The holiday season is a combination of anticipation, joy, busyness, and stress. While your dog doesn’t understand the first three, he/she feels the last one. So how can you reduce your dog’s holiday stress?
Keep your schedule
Dogs love schedules. Most dog owners would swear their dogs can actually tell time. They know when meal time is, they know when you go to work, they know when you’re supposed to get home.
To keep things as “normal” as possible, try to keep to your regular schedule. At the very least, try to keep meals close to their regular times. If there’s one thing your dog can depend on, it should be a regular feeding schedule.
Not welcoming hosts
Many dogs aren’t comfortable with new and/or unfamiliar people in their homes. If you’re planning a gathering with people who aren’t regulars at your house, it can be stressful for your dog.
But there’s no reason your dog has to be a guest at the party. It’s not his/her job to be a gracious host. And if you confine your dog away from the action, with a new chew toy to occupy him/her, it will be easier for everyone. You won’t have to worry about keeping an eye on your dog. And your dog won’t worry about protecting his/her property.
And you’ll also avoid having to “police” your dog’s interactions with your guests. It’s not only dogs who can misbehave. We’ve heard nightmare stories of guests slipping treats to dogs, unaware that things like chocolate, grapes, and even bones, can be dangerous for dogs. Even well-meaning guests can succumb to those imploring, puppy dog eyes.
Make it easy on yourself
Some people think their celebrations aren’t complete unless their dogs are part of them. For easy-going dogs who adapt easily to hustle and bustle, that’s fine. But most dogs, especially since the pandemic hit, aren’t the social butterflies they may have been in other circumstances.
It’s totally okay to keep your family/friend occasions as “people only!” Your pets will be happier if they get a little party all to themselves. Just their families and them.
Don’t feel guilty
You don’t have to feel guilty about not including your dog. For most dogs, they’ll be safer and happier if they’re crated, away from the party, with a yogurt-and-peanut-butter frozen stuffed toy. In the long run, it will make everyone’s life easier, and ease your dog’s holiday stress.