Updated: Dec 11, 2021
The holiday season is a joyous yet chaotic time of year for us as well as for our dogs. We enjoy sharing food, spreading good cheer & seeing homes transformed. We rearrange furniture, add decorations, do extra cleaning, burn candles & add other holiday smells.
From our dog’s perspective these sights, sounds and smells can be disturbing. The extra home deliveries, strangers and distant relatives can be greeted with mixed responses by our dogs (truthfully from us as well). It is no surprise that these changes create the annual uptick in potty accidents, counter-surfing, jumping, hiding, barking, growling and destructiveness that I get calls about during this time of year.
The best thing we as pet owners can do is prepare our dogs for the holidays and help them learn the skills to be well adjusted and successful when the chaos comes. Here are the TOP TRAINING AND MANAGEMENT TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON.
Help your dog stay happy and healthy during the holidays by maintaining their exercise, eating, potty, playtime and training schedules. Consider a dog sitter or dog walker or enroll your pup in doggy daycare to keep them active when you are too busy to burn off their excess energy. For some dog’s a few quick training sessions during the day will challenge and tire out your dog. If you take a bit of time to reinforce good behaviors, they will come in handy when guests arrive.
Know your situation, a dog that barks but then settles easily requires very different training and management strategies than a dog that shows clear discomfort, fear, or aggression around strangers. If your dog responds to new people by slinking away to hide under a bed, or by lunging and barking you may want to investigate ways to get your dog out of the house altogether. Some people enlist the help of a friend or a family member or board the dog at a vet’s office or kennel. If your dog is stressed when left alone, a pet sitter can be hired to provide comfort, and to ensure that the dog gets undivided attention while the hosts are busy.
The holidays are a good time to manage a dog from getting into trouble or injuring himself. Creating a “Quiet Place” can be your answer. This is something we do well before our guests are due to arrive so that it is already a familiar habit to our dogs and although we don’t really like to restrict our dog’s movement about their home using ex-pens, gates and crates can be extremely valuable.
Most dogs thrive with a place of their own to relax and rest! Using a quiet spare room, a dog bed or even baby gates to allow your pup to decompress and relax with their favorite blanket, toys, bones, and water before the holiday hits will enable the dog to know what to do when things become chaotic. I make these spaces do not disturb areas so that when a pup is over stimulated or had enough, he can choose to get away and know that he will be left alone.
Sound - Adding white noise, classical music, DOG-TV or YouTube dog music can add a great sound buffer.
Enrichment toys- or long-lasting chews are a great distraction that can help a pup self soothe and to get tuckered out. There are so many enrichment toys on the market today that are great for all different ages, breeds, abilities and preferences. If you need suggestions message me. Here is a great mat to feed your pup in a more natural way.
Supplements- I recommend calming a dog with a Nutraceuticals Calming Paste, therapeutic grade essential oils & compression clothing before resorting to toxic pharmaceuticals.
If you are traveling with your dog, teaching the place command before taking your dog away from the home for the holiday is a great way for your dog to know what is expected of him in an unfamiliar environment. Being able to cue your dog to go to place is extremely useful. A dog on a place is not able to steal food off the counters, beg or greet people that don’t want dog hair or drool on their holiday’s finest attire. Click here for additional travel tips.