We all feel a bit out of sorts during the holiday season, don’t we? So many obligations, an increased amount of time in stores (and in line), and always going to homes filled with dozens of people – it’s easy to get a bit stressed out. But if you think you’re stressed out, just take a look at your dog. Dogs will often times become extremely stressed out and anxious during the holiday season. And when your dog gets stressed out, all bets are off on how he’ll act. An anxious dog might tear down a tree, chew on some ornaments, unwrap every gift, finish off the turkey, shatter some glassware, knock down Aunt Betty, mistake Dad’s leg for a female dog and Uncle Harry’s coat for a fire hydrant, and much, much more.
Does that sound like a good time to you? If not, then here are some tips on how to keep your dog from ruining your Christmas.
1. Keep his routine, as much as possible – Dogs (and people) are creatures of habit. So when that habit is broken, dogs feel a bit unbalanced. Having a constant flow of guests in your home, or going to people’s homes, could be enough to set your dog off. The best way to keep your dog settled is to either maintain his routine as much as possible, or keep him from being exposed to too many changes. How do you do that? If you feed him at certain times, continue to do so. If you know guests are coming over, take him out for a walk first – to calm him down – then keep him in a room or crate where the guests won’t be. This will keep him from getting overstimulated, but be sure to give him some toys to play with while he’s in there.
2. Monitor his food – Folks love to pick at food all day long during the holidays. And you might not realize it, but for every toothpick of cheese they munch on, they’re giving your dog one as well. Not only is it dangerous to feed dogs human food without the dog owner knowing, but it can also make him act crazy. Too much sugar will set him off, but so will an unsettled stomach. Dogs who are vigilant with their potty training might be suffering a bout of diarrhea but are doing their best to hold it in while indoors. Instead they’ll come to you, whining and pulling at your shirt. You’ll think they’re being annoying and brush them off. They’ll do anything not to go to the bathroom indoors so, to take their mind off the pain, they get to chewing … anything. Keep your dog on the same diet he had before the holidays. That’s your best bet.
3. The Christmas tree – It’s strange, isn’t it, that your dog doesn’t go outside and pull down trees with all his might. But as soon as a tree comes indoors, it’s game time. Of course all those ornaments aren’t helping. Here’s a tip to keep your tree from getting toppled over: place a hook in your ceiling, and connect the top of your tree to the hook. Voila, your tree is saved. It also helps to keep your ornaments out of reach of your dog, so he’s less tempted to go after your tree.
4. The hazards – There are a number of hazardous holiday-related items you should be made aware of that are bad for your dog. Nothing ruins Christmas faster than a trip to the vet. These include mistletoe, holly, poinsettias and even Christmas tree water (if you put aspirin or fertilizer in the water). Keep your dog far from any of these as much as possible.
5. Your meals – A whiny, in your face dog is a great way to ruin Christmas. So is a dog who steals the entire meal right from under you. Keep your snacks and other meals away from low tables or counters, as well as away from edges. If possible, keep your dog in another room during mealtime, so that everyone can enjoy the food without a dog in their face. Then, when your meal is over, you can invite your dog in to feed him his holiday feast. That way everyone wins this holiday season.