If your dog--who's usually quick to cuddle and always up for fetch--suddenly seems down in the dumps, the upcoming holiday could be to blame. Dogs suffer from holiday stress just like humans, and the most wonderful time of year is usually the most distressing time to be a dog.
First comes the giant stick the humans bring into the house. But unlike most sticks, this one is definitely not for chewing. It's full of shiny baubles and flashing lights that are anything but soothing. And unlike every other tree, marking the Christmas tree as doggy territory is a big no-no.
In the kitchen, there's the temptation of treats and table scraps that can be smelled but never eaten. Then there's the random comings and goings by people who usually have a set schedule and the arrival of strangers who vary in terms of "friendly" but are apparently family members. Add it all together, and you've got yourself a very confused and stressed-out pup.
When your pup loses their jolly personality, it's up to you to bring them back from the brink. Put down the shopping list and follow these tips to help your pup feel better about the holiday season.
Letting out energy can help muffle all the stressed-out confusion bubbling up inside your dog. Take time out of every day to take your pup on a brisk walk. It doesn't matter if there's rain, sleet, or snow, grab your galoshes and hit the sidewalk.
Your pup needs time to escape the chaos that's happening inside the house.
Dogs thrive with routines. They don't like surprises or spontaneity. If your dog is used to being let outside every morning, eating at a specific time, exercising for a certain number of minutes, taking a nap, and going to bed at the same time every night, don't mess up their schedule.
Do your best to keep their life as normal as possible. Stability will help them keep their footing when everything else is out of their control.
A dog's best comfort comes from the people they love most. Simply being around their owners can help them feel better. Your dog will be reassured by your presence and feel safest with you nearby.
Try to end every day with a calming snuggle session. No matter how crazy the daylight hours were, a nighttime cuddle will settle their mind and help them prepare for tomorrow.
If you're inviting relatives to stay with you, remember your dog also has a right to the house. He can't dispute your decision to allow guests into the home, but he doesn't deserve to feel uncomfortable in what's supposed to be his safe place.
If your dog is timid, tell your guests to respect his space. Make it clear to children the dog is not a plaything, and stand up for him when family breaches his comfort zone.
There are few dog problems that can't be solved (at least partially) with a tasty treat. Show your pup how much you care by whipping up dog-friendly holiday desserts.
Try a new treat recipe or splurge on a store-bought snack. Dogs always feel better with a full stomach.
The busy holiday season might not be your dog's favorite time of year, but you can help it be a little less stressful. Fill their stocking with new favorite toys, and maybe next year they'll remember what happens after all the cookies are baked and presents wrapped. If they continue to show symptoms of the seasonal blues, be patient and understanding to help them through the holiday celebrations.
Does your dog get stressed during the holidays? How do you help your dog's stress level? Let us know in the comments.
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