Dogs Trust’s top tips on how to prepare your dog for a furry-tale Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time for our four-legged friendsChristmas can be a stressful time for our four-legged friends
Christmas can be a stressful time for our four-legged friends
Julia Youd of Dogs Trust Loughborough, writes..

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for many, but the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas can be a 
sensory overload for your dog. From unexpected visitors to over-zealous family members, and endless food temptations – there is a lot for your dog (and you!) to cope with.

Dogs Trust has put together a useful guide to helping your four-legged friends enjoy the festivities to the full whilst staying healthy and happy.

Coping with visitors

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Christmas time brings more house guests, but there are ways to keep everyone safe and help reduce stress:

l To help keep your dog content and relaxed when people are coming and going, make sure they have an area they can choose to go to for peace and quiet, where they won’t be disturbed. Make sure the area has their doggie bed, fresh water and perhaps a chew.

Set this up before Christmas so your dog has chance to get used to it and learn it’s a positive, safe space.

l Stick to your daily routine as much as possible, for example feeding and exercise times. If you’ve kept to your normal routine, your dog will hopefully be relaxed by the time guests arrive and ready for a nap.

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If nap-time isn’t on your dog’s mind when visitors arrive, offer your dog a safe, long-lasting treat or food puzzle to enjoy.

l If children are coming, chat to the family beforehand to make sure they understand how to behave, for example, to be calm, and not to approach the dog, especially if the dog is eating, sleeping or seems uncomfortable.

Children and dogs must be actively supervised at all times and never left alone together.

Preparing for Christmas

l When you’re gift wrapping, dressing the tree and putting your decorations up it’s important to keep your dog safe. Wrapping paper, string, plastic, or cloth are all too easy to get hold of but can cause severe problems if your dog has the opportunity to eat them.

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l It is also important to be mindful that a dog might also get confused by having a ‘tree’ in their home, so could potentially urinate on it as it is used to doing this on trees outside. Our Dog School guide ( to house training your dog is full of great advice if you need to refresh your dog’s training.

l Dogs have incredibly sensitive hearing so consider avoiding crackers and party poppers. If Prosecco or Champagne is on the menu, make sure you keep your dog at a distance when you’re popping the cork.

l Throughout the Christmas holidays and especially at New Year, there will be fireworks. There are lots of things you can do to help your dog keep calm, particularly by creating a safe and secure den for them to go to if they would like to.

Find out more about preparing your dog for fireworks (

Christmas food and treats

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Most of us like to indulge over Christmas – and so do our dogs, but you need to make sure they stick to dog-friendly treats. There are some foods that are toxic for dogs. They should definitely not eat the following:

Grapes, raisins or sultanas

Chocolate – don’t forget chocolate decorations on the tree are easy pickings

Macadamia nuts

Mince pies and Christmas pudding

Rich fatty foods/fat trimmings

Cooked bones from Christmas meats





Holly berries


Xylitol (E967) – an artificial sweetener found in some sugar-free foods.

A full list of unsafe foods can be found in our fact sheet (

For tips on how to give your dog a happy, relaxed Christmas, visit