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  • Canin Comments- Debra

Don't Mess with Canine Holiday Stress

The holiday season and all its hustle and bustle, excitement and frenzy can make for stressful times for your pups. Of course, it's an individualized thing when it comes to determining your particular dog's reaction and ability to handle the stress. Some dogs may thrive on high energy while others may cower and want to escape. Since you know your dog best you would be the best judge of his behavior. Some clues to look for to determine if your dog is stressed include:

  • Growling = a sign that someone is in their space, they feel threatened, or something hurts; they are feeling uncomfortable

  • Whining/Barking = an automatic response that something is making them anxious

  • Body Language = calming signals include the following: tucked ears and/or tail, raised hackles, lip-licking, yawning, panting, and "whale eye" ( whites of eyes are showing)

  • Freezing = also stiffening is a sign that the dog is shutting down over something stressful they see

  • Pacing = when the dog can't settle down due to something stressing them

So what can you do to help divert your dog or prevent this potentially stressful situation, in the first place? Here are some action steps you can take:

The more you can adapt to your dog's needs the happier the holiday will be for everyone so consider his personality and provide for your dog's needs which may mean crating your dog but make sure you give him something pleasurable inside the crate like a treat or chew toy.

Help your dog form positive associations with the hustle and bustle of the holidays by buying him a toy to unwrap and enjoy!

Predictability and routine will make your dog feel less overwhelmed by all that's going on so make sure to assign someone to be in charge of potty breaks, mealtime, and exercise sessions (throughout the day and especially before company comes over so your dog can get out any extra energy before guests arrive).

Control your dog's behavior by using basic commands like "sit," "stay," and "down,"

as well as "leave it" and "go to your place" if your dog knows them.

If obedience skills are rusty or not working you will need to manage the situation and have a plan to curtail any rude behavior (like begging) and to also not push your dog past his tolerance level. If you need to crate, tether, or put your dog in a separate room to accomplish the above then do so but make the experience rewarding by giving them a special chew toy during that time when they can recharge from the crowd.

Ensure there's nothing dangerous your dog can get into including accessible food, toxic holiday plants at their level, and decorations that they can get into.

{excerpted from the American Kennel Club}


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