The holidays are a time for friends, family, carolers, traveling, fireworks and more. And for most people, that’s great! But for some of our furry friends? Not so much. The hustle and bustle of people constantly going in and out the door, as well as all kinds of unusual sights and sounds, sometimes stress out our four-legged besties. This agitation can lead to signs of stress in dogs including jumping, howling, nipping, overexcitement and all other manners of bad behavior. Here’s how to survive the holidays and provide your stressed-out pet with stress relief!
Recognize Signs of Stress
Part of pet ownership is learning how to read your animal’s mood. This way you can know when your pet needs stress relief and a break from holiday festivities. Dogs tend to be a little more transparent than cats. Signs of stress in dogs include hyperactivity, running away, whining, the “zoomies” (running around in circles), howling, barking, jumping, pulling on their leash and not paying attention to commands.
Cryptic cats tend to show their emotions through their eyes. Dilated pupils mean your cat is excited. This could also be a sign they’re surprised or scared. Constricted pupils mean your cat is angry and needs some space! Leaving your cat alone while you travel can cause cat separation anxiety. Try to arrange a pet sitter to look in on them. Cat separation anxiety can also be avoided by boarding them with a quality facility.
Call a Time-Out
As much as we wish our pets could roam free during the holidays, sometimes it’s for their own good that we keep them on a tight leash (literally). As always, all of your pets need an identification tag with their name and your phone number in case the two of your ever separate. Pets frequently get lost during the holidays, so ID tags are super important this time of year.
If your pet is acting up, you might want to stick them in a separate room or in a crate to provide your pet some stress relief. This will give them peace and quiet to calm down and collect themselves. We like Pawd crates because they’re lightweight, collapsible and easy to clean.
Use Calming Aids for Pet Stress Relief
If your pet is normally sweet as can be, you might want to first try some calming aids to relieve signs of stress in dogs and cats:
- ThunderShirts are a drug-free option for both cats and dogs. They work the same way swaddling calms down a baby.
- Over-the-counter options, like Rescue Remedy and CBD products, are also known to help soothe anxious animals. These homeopathic pet stress relief solutions are favorites at shelters.
- Speak to your veterinarian about prescription medication. This might be a good short-term solution, particularly if you’re traveling during the holiday season.
Practice Positive Reinforcement
Don’t give in to the urge to scold your pet when they misbehave. Telling them off won’t improve their behavior. It might even make the situation worse. If you’ve already tried calming aids for pet stress relief and putting your pet in a time-out, you might want to try training them with positive reinforcement. This training method is effective and humane. Instead of punishing your pet for bad behavior, reward them for good behavior.
For instance, if you want to train your dog to sit, say the command “sit.” Once your dog finally sits, immediately reward them with a treat. This reinforces good behavior and teaches them to repeat it every time you say “sit.”