Ah, the holidays. A time for joy, laughter, and… a stressed-out dog? Not this year.
So, why does my dog get anxious when I have guests over? Well, dogs are creatures of habit. They thrive on familiarity. When new people enter into their turf, some dogs get the jitters, leading to anxiety.
Let's dive into some tips to keep your doggo calm while entertaining holiday guests.
Understanding Dog Distress
First, let's understand why our doggies feel out of sorts during holiday celebrations. Dogs, much like us humans, love their routines and usual surroundings. So, strange faces can throw them off and cause stress. For many dogs, the holidays are a time of unfamiliarity that pressures them to behave in a certain way.
A Haven for Your Hound
One of the best ways to help your dog feel cozy is by making a safe space. This refuge could be a quiet room or a corner with their favorite toys and a comfy bed. It's their haven away from the fuss. Let your guests know that this area is off-limits.
Puppy Prep 101
Early training plays a role in preparing your dog for such cases. Exposing pups (3-16 weeks old) to different people prepares for new experiences. Puppies who encounter socialization in this period show less stress as adults. Think of it as building social skills.
Regular activity and mental stimulation help keep your dog cool-headed. Exercise frees endorphins and dopamine in the brain that have calming, mood-boosting effects. Food puzzle toys provide mental stimulus as dogs figure out how to move parts and release kibble. They'll be less likely to beg for scraps or grow restless.
So, how about a game of fetch before the guests arrive? Or a puzzle toy filled with treats?
Meet and Greet
When showing your dog to guests, slow and steady wins the race. Allow your dog to approach guests at their own pace. Letting your dog take the lead in greetings prevents them from feeling forced into exchanges. And make sure your guests know how to interact with your dog respectfully.
Calming aids, like chews or diffusers, can mellow out your hyper-hound.
Diffusers allow the calming pheromones to permeate the air in your home. Choose pet-safe oils and use low concentrations. Always check your dog's behavior and take note if they show signs of discomfort.
Chews and treats provide a more acute calm for events with holiday guests. Chewing releases endorphins that allow dogs to naturally self-soothe anxiety. The licking and tasting provide sensory stimulation that shifts their focus off stressors.
Silencing the Storm
Loud noises and sudden actions can be spurs for stress. You know dogs -- they pick up noises humans don't notice. Guests yelling and kids running can be overwhelming. Try to manage noise levels and remove these triggers as much as possible. And if your dog does get startled, a gentle reassurance goes a long way.
Watch for stressors in your dog. Look out for extreme panting, pacing, or hiding. Panting is a stress indicator and coping mechanism. Pacing signals psychological distress. Hiding is an avoidance response. If you see these behaviors, help your dog calm down.
Consistency is Key
Despite the holiday chaos, try to maintain your dog's routine as much as possible. Patterns provide harmony for your dog.
Sticking to regular feeding times prevents digestive issues from stress and schedule changes. Keeping exercise habits gives dogs normalcy amid the hubbub. Aim for the same duration and timing of walks. Keeping the bedtime schedule constant lets dogs unwind despite shifting human plans.
Lastly, engage your guests in positive interactions with your dog. This exchange could be as simple as throwing a ball or giving a treat. Good times with guests is your dog's ticket to relaxation.
With these tips, you're heading to a calm and festive season for your doggo. Remember, every dog is unique, so adapt these tips to suit your canine's nature and needs.
Happy Pawlidays! 🐾