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How To De-stress Your Dog During the Holidays

Updated on October 11, 2013
Does your dog dread the holidays?
Does your dog dread the holidays? | Source

The holidays are a stressful time for most and your dog is no exception. If you have a holiday activities that change your regular weekly routines, add tasks or add extra people at your home, your pet may feel stress from these events.

There are ways you can prepare you pet for the holidays and minimize the stress and anxiety it feels.


The last three months of the year bring some exciting and fun holidays but they can cause anxiety for your dog.

Halloween has many hidden stressors that you should be aware of.

  • Parties

If you are hosting a Halloween party at your house, realize that the extra, strange people may be a cause of concern for your dog. It may either feel scared and hide or feel protective and aggressive towards the guests.

If possible, put the dog up in a bedroom with the TV or radio going. Leave it's favorite treats, toys and bedding and check on it regularly.

Keeping it away from the noise and bustle may help it to feel less concerned about the guests at your house.

Dressing up your dog may be fun but does it stress it out?
Dressing up your dog may be fun but does it stress it out? | Source
  • Candy

Extra candy around the house is a temptation for your dog. Remember that those tasty treats can be potentially deadly for your dog. At the least it may give it a stomach ache and at the most you may end up with a vet bill.

Keep the candy out of sight. If you do eat candy in front of your dog, offer it a dog-safe treat or alternative instead.

What stresses your dog out the most during Halloween?

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  • Costume

There are two problems for your dog in regards to costumes: others dressing in costume and dressing up your dog.

If you have people in your home dressed in costume, the dog may be startled and not able to recognize family members or friends that are otherwise familiar. If your dog reacts badly when it sees someone in costume, it is best to remove the mask portion if possible and have the dog placed in a calm and enclosed place.

Many people like to dress their dog up in a costume. If you are one of those people, make sure that the dog is not uncomfortable or gets too hot. If your dog shows signs of irritation such as constantly shaking its head to get something off of it or chewing at the costume, you may reconsider dressing him up or pick a costume that won't irritate it as much.

  • Trick-or-Treating

The tradition of families walking around the neighborhood to receive candy from their neighbors is still practiced in many parts of the United States. Some people also like to take their family dog out with them. Whether or not this is a good idea depends on your dog's personality. If your dog gets stressed by large crowds of people, masks or loud noises, it may be happier at home.

It is also important to make sure your dog is secure if you are at home and giving out candy. Even a well-trained dog may run out the door or bark at and threaten trick-or-treaters if it is feeling stressed.

If you are unsure about how your dog will react, have someone leash and hold it when you answer the door to give out candy.

Dog Safety Tips for Halloween

Thanksgiving And Christmas

Thanksgiving and Christmas offers a different set of stressors for an average dog. Besides the extra food which may make your dog sick if it consumes it, there is often strangers and travel.

  • Food

There may be new and tempting treats for your dog to eat and strangers around who will gladly slip it a bite. Since many of the Thanksgiving foods may make your dog sick, it is best to establish a rule that the dog should not be fed unless you supervise the activity. Remember to keep plenty of dog treats around for it so that it can still feel like it is getting something special.

Dogs can get stressed around the holidays because of the change in schedule.
Dogs can get stressed around the holidays because of the change in schedule. | Source
  • Strangers

Just like Halloween, there may be strangers in your home for the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday. In order to not stress your dog, it is important that it doesn't feel overwhelmed with a bunch of people trying to approach it at once.

Either have the dog on a leash or place it in a room away from the company while everyone comes in and gets settled. If your dog is especially high strung it may make sense to just let it stay in the quiet room as much as possible.

You can also slowly take it around and allow it to meet your guests one-by-one in a non-threatening way.

  • Traveling

Whether you are taking your dog with you or boarding it, both equal a change in its routine. Be sure to keep plenty of familiar items with it such as toys and blankets. If your dog is traveling with you, find a good place for it to travel or crate it to help it feel more secure.

Dogs naturally have a denning instinct when they are upset so providing a secure place for it to travel may make the experience more pleasant.

Is your dog afraid of fireworks?

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New Year's and Fourth of July

In the United States, New Year's and the Fourth of July, or Independence Day almost always involve explosions.

Fireworks, firecrackers and noise makers help revelers celebrate the holiday but it may be a very nerve-wracking experience for your dog.

There are several options for helping your dog survive the noise. You can place them in an interior room with a television or radio turned up so that they can't hear the noise as much. If possible have one of their family stay with them during the celebrations.

You can also talk to your vet about prescribing a mild sedative to help your dog relax during these particular holidays. If your dog has been especially stressed during past holiday fireworks, this may be a good option for him or her.

It is also really important to keep your dog indoors during the fireworks. Even calmer dogs may get spooked and run away, jump over a fence or dig out. According to Petamberalert, more dogs are lost during the period of July 4th to July 6th than any other part of the year. Don't let your dog be one of the statistics.

How To Help A Dog Who Is Afraid of Fireworks

Take Aways

Dog personalities range from high-strung to very relaxed and laid-back. But even the calmest of dogs can feel some anxiety during the holidays due to changes in their routines and the introduction of strangers to their home.

When you are making holiday plans, don't forget to include preparations for your dog. Making sure that it has as little disruption as possible will make you and your pet happier and make the holidays even more enjoyable.


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