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Some things money can't buy, such as the immeasurable richness a dog brings to our lives Photo: Alice Loder

Some things money can’t buy, such as the immeasurable richness a dog brings to our lives Photo: Alice Loder

Christmas is a time for giving

Christmas is a time for giving. We share presents with family, friends and colleagues, and our dogs are often included. But money can’t buy everything, and some things we simply cannot put a price on – such as the immeasurable richness a dog brings to our daily lives.

Our love affair with dogs

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Our love affair with dogs often starts in childhood Photo: Cheryl Murphy

Our love affair with dogs often starts in childhood. Dogs provide comfort for children, who will often tell them their deepest, darkest secrets. Dogs provide companionship, teach children a sense of responsibility and respect, and how to communicate with another species. Dogs relieve the loneliness of the bereaved, the elderly and other groups on the fringes of society. Dogs provide a social outlet for owners, and ensure we get exercise whatever the weather! For some people, dogs are their lifeline and life savers, especially when they are guide dogs, assistance dogs and medical alert dogs.

Bonding with our ‘besties’

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Dogs give us gifts that can’t be bought, such as companionship… Photo: Cheryl Murphy

We form incredibly strong bonds with our dogs. We experience a surge of oxytocin, the mother/baby bonding hormone, when we gaze into their eyes – and our dogs experience it, too!  They read our facial expressions, our emotions and our body language. They interact with us to purposely make us laugh, instigating play by bringing us toys, connecting with us socially when they ‘speak’ to us with vocalisation, point their nose to something they want, tap object with their paw or nudge our had for more fuss.  Dogs know when we are sad and in need of comforting, and they dislike discord in the home. They can smell our fear and anxiety.

Dogs are… dogs

But dogs are dogs. They do not understand the English language, are often confused by the mixed signals we give them, and our inconsistent attempts to communicate are often misunderstood.

Perhaps the gift we should be giving our dog this Christmas isn’t one that can be bought with money: it is the priceless gift of listening to their needs, spending quality time with them perhaps giving a massage or a brush and comb, or simply ‘being’ with them rather than ‘doing’. Below are some ideas:

Music

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Listening to music with our dogs can relax us both!

Are you fed up with the Christmas jingles? Listening to music composed specifically for pets can relax you both, so why not take a break from the carols and build some time into the busy Christmas period when you can all sit together and relax to music written for your canine friends?

Walks

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A walk should be measured in sniffing time, not in minutes! Photo: Alice Loder

How about some extra walks with plenty of sniffing time? A walk shouldn’t be measured in minutes, but it should take as long as it takes to sniff around the block!

Education

Have you considered educating yourself about your dog’s needs and body language through one of the many books and courses available? This needn’t cost money either – check out some of the excellent blogs on the internet. One of my favourite authors is Dr. Patricia McConnell.

Priceless gifts

The love and companionship of a dog is priceless. As the season of goodwill approaches, what gift will you give your dog this Christmas that money can’t buy?

Stocking fillers!

But… if you are looking for a stocking filler or two, here are a few of our favourite things – all tried and chewed by our family dogs!

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Beautiful Joe’s Photo: Cheryl Murphy

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Tug-e-Nuff Tugs

Beautiful Joe’s ‘perfectly behaved’ liver treats For every packet you buy, Beautiful Joe’s gives one to charity – so not only are you getting excellent quality treats, you help dogs in need too! www.beautifuljoes.com spacespace Tug-e-Nuff Dog Gear make fabulous tugs to suit every mouth. From sheepskin chaser tugs to rabbit skin tugs with bungee handles and to The Christmas Crazy Thing fleece tug, there is something for every dog. A great stocking filler!
www.tug-e-nuff.co.uk
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Snuffle mats Photo: Cheryl Murphy

 

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Home alone – and happy? Cover photos by Cheryl Murphy

Snuffle mats are high on the ‘must have’ list. Dogs love foraging for treats – it’s good for mind, body and soul. What more can we say? www.snufflemats.co.uk* spacespace Home alone happiness is a necessity, not a luxury. Many puppies are left alone without any training, leading to problems in later life. This book gives top tips to help dogs, and especially puppies, enjoy their own company. Available from Amazon.

 

And while we are enjoying the festivities, some dogs find it all a bit much – so don’t forget to add a Pet Remedy plug-in to your Christmas shopping list!

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year with your canine ‘besties’.

 

Best wishes

 

Kate 

*For ideas and instructions on using a Snuffle Mat, please click here.

Photographs: Cheryl Murphy WWW.CAM-OGRAPHY.CO.UK, Alice Loder WWW.ALICELODERPHOTOGRAPHY.COM. Music for pets available from new world music www.newworldmusic.com