Do Dogs Get Stressed at Christmas?
Many people find that the holiday season is a crazy and stressful time. From family gatherings and work Christmas parties to holiday shopping and entertaining – it feels like we’re always on the go. But what about our dogs? Do dogs get stressed at Christmas?
You may be surprised to hear that many dogs do! According to research from The Kennel Club, approximately 2/5 of dog owners notice a change in their dog’s behavior at this time of year.
Even if your dog stays at home and doesn’t go out to experience all the holiday insanity, there are still many changes that they are going to experience. Look around your home in the days and weeks leading up to Christmas. There are new sights, sounds, and smells at every turn. It’s a lot of change to adapt to.
Your home is the one place your dog feels safe and familiar. Suddenly, in a very short window of time, this “safe place” is transformed. Holiday decorations are usually anything but subtle. They incorporate bright colors, lights, movements, and sound. Plus, you may move furniture to make room for Christmas trees and other items.
One way to reduce your dog’s holiday stress is to be mindful when decorating. Choose decorations that are a little less overwhelming or over the top. For example, most dogs can adjust to a regular string of lights a lot easier than a string of lights that flashes to music. Make sure your dog has a quiet place to retreat to such as a crate or a bedroom, especially if you are going to be hosting a holiday party.
Change in Routine
There are many ways that your usual routine may change during the holidays. Dogs thrive off routine and structure. Just look at how quickly your dog will remind you if you’re running late feeding them dinner or taking them on their morning walk. During the holidays, our schedules often get turned upside down. Try to stick to your regular schedule as much as you can between the holiday travels and festive parties.
Friends and Family
One of the best parts of the holiday season is spending time with friends and family. While many dogs will get excited to see these loved ones, hosting a party can also be stressful for them. Holiday festivities not only mean more people coming and going in their home, but it also means a lot more noise and activity.
Some dogs are more sensitive to this excitement than others. If you know that your dog is nervous around new people, you may want to keep them safely contained in a quiet room somewhere during any holiday functions. Turn on a television or radio to offer some comforting noise and keep them distracted from everything else that is going on in the home. Make sure to check in regularly.
One of the best things you can do for your dog is to keep your own stress level in check. Studies show your dog not only detects your emotions, but that your emotions may directly influence your dog. This includes stress and anxiety. If you are overly stressed during the holidays, there is a higher chance that your dog is also going to experience stress.
Britt Kascjak is a proud pet mom, sharing her heart (and her home) with her “pack” which includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx. She has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. In her free time, she enjoys traveling around the country camping, hiking, and canoeing with her pets.
More by Britt