4 Calming Tips to Ensure Stress-Free Pets This Holiday Season

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Do your pets go into excitement overdrive during the holidays? Here are a few tips to make sure your dogs and cats enjoy the festive season without getting stressed.

This time of year we’re not the only ones who go into sensory overload with the sights and sounds of the holiday season. Our pets get bombarded with the same Christmas music, affront of twinkling lights and overall hustle and bustle as do we, and for them it’s about as stressful as trying to figure out what to buy your cranky mother-in-law is for you!

So how do you tackle the ho-ho-holiday horrors for your pet before it all begins? Right off the bat you need to understand that most pets don’t do change-to-the-routine very well. He or she may exhibit signs of being over-stressed well in advance of the big day and you need to be able to recognize those signals in order to defuse them.

Related: The Basics About Dog Body Language

Here are four tips that Fido is starting to freak:

  1. He’s shivering and shaking as if he’s cold. When there is no obvious cause it means he’s becoming nervous and anxious about his surroundings or something specific that is happening. Similarly, wide eyes and deliberately avoiding eye contact is a sign that he’s becoming highly stressed.
  2. He takes on an aggressive appearance including spiky fur down his back, growling and snapping. If this is out of character for your pooch or if you notice him pacing/unable to relax, your pet is getting nervous about the situ and you need to identify the cause and respond to what he’s trying to tell you.
  3. He’s exhibiting signs of anxiety by cowering, tail tucking or hiding around the house. We all know these are signs of fear and when this happens its best to not try to coax him out. If the fear continues to escalate he could decide to fight back if you force the issue. Let him come to you.
  4. He is yawning and licking his lips repeatedly and without cause. You know he’s not yawning because he’s tired or chillin’ on his bed so take these as indications he’s getting anxious and feeling uncertain about his surroundings.

What to do with a nervous pooch during the holidays? Here are four tips to help you both through the season:

Related: How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks

  1. Consider a calming aid like the thunder shirt. Typically used to comfort dogs during thunderstorms (hence the name) it fits securely around your pup like a snug t-shirt. The tighter fit helps control breathing to prevent hyper-ventilating and deliver a calming, swaddling effect. Highly effective when donned prior to a stressful event.
  2. Create a Merry-free zone for him. Yes, his own safe space that can be a separate bedroom or a simple crate where he can retreat at will when he’s had enough. It’s important family and friends recognize and respect this zone and leave your little guy alone when he needs a little down time.
  3. Be proactive and identify a room where Rover can automatically be moved to when you know it’s about to get crazy with activity and he will inevitably go ape-shit. Move him there – willing or not – and close the door. This also ensures he won’t be scooting out the front entry as guests come and go. Of course tossing him a treat will take the Scrooginess out of it.
  4. Keep the little kipper busy. Yes a pooped pooch is less likely to stress and when you add to it a couple of his favorite activities – a chew toy and cozy pet bed – he’ll be sufficiently preoccupied that he may not mind the noise and confusion going on around him. Ideally you can provide the toy or activity in his safe zone.
Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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