Most people take some time off work during the holidays which means that you could possibly have more time to devote to dog training and socialisation/confidence building. The holidays are a great time to work on the skills you may have been having difficulty with through the year. If there is something that you and your dog are having trouble grasping go back to basics and take your time building from there. For example, if your dog pulls on the lead, go for a dedicated on lead walk during the day, where you have time to stop each time your dog pulls. Hold the lead steady, don’t pull back, and when your dog moves back to make the lead slack you can move forward again. This exercise takes time because you may have to stop every few paces, it also takes consistency over weeks. For this reason, it is a great skill to revisit during the holidays. By the time you have to go back to work, you will have a dog that can loose lead walk. At the least, if you are consistent with this, your dog will slacken the lead as soon as you stop, meaning you won’t have to stand still for as long.
Christmas tree decorations can also be a bit of a problem for your dog, as can the tempting gifts under the tree. Confining your dog will help with this process and keep your dog safe, and the tree safe too. After you have put the tree up, allow your dog to have a sniff around it, then call them away to distract them with something. If your dog never gets the opportunity to eat/play/destroy the decorations they with will usually forget that it is even there. When you are not around to supervise your dog they should be confined, unless they are trustworthy around the tree and gifts.
Fireworks are often a source of stress for many dogs and there are lots around at this time of year. If you are going to be away from your dog for New Year and you know they become anxious around fireworks it may be a good idea to talk to your vet about medication for New Year’s Eve and make sure your dog cannot escape from their yard. Often allowing your dog to remain inside (as long as you can trust them) with the radio on, also helps with anxiety.
If you have a puppy and are not sure how they will react to fireworks it is best to stay with them just in case they have an anxious response. Have the radio or TV on at New Years and just having fun with your dog when the fireworks are happening can really help stop an anxiety problem from the beginning. Play their favourite game, or do some fun tricks, or train with them with great food. If you can have your dog inside with you it will really help them feel more relaxed.
Summer holidays are also a great time to take your dog for walks on the beach and get them swimming. If your dog is not keen on the water, don’t force them. You can try going in for a dip yourself and see what happens. Choose a beach with calm waters at first. Swimming with my old dog, Lloyd was one of the best memories I have of him. He didn’t much like the water but would go in with me in calm water and just swim alongside me- it was the best bonding experience I ever had with him. Swimming is also a great exercise when it is hot. On the hottest Melbourne days I would take Lloyd to the beach at 6:30 am for a few hours, he would get his exercise, and would be content riding out the rest of the days’ heat at home.
Freshwater is so important during the summer. It is best to have a ceramic water bowl for your dogs’ drinking water. Ceramic is harder to tip over and keeps the water cooler for longer. Try freezing a large container of water and placing it in your dogs’ water before you go out. You might also like to fill a plastic wading pool with water for your dog to lay in or drink from, on hot days.
One of the best parts about summer holidays is Christmas and giving your dog their gift- we all do it so don’t laugh. I have just visited my local Opportunity Shop and purchased several stuffed teddies for Ben. I will cut the eyes out of them, and they were so cheap that it doesn’t matter if they get ruined.
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you for taking the time to read my posts and all of the positive feedback I have received regarding my posts. Dog training is a passion of mine, I love working with the dogs, but most importantly I get so much satisfaction helping the people I come in to contact with.
The summer break is a time where we can relax a little (after Christmas anyway) and enjoy our free time. Have fun with your dog these holidays and enjoy the extra time with them.