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Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

This article was written by TOBALIE in cooperation with Nathalie Sari - Tiertraining & Verhaltensberatung

The time around Christmas is often marked by stress, hectic and noise. Of course, these feelings do not go unnoticed by our dog at Christmas. How can we make the holidays a little more relaxed for our four-legged friend? What can we do to make the dog feel good at Christmas?

The pre-Christmas period

The pre-Christmas season already begins in November. We start buying presents, the streets are decorated and lit up. The popular Christmas markets also open. But our dogs only enjoy the stalls a little. Try to see the world through your dog’s eyes. For him, a visit to a Christmas market is usually completely overwhelming. The many people who may climb on top of him, the noise and the many smells mean stress for him.

Instead, take your dog for a nice walk in the countryside and leave him at home afterwards. If your dog is not able to stay alone, ask someone to watch him while you are at the Christmas market.

Why do dogs behave differently at Christmas?

Our furry noses have a well-developed sixth sense. They sense the collective stress and are especially aware of your mood. They mirror our stress and may behave a little differently than usual. Even if you have a lot to prepare, try to find time for yourself and relax. This will also help your dog to find peace. Also, at this time of year, things often change around you.

What changes for the dog at Christmas?

– Unfamiliar scents. In the cosy season, we like to light scented candles, incense sticks and the like to make ourselves comfortable.

– Not only the streets, but also the home is decorated.

– Routines change. Maybe we go out of the house more often to run errands.

– Change of location. Many of us spend Christmas with family. Even the days after are often spent away from home.

– Mostly we visit friends and family. So for the dog, lots of (new) people.

– New food. Some also try to conjure up an extra good Christmas menu for their four-legged friend.

Hundegeschirr - Weihnachten

Hundegeschirr im weihnachtlichen Look.
Gut geschützt, bequem und gut aussehend durch den Winter.

How can I make Christmas relaxed for the dog?

– Avoid strong scents. The dog’s sensitive nose is not a fan of smoky or strongly scented rooms. Air out the room and use subtle fragrances.

– Make sure your Christmas decorations are pet-friendly. Some decorations can be dangerous for dogs. Fearful dogs can be frightened of large decorative figures. The tree in the flat is not meant to be a toilet either, what’s the point? 😉 Try to maintain routines.

– Try to maintain routines, this gives the dog security. If you have fixed feeding, playing or walking times, stick to them.

– Don’t force your dog into long photo shoots, possibly even dressed up.

– Even if it’s well-intentioned, don’t give your dog unfamiliar food if he’s sensitive. This way you can avoid digestive problems and diarrhoea. You can dress up his usual food in a nice way 😉

– Unguarded food can become a found food. Make sure you store poisonous food well. If your dog has got hold of chocolate, xylitol or similar, a vet must be consulted.

– The greatest stress for most dogs is family visits. More on this in a moment.

Relaxing family visits for the dog at Christmas.

Especially dogs that are not used to spending time in strange places or those that are sceptical towards humans feel a lot of stress during these festivities. But with a few tricks, the whole thing becomes more relaxed right away.

It’s best to start practising things your dog doesn’t like early enough. Think about where you and your dog will go at Christmas and what might make your dog uncomfortable.

– Practise driving. Transport to the location should be safe and relaxed for your dog.

– Will there be children there? Small children are difficult for our four-legged friends to assess and are therefore often scary. Make sure that they do not crowd your dog and that he can always avoid them. Please never leave children and dogs alone.

– Explain to all guests and people present what your dog is allowed to do, what it likes and what they should refrain from doing. You can also ask them if they are allowed to feed your dog.

– Set up a retreat. A blanket or, even better, a dog crate will help your dog to relax in unfamiliar places. Once he has learned to retreat there, his safe place is always with him. Please tell everyone present to leave your four-legged friend alone there. No one is allowed to pet the dog in the box or on the blanket! You can find a dog travel blanket here.

– Conditioned relaxation can also help your dog to calm down. To do this, start a few weeks beforehand by saying a word to your dog whenever he is relaxed (e.g. easy), playing music or adding a subtle scent. The body then associates “easy” with relaxation and finds it easier to get into rest mode.

– If your dog is generally more stressed, you can support him with food supplements. You can find tips on this in the New Year’s Eve article. Talk to your vet about what might help him.

– Let your dog arrive calmly at the new place and assess everything. Show him where his place is and where his water is. Outdoors please only with a (drag) leash. Your dog doesn’t know the surroundings and can run away if he gets scared. A safety harness is advisable for insecure dogs.

– If possible, avoid the hustle and bustle and noise. Leave doors open so your pet can retreat. Watch his body language. If it gets too much for him, take a walk, go into another room or offer him something to chew or lick.

If you would like to give your dog a gift for Christmas, you can find gift ideas here. Tips for the winter season can be found here.

Hund an Weihnachten


There is a lot going on for your dog at Christmas. Some take it easy, but some are very stressed. Be considerate of your four-legged friend and try to make the holidays as pleasant as possible for him. Happy holidays!