Originally published by ArlNow.com

So here it is. The holiday season is upon us, and while the holidays can be full of joy and wonder, they can also be full of stress and anxiety. This is as true for your dog as it is for you.

A lot of things are different in the month of December. Furniture gets moved to make room for a tree. An indoor tree! What must our dogs be thinking? People spend a lot more time away from home both socializing and shopping. Perhaps you have more visitors than normal and perhaps you are just plain stressed out.

If you are like me, most of the month is spent doing a frenzied cleanup before the guests arrive. I think by now my dogs have figured out that December is “deep clean the house month.” Our furry friends pick up on all of this and sometimes it stresses them out too. Here are some things to keep in mind during the holiday craziness that can help your pup tolerate the added stress.

  1. Don’t forget them. It’s easy to get caught up in our to-do lists. Try to make time every single day to do something with your dog. Playing with them is one of the best things you can do. Not only does it burn off some energy, it’s a time to bond and to reassure the dog that the changes are superficial. Things are still alright. Make time for your normally scheduled walk or playtime to help keep them anchored amidst the chaos.
  2. Think hard before you travel with your dog. Unless you are heading to a location that the dog has been to many times before, this may not be the right time to take Fido on a road trip. Having guests can be tough enough, but guests with a dog can be much harder. You may find that you spend so much time making sure your dog is a good guest that you are unable to relax and enjoy your visit. Finally, would it be better for your dog to be home with a trusted pet sitter or at the dog daycare they attend regularly? Sometimes leaving your dog out of the chaos is actually the kinder thing to do.
  3. Similar rules apply if you are staying home and having guests visit you. Make extra time to get your dogs exercised early in the morning or late in the evening so that if you need to put them away in their crate for some time during the day, you can. Dogs who are properly crate-trained should have no problem hanging out in the back room with a nice marrow bone during the chaos. A long walk in the middle of the day is the perfect “excuse” for both you and your dog to take a break from the festivities and have some downtime together.
  4. Most importantly, do not force your dog to interact with people if he/she doesn’t want to. Forcing dogs to deal with  uncomfortable situations often leads to growling and snapping, and no one wants a dog bite to ruin their holidays.

So make sure to take into consideration what the dog thinks about your holiday plans. Having a dog in our lives all year round is one the best gifts we have.

Happy Holidays!