Christmas can be a very busy time of year filled with shopping, wrapping presents, attending parties and entertaining guests. While this may be a very exciting time for us, the festive period can be a stressful and confusing time for some dogs.
I discussed this with some pupils at a school in Rugby recently during a Christmas edition of the 'Dog Detectives' workshop. The children were asked to work out who was responsible for a young boy called Tom getting hurt by a dog at a Christmas party. Following a noisy and busy party Tom decided to give his friend's dog a big hug to say 'Merry Christmas'. The pupils discussed how the dog might have been feeling at that moment in time and if what Tom did was the right thing to do. The pupils concluded that the dog could've been quite scared or worried by all the noise and the strangers in his house and therefore Tom should've considered this and not approached the dog. We also discussed how the action of hugging would have made an already worried dog even more worried! When the children were asked 'Who was responsible?', they all replied 'Tom!'. Indeed it was Tom's own actions that caused him to get hurt.
It is important to remember that like us dogs have feelings and we must be conscious of how our behaviour impacts on them. If you are entertaining guests or having a party this Christmas, make sure that your dog has a safe and quiet place that it can retreat to if it needs to. Rather than saying 'Merry Christmas' to your dog with a hug keep them happy by ensuring that they get their daily exercise, time to play and rest this Christmas.