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The Christmas period is a time of year when many of us try to get together with family and friends, and for some people, this means going to stay with friends or relatives over Christmas day and a few days either side – and if you are a dog owner, this probably means that your dog is invited along too.
Christmas can be an exciting time for both people and dogs, as dogs pick up on the festive atmosphere and excitement in the air, particularly if you have children. But as is the case at any other time of the year, it is important to ensure that your dog’s stay as a houseguest is comfortable and not stressful for your pet, and also, the people who are hosting you too!
If yourself and your dog will be going off to stay in someone else’s home over the Christmas period, here are some considerations to bear in mind to ensure that everything goes smoothly, and that both your dog and your hosts have a good time. Read on to learn more.
First up, it should go without saying that if you are invited to stay with someone else, don’t assume that your dog is invited too unless you have clarified this. Even if you assume that your friends or family will know that your dog is part of the deal, double-check this first to avoid any awkwardness or problems on arrival.
If your hosts have a dog of their own, ideally both dogs will have met before in neutral territory to establish their relationship to each other, rather than on the day your dog moves in. If this is not possible, it is important to find out from your hosts (if you do not already know their dog) how their dog gets on with others in general, and how territorial they are, to identify any potential problems that might arise when you arrive.
Allow both dogs to greet each other and get to know each other without any unnecessary intervention, and don’t give your dog free run of the house unless your hosts say this is ok and both dogs are getting on well. Also, don’t let your dog invade the other dog’s space by means of eating their food, stealing their toys, or generally, upsetting the status quo!
You should take everything you need with your dog along with you, so that your dog has their familiar things with them to help them to settle in and feel at home – and to stop them from trying to steal the resident dog’s resources, if relevant!
You should also take plenty of your dog’s food to see you through your entire break with a few extra portions just in case too, to avoid the risk of digestive upsets or last-minute scrabbles to find a shop that can sell you pet food.
Part of the fun of the festive period is the novelty of having some time off with friends and family and the suspension of our day-to-day lives, which may mean extra-long lie-ins, more time spent chilling out, or perhaps going out to enjoy festive trips and activities.
However, dogs thrive on routine, and maintaining the normal routine that they are used to when they are in a different home and situation to normal can be very reassuring for your dog and help them to settle in and enjoy their time. Try to maintain your dog’s normal feeding times and walks as much as possible, to help to keep them on an even keel.
If your dog is not usually allowed to beg for table scraps or sleep on your bed, don’t bend or break the rules while you are away, or otherwise allow your dog to get away with naughty or forbidden behaviours just because they are in a novel situation.
Letting your dog bend the rules when you are away will make it harder to re-establish their normal parameters when you get back home, and can interfere with your dog’s training and behaviour.
Finally, have a quick chat with your hosts and anyone else who might be staying as guests alongside of you to make sure that everyone knows the rules regarding your dog and what they are allowed and are not allowed to do. This is particularly important if your guests have children who might want to make friends with your dog, as dogs are excellent at getting children to give them treats and allow them to get away with naughty things!
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