Understanding the Risks of Festive Season Gatherings for Dogs

Dec 24, 2023 | Dog Fights, Dogs

Two golden retrievers playing in the grass on a summers day

Understanding the Risks of Holiday Gatherings for Dogs

The holiday season is synonymous with joy, celebration, and gatherings. As these festive parties become more frequent, it’s crucial for pet owners to consider the safety and well-being of their dogs. It is important to emphasise that dog related incidents can happen amongst any dog breeds. They are not limited to dangerous dog breeds.

At Animal Emergency Service, we have noticed a worrying increase in dog-related incidents, particularly dog attacks, during the festive season. Understanding and mitigating these risks is essential for ensuring a safe holiday for everyone involved.

The Risks Associated with Holiday Gatherings  

Bringing your dog to a Christmas party can expose them to various risks such as:  

Encounters with Unfamiliar Dogs

When dogs meet each other for the first time, particularly in enclosed areas, it often results in territorial disputes. These incidents arise from anxiety which can trigger aggressive behaviour.  

Did you know? Even family pets that are well-socialised might exhibit unpredictable reactions in unfamiliar environments or when engaging with unfamiliar dogs. 

Stress and Overstimulation

The vibrant setting of a gathering, such as a party can often create an atmosphere that can be overpowering for our canine companions. Dogs, being highly sensitive to their surroundings, can find themselves under immense stress in such situations. This heightened stress, induced by the overwhelming stimuli, has the potential to provoke aggression, even in dogs that typically exhibit calm and friendly behaviour. 

Resource Guarding

Resource guarding is when dogs display possessive behaviour towards items like food, toys, or even people. Dogs have a natural inclination to guard what they perceive as valuable possessions. This behaviour can manifest when they feel their access to food, toys, or even certain individuals is threatened. At Christmas parties, where there’s an abundance of food around, dogs may become possessive and territorial, leading to potential aggressive confrontations.

Bringing your dog to a Christmas party can expose them to various risks

How to have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season with Your Dog

Implementing certain precautions can significantly contribute to creating a secure environment for your dog: 

Understanding Your Dog’s Boundaries

Take into account your dog’s personality and comfort level in social settings involving other dogs and people. Recognise that not all dogs thrive in these environments, and it’s crucial to respect and understand your dog’s boundaries.  

Continuous Supervision 

If you opt to bring your dog to a festive social gathering or party, ensure constant supervision. It is important never to leave dogs unattended, especially when they are interacting with other pets. Continuous supervision is key to preventing conflicts or potential accidents. 

Establish a Safe Retreat 

Designate a quiet space or provide a familiar crate where your dog can seek refuge if they start feeling overwhelmed or anxious amidst the festivities. This retreat spot serves as a comforting haven amid the hustle and bustle, offering your dog a sense of security and calm. 

Recognising Early Signs  

Dog owners should be able to notice the subtle signs that indicate stress or potential aggression in their beloved pet. Be attentive to aggressive behaviour like rigid body language, growling, excessive panting, or other behavioural changes. Being aware of these warning signs empowers you to intervene early and prevent any escalating situations. 

By taking these proactive measures, dog owners can ensure a safer experience for their dogs during social gatherings and parties. Fostering a happy and positive environment for everyone involved. 

Handling Dog Attacks

Despite taking all precautions, dog attacks and dog bites can still occur. Knowing how to respond is vital:  

  • Avoid Physical Intervention: If dogs begin to fight, don’t attempt to separate them physically. By physically intervening you are putting yourself at risk of further injury. Instead, we recommend dog owners use a loud noise or another distraction to break up the fight.  
  • Seek Veterinary Care Immediately: Prompt medical attention is crucial, even for minor wounds or injuries, as they can lead to infections or other complications.  
  • Document and Report the Incident: If another dog is involved, exchange contact information with the owner and document the incident for future reference.

The Role of Animal Emergency Service

Animal Emergency Service is dedicated to providing comprehensive emergency care for your pets 24/7. 

Our team of highly experienced veterinary professionals are equipped to handle various emergencies, including those resulting from dog attacks. We understand that emergencies don’t adhere to a schedule, and we are prepared to offer immediate care when you need it most.  

The holiday season should be a joyous time for everyone, including our pets. By being aware of the potential risks and taking appropriate measures, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for your furry family members. However, should an emergency arise, remember that Animal Emergency Service is here to assist.  

In case of an emergency, don’t hesitate to call Animal Emergency Service. We’re here to ensure the safety and health of your pets. 

We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the Traditional Custodians of the lands, waterways and skies across Australia. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and Elders past and present.