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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 stresses out our four-legged besties. This agitation can lead to jumping, howling, nipping and all other manner of bad behavior. Here’s how to survive the holidays with a stressed-out pet!
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 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!
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. 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. Plus Found Animals readers can save 10% when they use code FOUND10 at checkout.
Use Calming Aids
If your pet is normally sweet as can be, you might want to first try some calming aids:
- 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 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 into 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 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 the good behavior and teaches them to repeat it every time you say “sit.”
Do you have any holiday survival tips? Let us know on Facebook!