Dog behaviourist shares safety tips to take your dog to the Christmas market

Christmas Market

Canine cottages has teamed up with Dog Behaviourist Rachel Rodgers to reveal her top tips on keeping your pup safe at any Christmas market this year. 

As Christmas is all about spending time as a family, no one should miss out – including our furry friends,  so with searches for dog friendly Christmas markets up by 114%, expert  holiday letting agents Canine Cottages have shared their picks on the UK’s top 6 dog friendly Christmas markets. 

For the most part, the idea of taking your beloved pooch to the Christmas market is a fun activity, it can be a really overwhelming experience for your dog and for yourself. But that doesn’t mean you and your pooch have to miss out on the festive fun; rather, it’s valuable to understand how to ensure your dog’s happiness in a bustling environment. 

 Clinical Animal Behaviourist Rachel Rodgers listed her top tips for a happy pooch

 Prepare your pooch 

“Dogs can find it difficult to adapt to certain environments. Rachel explains that “If you normally walk them in the quiet countryside then a busy City Centre Christmas market is a big leap! They should be familiar and comfortable being around unfamiliar people and ideally going to unfamiliar places. You could even try using some of the sounds from Dogs Trust on SoundCloud to prepare them for people chatting, beeping of any lorries reversing.”  

Use the right equipment  

Ensuring that your pup is comfortable is crucial to the experience you have at the Christmas market – as they’re likely to be busy.  

Rachel suggests “a flexi lead, or a long lead that you may use in the park is not the lead for this outing. Your dog could get themselves into all sorts of mischief sneaking behind the stalls and stealing food they shouldn’t have -your flexilead could also trip someone up and injure them”  Instead, “just avoid them- take your dog to the markets on a Y shape harness and a fixed normal length lead 3 ft /2 meters is ample.” 

Know when your pup is comfortable  

It’s important to pay attention to your dog, Rachel advises to give them comfort breaks-  take them over to patches of grass, to go to the toilet. Give them treats when you encounter weird and wacky things and most of all,  be prepared to leave – I know it may not be what you want to hear / read but your dog’s enjoyment and safety really should come first”. 

Look out for any signs of discomfort such as “ their tail tucked between their legs, their ears back and maybe really subtle signs like them licking their lips then be prepared to continue your festive fun at home”. 

Remember that busy social events are not for every dog. Some will be scared by the big crowds, noise and bright lights. 

Pay attention to potential dangers 

There are a few hazards that could endanger your dog whilst you’re at the Christmas markets. It’s important to look out for them so you can have an enjoyable experience. 

Rachel mentions that alcohol, chocolate, onions and grit can harm your dog.

“Alcohol – this is toxic to dogs. Christmas drinks like mulled wine make it very tempting for them to take a sip. Make sure you keep them away and take a bottle of water so you can keep them hydrated.” 

Rachel adds that it’s specific but beware of onions, as “the bratwurst stand always has lots of chopped up onions for the hot dogs”. Onions are not good for your dog. Perhaps visit the markets in the daylight so you stand a better chance of spotting some of these dangers. 

Grit! “While this is obviously helpful it’s dangerous for your dogs. Make sure you wash their paws when you get back from your trip so that there’s no chance of them licking the grit” 

Here are some dog friendly Christmas markets to visit this year: 

  1. Edinburgh Christmas Market – 17th of November to 6th of January 2024
  2. Manchester Christmas Market -10th of November to 21st of December 2023
  3. Sheffield Christmas Market – 10th of November to 24th of December 2023
  4. Bath Christmas Market – 23rd of November to the 10th of December 2023
  5. Kensington Christmas Markets – not as overwhelming for dogs as Winter Wonderland  – 16th of November to the 31st of December 2023
  6. Oxford Christmas Market – 30th of November to the 23rd of December 2023


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