As I sit here with bins of Christmas decorations strewn across the living room, I think for a moment about what this must look and feel like from my dog’s point of view. So (don’t think I’m crazy), I knelt down to his level to take a look at the joint. If I thought that clutter all over my house made me feel unsettled and anxious, I can only imagine how it must feel when my dog can’t see past his bed to the other side of the room. Especially since he is my self-appointed stalker and insists on being able to see me at all times. This has temporarily become a much more difficult task.
If you think about it, it’s not just the house that changes, it’s everyday life and predictable routine that gets uprooted when the holidays hit:
- You and the family are often gone for longer periods of time, or at least gone on days that you normally would be home.
- The decorations (once the bins finally go away) look like dog toys hung with care.
- There is new food out on tables as you begin to entertain.
- If you have kids, the energy of the holidays is amped up with excitement and sugar.
- They are even sometimes boarded during this time, that can be stressful in itself. (Will they come back? They usually do. They might not. Do they remember me?)
The list could go on, but you get the point.
So, what can we do to help our dogs from feeling the need to regress?
- Use crates, leashes, and gates to set your dogs up for success regarding the greeting of guests or behaving around the tree. Not everyone is a party dog, and those guys will appreciate a break in the crate or a bedroom when your house becomes too crazy.
- Use Kongs and chew sticks to keep your pooch appropriately busy during get-togethers or if you have longer stretches of time that you are gone.
- Think about using a dog walker or neighbor to let them out if you know you’ll be gone longer than normal. (They will be happier and you can enjoy yourself more knowing they are taken care of.)
- Keep up your training as much as you can. This especially applies to folks living with puppies, but older dogs will appreciate a quick training session here and there throughout the day.
There have been studies that show how difficult the holiday season can be for people. There’s no reason to believe that wouldn’t also apply to our furry family members. I mean, I’m hyperventilating as I type!
What kind of trouble do your dogs get into over the holidays? …or should I just check out www.dogshaming.com?
Better yet, post your dog shaming photo on our Facebook page!