Today’s guest writer is Robbi Hess, Story Editor at Positively Woof. Robbi is sharing tips to keep your dog safe, happy and calm during the holidays. 

Holidays and family gatherings are fun and exciting — for the humans, but not always so much for the furry members of the family. Let’s face it, not all dogs love to be surrounded by new sights, sounds, smells, and by people who are strangers to them. You may love having your house full of family from near and far, but your dog may feel only stress and anxiety.

What can you do to assure you and your family enjoy yourselves, and that your dog is relaxed enough to enjoy the holidays with your friends and family? With a little planning, even a dog who isn’t comfortable in loud, unfamiliar settings or situations just might curl up on the couch or under the tree and enjoy the festivities from a safe distance! Just remember, a large and rowdy party is not the time to force your dog to interact and socialize if she hasn’t done so before.

Keeping Your Dogs Safe, Happy And Calm During The Holidays

As pet parents we know what situations our dogs are most comfortable in, what situations should be avoided, and how to notice the signs and alleviate stress in your beloved fur-baby. If you’re like most pet parents you are in tune enough with your dog that you can sense her anxiety and you won’t force her into a situation that will only heighten that.

Pet parents have technology and holistic measures to calm a stressed out dog and here are our favorite ways to make the holidays fun for everyone!  

Know your dog’s tolerance level. Your pooch might LOVE to be around all of your guests… up to a point. When he reaches that point, he wants to find a place to retreat and watch the fun from afar. Ask any introvert and he or she will tell you, the struggle is real. You want to see the guests, but eventually you need a break. Dogs are the same way.

Keep a watchful eye on your pet and look for the signs of stress on his face, in his eyes, and in his body language. When you notice that, it’s time to give your dog a time out. The “time out” is not a punishment, it is a way to let him catch his breath and simply relax.

Let your guests know how your dog likes to be touched. Not all dogs like to be pet on the head. Not all dogs like to have their paws touched or their bellies rubbed. If your dog loves to have the fur between his shoulder blades scratched or his cheeks rubbed softly, let your guests know.

If your dog is not accustomed to young children make sure an adult supervises all interactions between the child and the dog. No one wants a child to get bitten simply because the child didn’t know how to pet or interact with the dog or because the dog is not accustomed to a tiny human being face-level with him.

Move your dog’s toy box, bed and food and water bowls. Before your guests arrive, get her accustomed to the new arrangement for her food, bed and toys. Feed him in an out of the way place so he’s not right in the middle of guest foot traffic. He may never resource-guard his food, because you’re his family, but he may growl if a stranger is near his food or water.

Give your dog his own corner where he can retreat. If he loves his crate and his crate is usually in the middle of the family action, move it to an out-of-the-way location during the holidays. This will allow him to a place to retreat to a silent area that is his and his alone. Also, you don’t want to have him in his crate and have a curious child decide to climb in and join him.

Holistic measures like calming collars that provide scents such as lavender to relax your pet or sprays you can spritz onto your dog’s bedding or by his crate, may alleviate some of her anxiety. Some pet parents swear by CBD treats or essential oils as a way to deal with their dog’s stress, but we always recommend checking with your personal veterinarian before you use anything that your dog will ingest.

Set your dog up with technology to calm her nerves. DOGTV, played on a tablet, laptop, or streaming on your television is a scientifically-proven and designed way to provide your dog with programming designed to relieve stress and enrich his environment. Canine enrichment encompasses your dog’s entire environment — his bed, his home and the sounds and sights he is exposed to.

If you are moving your dog away from the guests and into a quieter space, turning on DOGTV programming will give him something to focus on. The programming will help him unwind and enjoy his time alone while you’re enjoying time with your friends and family knowing your pup is happy and calm (and probably sleeping with his head on your pillow!)  

After the the party is over and the guests have departed, put your dog’s items back in their usual space… until the next family get-together!  

Still looking for a last-minute gift for that dog lover on your shopping list? Sign up for a subscription of DOGTV — the gift that keeps on giving and the gift that enriches the lives of the dogs of the recipient. Sign up today and give the gift tomorrow!