Even the most social and friendly of all dogs can be overwhelmed during the noise and chaos of the Christmas holiday season, especially if you have lots of people over for a Christmas or New Year’s gathering. Here are some tips to help keep your dog safe:

  • If you think your dog may be overwhelmed with lots of new people, put him away from all the action in another room, with a yummy chew or filled Kong. Especially during the more hectic times such as people arriving and leaving. Crates can be great in this situation! Play some music in the area or leave the TV on to help mask the sounds of activity going on elsewhere.
  • Even the most social of dogs will need a break from the activity, so make sure you have a suitable area or a crate the dog can chill out in.
  • Assign an adult (not involved in supervising children) to be in charge of your dog if you can’t be – being sure they look out for signs of stress and protect your dog from any unwanted attention.
  • Do not allow children to hug or kiss your dog. Dogs do not like hugs and kisses! Even a dog who tolerates this under normal circumstances, may not tolerate this from strangers in a high stress situation with lots of noise and people.
  • If your dog licks his lips, shows the whites of his eyes or turns his head away when a child or adult is patting him, intervene immediately. These are just a few signals dogs show when they are stressed.

Other signs that your dog does not welcome attention from children or adults include:

  • The dog tries to walk away or tries to hide under furniture.
  • The dog freezes and becomes very still with his mouth closed. He may be staring intently at the person bothering him and may growl.
  • The dog growls or raises fur along his back.

Supervise at all times! Prevention is the key, so help your dog have a Merry Christmas too! For more information contact the Animal Training and Behaviour Centre on 3426 9928 or email: animaltrainingcentre@rspcaqld.org.au