How to Keep Your Dog Stress Free this Holiday Season

The season of the holidays is knocking on the door, and you want to keep your four-legged family member happy and stress-free. They deserve that much, as they are not just pets but a part of the family.

This upcoming season of delights can be a little challenging for them. If your dog is anxious or active he or she may be prone to get stressed at this time. You can follow some tips and tricks to keep your dog happy during the holiday season –

  • Make a safe space for your dog
  • The holiday season is the time when we all have guests who come over to our place. If you are expecting a similar scenario, arrange a safe place for your dog to go to when feeling nervous, especially if this is their first time around strangers. You can arrange a small space with their favorite toys and a bed

    You can also ask your guests not to bother your dog. Alternatively, you can introduce your dog if he or she is friendly, and make them accustomed to the guests. You can do so by making the guests leave treats for them, but avoid direct contact with the guests. If you are unable to resolve this issue on your own, it is better to consult a trainer.

  • Stick to the routine as much as possible
  • It may be the season for you to procrastinate and relax, but you need to keep your dog on a schedule. The schedule does not necessarily have to be strict. Make sure that you take your dog out on walks and get his or her meals right on time as you do for the rest of the year.

    You can also make a checklist to keep a check on the activities of your pet. This will help you to know for sure that everything is done on time even during the busy holiday season. Sticking to the routine will assure that your dog is not feeling the pressure of the holidays.

    Holiday season is also the time when there is a lot of foot traffic in a home. The delivery person visits a lot, bringing gifts, parcels, and postcards. If your dog is easily upset by the doorbell or unfamiliar voices, you can consider deactivating the bell and requesting visitors to knock. As a last resort, you can leave your pet at a daycare facility for the active hours and pick up at the end of the day. 

  • Give Plenty of Attention to Your Pet
  • Your attention is going to get divided when you are attending or hosting a party or some guests for a prolonged time.  A power-packed holiday season denotes that you will have very little time to play and spend with your four-legged friend. 

    The absence of attention may cause stress for your dog. You would need to make sure the little time that you are getting to spend with your dog, you pet them, snuggle and cuddle with them. This way you will be able to make up for the lack of attention.

  • Some Exercise to Stay Fit
  • It is known to all that exercise does not only keep you fit physically but mentally as well. This works for your dog as well. If your dog is not exercising properly, they may become restless, irritable, and anxious. Make sure that you are making your dog exercise at some point in the day. 

    You can also add this to the schedule to assure that you do not skip this part. Walking is an amazing way to make your dog exercise. This will help your dog stay calm and stress-free even during the holiday season. 

    If your dog is feeling weak or lethargic, you can get him some special treats along with the regular diet.

  • Act According to the Nature of Your Dog
  • Many dogs are shy, irritable, fearful towards strangers or guests who come over. If that is the case with your dog, the right thing for you to follow is to stop forcing your dog to interact with your guests. They do not have to be friendly and like everyone they meet. 

    If your dog has the habit of jumping on your guests, then you might want to work on that before the season of holidays prevails upon us. In case your dog is mischievous, keep him or her busy with their favorite toys or any other stuff they love.

    There are certain breeds of dogs which are friendly towards strangers, and others which are not. Some of the breeds which might not mind your holiday season guests are - 

    • Bulldog
    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
    • Golden Retriever
    • Labrador
    • English and irish Setter
    • Havanese
    • Spaniel
    • Samoyed
    • Shih Tzu
  • Keep an Eye Out for Your Dog
  • You would not want to lose your dog, during any time of the holiday season. Well, this can be the scenario on any given event, when your guests come over. To avoid such situations, make sure that your dog is always under someone’s surveillance. 

    If your dog tends to go out of the door just when it is open, then you may want to teach them callback commands. Always keep the collar with a tag on your dog. This way even if he goes out on his own in the neighborhood, someone will easily recognize him and return to you.

    Studies say that approximately 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. A lot of that happens during the festive time. According to PETA, shelters overflow right after the holiday season every year. A lot of the newly sheltered dogs are runaway, while some others are given up by the owners.

    You do not want to take that risk with your furry friend. Take caution. 

  • Avoid the Holiday Toxins
  • Not all food is for your dog. Many of such food will be available at your place in abundance during the holiday season. There some food such as grapes, chocolate, and raisins that are completely toxic to your dog. You should also make sure that you are keeping alcohol, nicotine, and coffee away from your dog. 

    But since it is time for festivities, do pamper your dog with their favorite treats once in a while. 

    You need to be mindful when offering leftover meals to your dog, fatty food can be harmful to your dog

  • Don’t Leave Your Dog with Someone You Don’t Rely Upon Fully
  • You cannot leave your dog with just anyone. You need to make sure the one whom you are giving the responsibility to look after your dog is reliable. Or else you can hire someone to feed and stay with your dog, to take care of all his needs. 

    If you feel too many guests at your place will overwhelm your dog, you can leave them to a trusted daycare. Research the daycare and make sure your dog is fully vaccinated. You can also hire a pet sitter for your dog. It may cost you some extra bucks but you will be at your peace of mind. But, make sure your dog is friendly with the pet sitter.

    The change in the routine of our lives brings unavoidable changes to the dog's daily life as well. In such a situation it is very obvious they go through some stress, not being able to cope up with the sudden change. 

    But, these tips will surely be helpful. Make this holiday season enjoyable and carefree for your dog and yourself.

    -Article by: John Woods, contributor