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How to keep your dog stress free this Christmas

Published on 22nd December 2016

Christmas is a wonderful time of the year, a time for families to come together, good food and good times with friends. However this can sometimes all be a little overwhelming, especially to pets who are slightly more anxious or have yet to experience their first Christmas in your home. With all these new sights and sounds it can increase stress and make them feel unsettled.

Signs to watch out for

Pets may give subtle signs that they are stressed and to us humans it’s not always obvious. In dogs these can include showing the whites of their eyes, yawning, sneezing, licking their lips or leaning away from us.

What can you do to help?

Firstly provide an escape route to a place where they can feel safe, like a quiet room or a nice bed away from the hustle and bustle. It’s ok to reassure and comfort your pet to make him or her feel more comfortable about the situation.
Encourage friends and family they’ve not met before to give them lots of space, letting them come to them in their own time. Remember young children can be unpredictable so never leave unsupervised with pets, again encouraging the child to give lots of space.

If your dog is an excited greeter, practice some settle downs on a mat or its bed prior to visitors arriving. You may need to control and manage the situation by having the dog on a lead when people enter or behind a baby gate.This will help set your dog up for success, avoiding granny being knocked over by your bounding hound!

Conclusion

Finally if you are thinking all these tips are simply common sense, think again. I’ve witnessed many anxious and confused pets who just simply can’t cope at Christmas. If this is the case you may need to rethink the amount of traffic coming into your home and practice some set ups, with help of friends and family before the big day. With lots of short, positive introductions you will help your dog become not only familiar with your family but already be adjusted to their presence in your house.

Thanks for reading
Helen Motteram, BSc (hons)

For more advice or support please email me on: Helen@socialpawscheltenham.co.uk