Tips to Relax a Pet During the Holidays

Help your dog and cat acclimate to changes around the house during Christmas and New Year.

Help your dog unwind during the holidaysSure, ’tis the season to be jolly. But for some dogs, the holiday season spells s-t-r-e-s-s.

“There are many changes that occur during the holiday season that can impact pets,” says Steven Appelbaum, president of Animal Behavior College and a veteran dog trainer. “Changes in schedule, family visits, shopping and generally being busy can lead to your dog or cat feeling blue.” But it doesn’t have to be this way, Appelbaum says. Read on for his tips.

  • Keep life as “normal” as possible. If you usually take your dog for a walk every morning, don’t stop or cut back during the holidays.

  • Avoid dietary upsets. Nix the temptation to let your pets share holiday treats meant for people. The No. 1 offender? Chocolate. And remember that some plants, such as poinsettia, can cause stomach upset, while others, such as mistletoe and holly, are poisonous.

  • Help your pet make positive associations with holiday objects. Take your pet around items such as your Christmas tree or gifts and feed him a special treat. Do this a few times during the day for several days. This will teach your dog to make positive associations with the new items in your home, which reduces the likelihood he’ll stress out around them.
  • Keep your mood in check. People are at higher risk for the blues this time of year. Pets can pick up on your depression or anxiety, so try to make your holiday time a happy one. You’ll help yourself — and your pet, too.

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