We don’t need to tell you how stressful the holidays can be because you know. Moreover, you probably have some fantastic stress-saving hacks that help you get through the season (step one: wine) and have already put plans into motion that will ensure this is the most copacetic holiday season yet!
But what about your dog? Santa’s Little Helper himself.
No matter how many years you host your annual Jingle Mingle, he is shocked when other humans enter the home, not to mention he still doesn’t quite trust those suspicious icicle lights. Just like you, he suffers from Holiday Stress Syndrome (HSS) and needs a little help when it comes to planning and stress management. Here are some proven tips for keeping you dog’s anxiety at bay during the holidays.
- Before turning your home into Santa’s workshop, place decorations out on the floor for him to sniff and view close-up.
- If loud noises like hammering are a source of anxiety for your dog invest in Command Hooks to hang lights and decorations, which are silent to use and remove, and come in a variety of sizes.
- Make sure he has a place in the home free of any holiday light pollution that might disrupt sleeping.
- And, of course, always follow the holiday safety tips put out by the AVMA and other organizations to avoid the added stress of injuries and vet visits.
- Using natural essential oils in the home can be a delicious way to soothe your dog. Scents such as lavender, chamomile and jasmine all relieve tension and can come in forms of candles, diffusers or even brush sprays to surround your dog in tranquil scents.
- Give your dog treats and supplements that include functional ingredients like valerian root and tryptophan that naturally induce calm.
Activity & Routine - No Excuses!
- We know it’s cold outside, so if a walk is out of the question, in-home activities and games are perfectly acceptable alternatives. A happy dog is an engaged dog, so make time to bond with him, and get him moving and thinking every single day!
- Don’t allow a busy holiday season to divert you from maintaining a routine that keeps your dog’s schedule for bathroom breaks, meals and exercise consistent. Routines let dogs know what to expect and can help reduce anxiety related to the unknown.
- Create a space in a quite room of your home that is for your dog only. Free of noise, other pets and humans big and small, this space will be his haven to escape to when he finds himself in a stressful situation.
- Be sure not to disturb or remove your dog from his haven. (Even if he’s not being social during the Jingle Mingle.) Let him decide when to come and go. Keeping this a safe space will help reduce anxiety as he knows he always has a place to which he can escape.
While anxiety is a natural part of life, especially during the holiday season, planning and being mindful of behaviors will help keep HSS to a minimum this November and December - for both you and your dog. Most importantly, celebrate the season by bonding with and appreciating your dog and all the ways he makes your life better.