The holidays are a time of great joy and celebration with parties, dinners, and get-togethers, but for our four-legged family members it can be a time of high stress. Whether you’ll be hosting at home or packing up your dog and the family for a trip to visit friends and family know how you’ll help keep your pup calm and comfortable so everyone can enjoy the holidays.
Spending the holidays away
If you’ll be spending the holidays away from your dog make sure to plan ahead for your pooch. Whether you’re going to bring your pup along or have to leave him behind make sure you have a plan.
Traveling with your dog
If you are planning on traveling and bringing your dog along remember that leaving the familiarity of home can cause anxiety in both you and your pup. Make sure to help your dog feel comfortable no matter where he is by packing his favorite toys, bed, blankets, treats, and his regular food. If your dog is crate trained and sleeps and/or enjoys spending time in it then make sure to bring it along so your pup can retreat to a safe place. Familiar and favorite items can help your pooch settle in and relax.
It is also advised that if you are traveling by car to keep your dog in a travel safe crate so that your pup isn’t able to move freely about the car. Not only does it keep your dog from getting underfoot or climbing into your lap while driving, but it also prevents them from being thrown from the car or running off should you get into an accident. If you can’t fit a crate in your car consider getting a pet approved seat belt/harness to keep your dog safe and secure.
Lastly, make sure that if you’re traveling with your pet then make sure he has identification tags on at all times and pack an emergency first aid kit for your dog. And don’t forget to take frequent breaks so your dog can go potty and stretch his legs.
Leaving your pup behind
If you can’t bring your pup along plan for their care either at home or at a boarding facility. For those dogs that don’t do well in kennel situations or you are simply concerned about your pup catching kennel cough then having a responsible friend, neighbor or pet sitter stay care for your dog is a viable option. It can cost a bit more than boarding your dog in a standard kennel, but it will give you peace of mind knowing that your dog is comfortable at home in familiar territory.
If you decide to board your dog in a traditional kennel find a facility that can accommodate your dog’s needs. Take a tour of the facility to check out the accommodations. Make sure the facility has caring, certified, and professional staff in addition to webcams so you can check on your dog throughout his stay. Have questions ready to go. Some of the things you may want to know are:
- How many animals are kept together in one space?
- Can you bring your pet’s food to avoid potential tummy issues?
- Will you be able to bring toys and other comfort objects from home?
Spending the holidays at home
If you’ll be the one hosting the holiday get-togethers then make sure you have a plan for your pup, especially since he’ll likely be seeing a lot of unfamiliar faces coming and going from his home. Prepare a safe zone for your dog to retreat to where he feels comfortable. This might be a crate or small corner in a quiet room where his bed, comfort items, and water bowl is. Let your guests know that your dog needs space so that he doesn’t get overwhelmed.
If you think your dog might react poorly to unfamiliar guests and/or children then you might want to consider keeping your pup in a different room or area separated by a baby gate. Play soft, calm music and provide a safe and calm experience by including your dog’s bed, blankets, or other comfort items. You can also give your pup an interactive toy or two, like a Kong, to keep him busy.
And lastly, keep decorations and cords away from dogs that have a tendency to chew on things around the home. Brightly colored ornaments and tinsel can be a tantalizing toy for your dog, but ingesting these items can cause a lot of problems and lead to a costly visit to the vet’s office. Keep all decorations out of reach of your dog, especially in his safe zone.
Stick to a routine
Whether you’ll be traveling with your pet, leaving him with a trusted friend, or hosting parties at home make sure you stick to your dog’s routine. Believe it or not this simple act can help your dog get through the holidays relatively stress-free. Part of keeping the normal routine means feeding your dog at the same time(s) and taking walks or exercising at the usual times. It can be helpful to set alarms on your phone to remind you of the daily routine. And don’t forget to dole out the affection and play time so your pup doesn’t feel thrown off by all the flurry of activity and unfamiliar faces.
No matter how you are celebrating this holiday season these tips and tricks will help keep your pup as stress-free as possible.