Whenever the holiday season comes along, most of our thoughts begin to revolve around family, friends, and good food. While this time of the year has special meaning to us, we often forget that our dogs do not understand it.
All of a sudden, you’re not around as much as you used to be and your pet is spending more time alone. You may be doing some last minute shopping or running some errands, but all your dog knows is that he is being left behind. For an animal that’s used to following a certain routine, this can be a very stressful period. By being aware of your dog’s feelings, you can make the holiday season a more pleasant time for him as well.
You can ease your canine companion’s stress and anxiety during the holidays by doing some simple things:
* Leave a light and the TV on when you are away. These sights and sounds can help reduce your pet’s anxiety since he is familiar with them, unlike a dark and empty house.
* Have something special for your dog when you come home, such as a treat or a piece of beef jerky. After a couple of times of doing this, he will look forward to your return whenever you leave the house. You don’t have to do this throughout the year, just during the holidays when his routine becomes irregular.
* Having plenty of guests over can be very stressful for your dog. Even if your family and friends have visited before a few times, they are still strangers to your pet. Let your guests know that your dog will want to sniff their pant legs as this is his way of communicating and meeting new people.
* Encourage your guests to let your dog sniff them for a moment when they first arrive and ask them to pat him on the head before they come in. These gestures will tell your dog that these people are also his friends.
* Canines are very social creatures so include him in the festivities as much as possible. You don’t have to fix him a special platter – just feed him like you would on a normal day, but let him eat at the same time as you and your guests. You can include a couple pieces of ham or turkey on top of his regular meal. Make sure you don’t give him any leftover bones as these can injure him.
Your dog is an important part of your family, so take the time to make the holidays a fun occasion for him as well, not just for this year but also for the years to follow.