How to make the holidays less stressful for your dog.

Updated on April 16, 2023

Keeping dog safe and stress-free at Christmas

As the year draws to a close, December ushers in a season of joyous festivities best shared with loved ones over shared meals and shared stories. It’s a welcome break from our regular routine, a chance to relax, catch up with friends and family we don’t see very frequently, and stuff our faces with delicious, fatty foods.

The holiday season can be a stressful time for humans and their canine companions alike. It’s likely that you already have an idea of how your dog will react to the holiday season because you know them so well and are aware of their unique behaviours and qualities.

During the holiday season, our dogs are typically subjected to a number of new experiences and variations on their usual routine that they are not used to. Christmas may not be the most delightful time of the year for pets.

So that you and your four-legged companion can relax and enjoy the holiday season together, we’ve compiled all of our best advice for keeping your dog secure and happy over the holiday season.

Visitors

It’s likely that your whole extended family, as well as cousins, neighbours, acquaintances, and coworkers, will pay you a visit during December. While some canine companions may thrive on the attention they receive from a larger crowd, for the more nervous canine citizens of the world, this may be a terrifying situation.

Helping your dog feel calm at Christmas

Even though our dogs don’t have to worry about hosting the party or preparing food or beverages for visitors, many of them still get quite anxious when strangers come around.

Keeping your dog relaxed this holiday season
You should do everything you can to make this situation less stressful for your pet buddy. Creating a den-like spot for your dog where they can go to get away from the chaos around them might be helpful. Just make sure it’s nice and cosy so that your dog enjoys spending time there.

Make sure it’s in a peaceful, isolated room, stock it with of your dog’s favourite things (toys, blankets, and treats), and encourage your dog to spend time there.

When guests arrive, you’ll have to train them, too. Don’t let anybody approach your dog if you know they’re nervous around strangers; instead, let your dog initiate contact if they’re comfortable doing so, or give them space if they’d rather not be bothered at all.

If your dog comes over, offer them a treat and see if they’ll take it from your guest. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you should never coerce your dog into befriending other dogs.

Spread out visits over many days if you can, so your dog isn’t overwhelmed by a large group of strangers all at once. You should also use extreme caution with any young children in the home if your dog exhibits signs of anxiety and aloofness.

If your dog shows no interest in playing with the child, you should not allow the child to interact with the dog unsupervised.

Routine changes

Has your dog ever scolded you for being late to supper, even if you were only late by five minutes? Dogs, after all, thrive on regularity. They are aware of when we rise, when we feed them, when we take them out for walks, and when we tuck them in at night.

For this reason, your dog may find the holiday bustle to be a bit much to handle.

Over the holiday season, most people alter their daily schedules significantly, sleeping in later, not going to work, and spending more time with loved ones than usual. While your dog may appreciate the extra time spent at home with you during Christmas, he or she may be unnerved by the many other variations from the norm.

The greatest way to reduce your dog’s stress is to maintain a schedule as close to normal as you can. Maintain some semblance of normalcy throughout the holidays by keeping your dog on his usual walking, eating, resting, and playing schedule.

Loud noises

We humans have headaches from all the noise (fireworks, Christmas crackers, music, and conversation) over the holidays; we can only image how our dogs feel. The added volume around the holidays may be disconcerting to some dogs, while others may just find it unpleasant that their nap time has been disrupted.

Keeping dog stress-free at Christmas

Dog-friendly holiday preparations
Your dog may experience fear, anxiety, and frustration if exposed to the loud bangs of fireworks on New Year’s Eve or the crackles of Christmas crackers at the dinner table. You might try desensitising your dog to the sound of fireworks well in advance to help calm his or her fears.

Play audio samples of fireworks at a low enough level so your dog doesn’t respond, then gradually increase the volume while rewarding him with food. You may read more about how to assist your dog deal with the stress of fireworks here on our blog.

Help your dog out tremendously by playing soothing music, providing a secure place for him to go, and being on hand to provide comfort whenever he needs it at Christmas.

Christmas tree

One of the most exciting parts of the holiday season is putting up the Christmas tree, but your dog may look at it and wonder what on earth it is. We can’t say that we blame them for being confused or even scared by the sight of a Christmas tree; after all, it is a large, unfamiliar object that has suddenly materialised in their home, complete with unfamiliar ornaments and blinking lights.

Your dog may be legitimately terrified of the Christmas tree if it is barking, snarling, or avoiding it altogether. To aid in this process, consider tossing treats in the general area of the decorations.

Dog safety at Christmas

If you have a lot of decorations for the house, it might be helpful to spread them around over time so that your dog can become used to them at his own pace.

Your dog will be lot happier if you don’t move the furniture around to make room for a tree, but instead leave everything exactly where it is.

Your dog may get mischievous after getting over his or her first fear of the Christmas tree. Be wary of them pawing at your ornaments and stealing them from the tree.

Canine holiday protection
Your dog may really damage itself if they tried to eat any of the Christmas decorations since they are so fragile, especially the glass ones. Pieces of broken jewellery can become lodged in the digestive tract or cause internal bleeding and tearing if swallowed.

If your presents are destined for under the tree, you should forego the use of tinsel and other ornamental trimmings like ribbons, bows, and string. Your dog may be tempted by the pile of presents under the tree, but he shouldn’t be allowed to do so for his own safety or the gifts’. If your dog eats any of the ribbons or other decorations, they could become entangled in his digestive tract or other internal organs, causing serious injury or death.

Also, if your dog decides to investigate your Christmas lights, keep an eye on the wires to prevent any potential disasters.

Keep an eye out for the sharp needles that fall from a real Christmas tree. Your dog might get wounded or cut if it swallows one of these needles, therefore it’s important to pick them up often. You should also keep your dog away from the tree stand water since the chemicals used to protect the tree might be harmful to animals.

Overall, you should just keep an eye out with your dog and the tree as there are a variety of possible risks, and you don’t want any ornaments destroyed or presents taken! If everything else fails, you may try erecting a fence around the tree to keep your naughty dog away.

Unwrapping gifts

The morning of Christmas is always a chaotic whirlwind of activity and paper trails. While your dog won’t get sick from eating wrapping paper, he or she may give you a scare if their lips is stained. Your dog might have gastrointestinal distress if it decides to gorge itself on wrapping paper.

Helping dog stay safe at Christmas

Preventing a Christmas emergency for Fido
At Christmas, we open presents like shoes, purses, pricey electronics, and toys, and you may have noticed the little sachets of silica gel included in the packing. If your dog eats any of the many Christmas decorations that are inevitably strewn about the house (and sometimes left on the floor) they may become very ill, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea. And certainly not preferable on Christmas day.

Food

Puppy dog eyes might make you want to give in to your dog’s pleading for a bite of your mince pie, but it’s crucial to resist the urge.

Unfortunately for our canine companions, most of the delicious sweets we enjoy during Christmas are not safe for them and can even be toxic. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all the holiday treats you should avoid giving your dog.

But don’t worry, we’ve also got a list of Christmas dishes your dog can eat so they can celebrate the season with you.

Christmas plants

Ingesting Christmas plants like holly, mistletoe, poinsettia, or ivy can be fatal for dogs.

Stay safe and sound with your dog this holiday season.
Needles from Christmas trees are notoriously sharp and can cause serious injury or even death if ingested.

Have a dog safe Christmas

Keeping these plants either out of the home entirely or completely out of reach from your dog is the best way to prevent them from being devoured by our inquisitive dogs.

More alone time

There’s a lot to do and see around Christmas, but don’t forget to include your dog in the festivities! It’s easy to forget about your dog when you’re having fun, but leaving him or her alone for too long can cause anxiety and even health problems.

It would be fantastic if you could take your dog along on some of these trips. Your dog will need their bed, some of their favourite toys, chews, puzzle games, and interesting feeds to keep them occupied while you’re out with friends.

Keeping your dog relaxed at Christmas

You should take them on a long walk to wear them out before leaving them with a puzzle toy and make sure you can get back to your house after a short period if you’re going somewhere they can’t join in on the fun.

Plan ahead to have someone come over and play with your dog if you have to be gone for a while.

How can I tell if my dog is stressed?

Your dog’s body language will offer you a glimpse into how they’re feeling, so be on the lookout for these indicators of stress and anxiety:

Barking

Panting

Pacing

Using the bathroom inside

Drooling

Restlessness

Hiding

Whining

Enhanced Personal Hygiene

Clinginess

Habits of destruction like chewing

Look for anything out of the ordinary to help you determine the source of your dog’s worry. A time for joy and celebration, not worry and tension, Christmas is a time to be cherished.

Recap

There’s a lot going on around Christmas, and it’s simple to get carried away in the celebrations. Just remember to pause and consider how your dog is doing at this hectic time; after all, they can’t speak out and tell us how they’re feeling, so it’s up to you to figure it out.

You can make the holidays more enjoyable for both you and your dog if you take the time to learn what will make your dog feel the happiest, least anxious, and safest. It’s time to kick back, enjoy yourself, and stuff your face with delicious cuisine.

 

 

 

 

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