Did you put up your holiday decorations yet? Some folks have their tree and outdoor lights up before the Thanksgiving turkey comes out of the oven; others prefer to wait until later in the season.
With all the holiday preparations you're making … shopping, wrapping presents, planning holiday meals, getting the house ready for guests or perhaps packing and preparing to leave for a holiday trip… you may be a little more than stressed.
Did you know your dog can pick up on that and be stressed out himself?
Any change in your dog's routine can cause stress. And when your dog is stressed, he may misbehave, including destroying things around the house or chewing up shoes or furniture. He could hurt himself, such as biting or scratching excessively. He might bark a lot or make “messes” while you are gone or act frantically when you return home.
This is your dog's way of telling you he's not getting enough social interaction with you and he's under a lot of stress. Preparing your dog for the holidays can greatly reduce his stress at this time of year.
Here are some simple yet highly-effective ways to help your dog chill out during the holidays:
First, keep your dog's feeding and exercise routine the same throughout the holidays. If you are going away or can't take care of your dog at the usual times, designate a family member or neighbor or hire a pet sitter to provide meals or walks at the usual times.
When your family is busy with preparations or you‘re throwing a party, put your dog in a quiet room with plenty of water, a soft comfy bed and a favorite toy or treat.
If you're having guests over, work on your dog's greeting manners to save the stress of being constantly corrected. Have a friend or family member knock on the door while you practice sitting and staying with your dog. Give your pet plenty of attention and extra activity before your guests arrive. Be sure to remind your guests not to give your dog any treats or table scraps.
A-lot of Alaskans go away for a holiday vacation, it's important to teach your dog that your departure is not a sign of bad things. Get your dog used to the idea of your being gone. The more that they witness you leaving and coming back, the less shocking the departure will be. Pretend that you're going to leave, but then come right back. Repeat this several times, rewarding your dog when he remains quiet and calm.
Doing this will help your dog learn to stay relaxed when he sees that you're leaving... since he never knows when you're actually leaving! After a while, this relaxed way of dealing with your leaving will become the norm for your dog.
When you do leave, be sure to remain calm yourself. Try giving him a special toy that will occupy his mind. Casually tell your dog goodbye and leave without a lot of fuss. If you don't treat leaving like a big deal, neither will your dog.
To help your dog de-stress even more, an all-natural, dog-safe, natural compound, such as Comfort Zone, can be a huge help. These products uses pheromones to make your dog feel at ease and more comfortable. These pheromones are chemically identical to the ones that mother dogs use to calm their young. When your dog or puppy detects the pheromone, he feels secure and comfortable, reducing his fear reactions and his urge to act out destructively through chewing, excessive barking or house soiling.
Make sure your dog has a place of his own to relax and get away from all the holiday hustle. An open door kennel, bedroom or a sheltered place outdoors would let him make the decision whether he wants to join your holiday party.
Your dogs love you just as much as you love them, if not more! Make this a non stressful holiday season for every member of your family and enjoy the time together.