuffle mats, long lasting natural chews etc.
The enrichment can also be done when outside the home on walks. This can be done by allowing them opportunities to have walks where they can follow their nose. Woodland walks or scattering tiny bits of treats into long grass or leaves.
Keep walks nice and calm and avoid activities that will increase adrenaline levels.
If you would like further help with your foreign rescue dog then email us on email@example.com