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Holidays With Anxious Dogs
December 1, 2023

The holiday season has officially begun! The next few weeks may be pretty hectic for many of you, with all of those seasonal events and chores to tackle. That hustle and bustle can become a bit overwhelming for some folks. It’s also a lot for some of our canine pals, particularly those that are very anxious or timid. A local Bellaire, TX vet offers some insight on helping a scaredy-dog navigate the holiday chaos in this article.

Environment

Our four-legged friends are very in tune with their environments, and they can get quite upset when things suddenly start looking very different. A tree and a few lights may not matter too much to Fido, but that giant inflatable snowman in the yard might seem very scary and imposing to him. If you notice that your dog seems to feel scared of or threatened by a particular thing, either take time to help him realize it isn’t a danger or put it somewhere he won’t see it.

Schedule Disruptions

The holidays can throw anyone’s schedule out of whack, but try to keep your pup on as normal a routine as possible. Fido is a creature of habit, and he often just feels more secure when kept on a steady schedule for meals, walks, and playtime.

Guests

Having company? Taking time to clarify a few things before they arrive can help reduce the chances of mishaps. Ask visitors not to feed or discipline your furry buddy. If you’re having little kids over, monitor interactions between them and Fido carefully.

Food/Decor

Fido can’t tell you if he is feeling stressed or upset, and he often resorts to mischief to unleash that pent-up doggy angst. Be careful when decorating your place. Anything small or sharp is a potential hazard, as are stringy or ropy items, such as tinsel and garlands. You’ll also want to make sure you’re only setting out pet-safe plants. Many popular seasonal favorites, such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, and poinsettia, are toxic to pets. Those holiday meals and treats also pose a risk. Some of the dangerous foods include garlic and onions, grapes and raisins, meat on the bone, chocolate, avocado, and anything containing xylitol.

Calming

Making sure that your canine buddy is getting the right amount and type of exercise is also important. Fido will naturally be calmer after he’s burned off his zoomies. Take time to walk and play with your pooch every day. (Tip: new toys make great gifts for Man’s Best Friend!)

Our Advice on Holidays With Anxious Dogs in 2024

Why is maintaining a regular schedule important for dogs during the holiday season?

Maintaining a regular dog schedule during the holiday season is crucial due to their nature as creatures of habit. Dogs thrive on consistency, and a predictable routine gives them a sense of security and stability. The holidays can bring many changes and disruptions—unfamiliar decorations, increased activity, and varied human schedules—which can be stressful for dogs, especially those prone to anxiety. Keeping their feeding, walking, and playtime schedules consistent helps minimize stress, allowing them to feel more relaxed and comfortable amidst the festive chaos. It anchors them to a familiar pattern, reducing potential behavioral issues and maintaining their overall well-being.

What precautions should dog owners take when having guests over, especially with anxious dogs?

Owners should take several precautions when having guests over, especially with anxious dogs. Inform guests beforehand about your dog’s nature and set clear boundaries, such as not feeding the dog or disturbing them in their safe space. Provide a quiet, comfortable area away from the noise and activity where your dog can retreat. Monitor interactions closely, particularly with children, to ensure gentle and respectful behavior. Gradually introduce your dog to guests, if appropriate, to avoid overwhelming them. Additionally, keeping the dog’s routine as normal as possible during gatherings can help reduce their anxiety.

How can interactions between children and anxious dogs be safely managed during holiday gatherings?

Safely managing interactions between children and anxious dogs during holiday gatherings involves supervision and education. Always supervise any interaction between dogs and children, never leaving them alone. Teach children how to approach and interact with the dog gently and respectfully, emphasizing the importance of not startling or crowding the dog. It’s crucial to recognize signs of discomfort or stress in the dog, such as withdrawal, growling, or hiding, and intervene promptly. Providing a safe, quiet space for the dog to retreat if they feel overwhelmed can also help manage their anxiety during such gatherings.

How can new toys contribute to a dog’s well-being during the festive season?

New toys can significantly contribute to a dog’s well-being during the festive season. They provide mental stimulation and help keep the dog engaged, which is especially important if the household is busier than usual. Toys can also be a source of comfort and a distraction from any stress or anxiety caused by changes in routine and environment. For dogs that may feel left out or neglected amidst the holiday activities, toys offer a way to interact and play, ensuring they remain active and happy. Additionally, toys can help maintain a dog’s physical health by promoting exercise and reducing boredom-related destructive behaviors.

What steps can ensure a calm environment for dogs amidst holiday chaos?

To ensure a calm environment for dogs amidst holiday chaos, create a quiet, comfortable space away from noise and activity, like a room with their bed, toys, and water. Maintain their routine, including feeding and exercise times, to provide stability. Use calming aids like pheromone diffusers or soothing music specifically designed for dogs. Limit their exposure to large gatherings and decorations that may cause stress. Provide mental stimulation through toys and puzzles. Finally, give them attention and reassurance to help them feel secure during the festive bustle.

Do you have questions about your pet’s health or care? Contact us, your Bellaire, TX veterinary hospital, today!