The festive season is now well and truly upon us. I’m getting lots of auto-replies to emails and I can’t switch on the tele-box without seeing an advert for perfume – does anyone understand those adverts?
Anyway, while I’m trying to decode these perfume ads, I know that many of you will be preparing for guests. While you’re figuring out if you have enough food, how the family politics will play out and whether you remembered to wrap all of the presents, your dog is feeling the shift in energy but without any understanding of what’s actually going on.
Their home has already changed, there’s the addition of a tree and shiny things. There will be people, potentially young, unpredictable, loud people, descending on their home. There will be new smells and new sounds. There will be frequent shifts in mood and energy. There will be food lying around that they may, or may not, be testing. It’s all too much for you and me, so take a moment to think about what this means to your dog.
They have no idea that this is only going to last a matter of days, they’re simply experiencing the intensity of the festive experience in the moment; every moment.
Their home, their safe place, has been irreversibly changed as far as they’re concerned.
Think for a moment…
You watch as the people you love most move your home around, bring the thing you pee on indoors and stick weird, shiny, rustling stuff all over the house. You have no clue what they’re saying to each other, but what started off as fun is now feeling uncomfortable, the tension is rising. There’s food everywhere but all hell will let loose if you go near it. There are smelly things under the aforementioned indoor pee area, wrapped in paper, but you’re told in no uncertain terms that it’s not for you. Then, the energy shifts. You don’t know why but it’s not long before the doorbell rings. You try and say hello but you’re faced with two tall humans and three short humans. The short humans want to play but they don’t know the rules. They’re chasing you, wanting to stroke you, getting way too close to you and all while the tall humans are shouting things in your direction. You try and escape but there’s nowhere to go. The safe places are filled with the indoor pee areas, bags of things you’re not allowed to touch and as you turn around to find somewhere to hide, you knock a drink off the little table. There’s more shouting, one of the short humans is making a noise that could shatter glass and the other two are still trying to ‘play’ with you.
Would you growl?
I bloody would!
Please make sure that your dog has a safe place to go for some time out while all of the festive weirdness is happening. Their home is their place of safety and they don’t understand what’s going on. The shift in people’s energy at this time of year is palpable and they will feel everything you’re feeling, just without any context. They need to be able to chill out, to step away from the intensity of what’s going on and not be forced into a situation where they have to tell you that they’re not happy.
If you’re feeling the pressure too, you have the perfect reason to escape. ‘The dog needs a break; I’m going for a little walk.’ If you feel like you need some time out, you have someone who’ll be by your side, grateful for the opportunity to get outside and breathe.
Enjoy the time you have and please make sure your dog enjoys it too!