It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And this year might be even more special as we make up for the celebrations missed last year. With all the planning, partying, present buying, and preparing for time with family and friends, there might be someone you’ve forgotten about – your dog. And I don’t just mean what’s in their stocking!

Staying prepared for the festive period

While it is an exciting time, it can also be one filled with stress. Our dogs are experts at picking up on our emotions – so they too can feel the strain at this time of year. They also have to navigate all the changes in your home and the outside world. There are trees appearing indoors, lots of sparkling lights, and people wearing different clothing to keep warm. And not to mention strange blow-up Santa Clauses or snowmen in peoples’ gardens. The world looks quite different, especially for dogs. You may have had a pared back Christmas last year or perhaps your dog only joined your home in the past 12 months. Either way, there might be lots of new experiences for them at this time of year. This is why you should prepare ahead, from food planning to using natural calming remedies for dogs.

However, these aren’t going to be the only solutions. So how can we ensure that this Christmas will be a calm one for everyone involved? Putting as much preparation in place in advance can help everything get off on the right paw.

Keep rules consistent

Ask visiting family and friends to get on board with any boundaries you have within your home or any training exercises you might be working on. This way, your dog can trust that there is a consistent approach from everyone. For example, if there are certain things you prefer your dog not to do – such as jumping up to greet visitors or eating food from your table – then let’s get our environments set up for success! Give your dogs the right job to do so they can’t get things wrong. This might be giving your dog a stuffed food toy or a long-lasting bone while you all enjoy your Christmas dinner. It might also be working, now, on a “settle” exercise on their comfy bed – so they know where we’d like them to hang out.

You can also have a festive pot filled with natural yummy treats, that all your visitors can reward your dog from when they do great things like “sit” to greet them. If your dog is quite nervous around unfamiliar faces, there are calming tablets for dogs that can help their anxiety this festive season. We recommend our best-selling Scullcap and Valerian Tablets for dogs. It is a non-drowsy natural calming remedy for dogs that can be used gradually over several weeks.

Safety first

It’s important that we prioritise our dogs’ safety at this time. While those glass baubles might shine the brightest or be keeping in with your colour scheme – if you have a young dog or a chewer who likes balls, it might be easier to go for wooden decorations. Fake snow, chocolate decorations, cooked bones, fruit cakes with raisins – these are just a few of the things that might be of danger to our dogs. If your family love to spoil your dog, stick a list on the fridge of things that could make your dog poorly – no-one wants an emergency trip to the vets this holiday season.

It’s not only safety you should be aware of. Although it’s a busy time, be sure to remember to keep your dog’s general health as a priority. Little things like cleaning their teeth boost their oral health and can be a great treat! Our roast dinner toothpaste for dogs is the perfect treat to stop them from begging for some of your Christmas dinner. And to top this off, this dog toothpaste tastes just like it!

Ask in advance

If you haven’t seen family in a while – or since you’ve welcomed a canine into your home – it’s worth asking a few questions in advance to make sure everyone will be comfortable together. If you’re visiting someone else’s home, are they happy with you bringing a dog with you? Will they be happy with all of the extras that come with a dog? Such as food, bowls, toys and not to forget, maybe the Roast Dinner dog toothpaste. Where will the dog be allowed to sleep or spend the day? If you have family coming to you – do they have any allergies or phobias when it comes to dogs? Or perhaps they’re planning on bringing their own dog?

Mixing family dogs

Adding other people’s dogs into your home might be difficult for your resident dog if they aren’t used to sharing or don’t feel comfortable in doing so. It may be that the dogs find it hard to settle and want to play all day long. Setting up separate spaces for relaxation and sleep is so important – as quality sleep is a proven way to reduce stress levels. Having different areas for the dogs can also help when it comes to the opening of presents if any of them struggle to share toys or food.

Add in some solo time

One of the biggest gifts our dogs can receive is extra time with you – their family. It’s the time to embrace long walks, playtime and cuddles on the sofa. But as we’ve seen over the past couple of years, our dogs can quickly get used to us being around more – and then find it hard when we’re not. Make sure you add in regular solo downtime for your dogs so that they don’t struggle when your guests leave or you go back to work.

As you approach Christmas, do as much as you can in advance. Leave yourself less last-minute panics. Create your list of rules to pin on the fridge, fill food toys and put them in the freezer, get your dog used to the new decorations one by one, and change your dog’s daily routine in a small way each day. For best results, it’s at this point that you should start giving your chosen natural calming remedy for dogs like our Scullcap and Valerian Tablets or Valerian Compound. Putting half a tablet or droplet in their food morning and night in the lead up to Christmas will help with keeping them calm.

Doing as many jobs in advance allows you to have extra breathing room closer to the big day. Most importantly, stop regularly and take some long slow breaths. Pair these breaths with slow rhythmic strokes along your dog’s side, so you can both enjoy a moment of calm this Christmas.

Written by Caroline Wilkinson, Certified Animal Behaviourist & qualified dog trainer

Keeping pets happy through every season

At Dorwest Herbs, we have over 70 years of experience in herbal pet care solutions. If you need advice on keeping your pet calm this Christmas with our natural calming remedies for dogs and cats, please get in touch. Contact us today to speak to one of our specialists and call +44 (0) 1308 897 272. Feel free to comment below or send any other enquiries you have via email to [email protected].