Dogs are extremely sensitive animals that sometimes react to change with anxiety. The holidays can be extremely difficult for dogs, and they may feel left behind. Although nonstop parties, travel and household decorating changes can result in unwanted behaviors, you can reduce pet stress with a few effective tips.
While your dog is part of your life, remember that you, as pack leader, are his whole life. It’s only natural that he’ll feel anxious when you leave.
Reduce separation anxiety by taking your dog for a long, brisk walk before you leave. Don’t make a fuss when you leave or return, and behave confidently when you do. Your dog thinks of you as his leader, so make leaving and returning a matter-of-fact affair in your everyday interactions.
Persistent licking is a sign that your dog may feel anxious. If your dog has already visited your veterinarian to rule out any health issues, you can try giving your dog extra exercise or other playtime activities.
Long walks, games of fetch or hide-and-seek in the yard, and learning new tricks are all great ways to distract and engage your dog. Never reward your dog with a treat or give him attention when he is licking, as that will only reinforce the behavior you want to stop.
If your dog has stopped eating, playing with toys and enjoying the activities you once engaged in together, he may be depressed. Bring him to the veterinarian for a full checkup so you can rule out any serious illness first.
Next, try a new routine. Take a longer walk on a new route, visit a new dog park or off-leash trail, or schedule some extra playtime with another friendly, furry friend. If he exhibits a glimpse of his old, happy self, reward his behavior with a favorite treat.
The perception that every dog loves to ride in the car is simply not true. If your dog suffers from carsickness, you are probably dreading any upcoming holiday trips to visit family and friends.
First, reduce vomiting problems by limiting food intake before long car trips. Dog expert Cesar Millan recommends small, sugary, non-chocolate candies for nausea reduction. Also, keep your dog facing forward — a trick that works for humans, too.
If you can get your dog to associate your car with happy events, you might find your trip passes by without anxiety. Start by retraining him. Open the car door, and with the engine off, help him inside. Give him a treat if he stays inside the vehicle without licking, shaking or demonstrating other signs of anxiety.
Once your dog grows accustomed to sitting in the car without stress, try taking him in the car to a place he associates with pleasure, such as the beach or the dog park. Begin with short trips and gradually progress to longer ones.
Make Use of the Crate
If you plan to visit family during the holidays and want to bring your dog, crate training can help him stay calm during your visit. Ideally, you have already crate-trained your dog, but if you haven’t, don’t give up hope. Crate training an adult dog is possible with patience and perseverance.
Holiday Stress for Dogs
Does your dog get stressed when you’re away or busy during the holidays? Tell us about it in the comments below! If you’ve got some of your own tips for de-stressing dogs, visit us on Facebook and share them with us.
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