If you have an anxious dog, or a dog who was formerly anxious, or a dog who tends to potty in the house when YOU get stressed out, this post is for you.
Welcome to the holidays, the time when everything goes haywire and dogs, inevitably, start making your life harder.
It’s really not surprising, if you think about it. Suddenly the people around them are in chaos, their normal patterns are broken, and they’re probably not getting the attention or exercise they’re used to, while at the same time are expected to behave better around strangers. Yeah, right!
Dogs respond to all of the above by reverting, especially if their reversion has to do with stress or anxiety. There are certainly things you can do to help your pup through the holidays, though!
1. Take time for doggie exercise.
This could also be called “Keep their patterns normal.” The more like usual you can keep your schedule, the calmer your dog will be. (You’ll probably be calmer, too!) If they normally go for a walk in the morning, take them for a walk in the morning. Maybe they usually go for a forty minute walk, and you can only manage a twenty minute one: it’s better than skipping it altogether. Pay attention to your own schedule as well: if you tend to work from midnight to seven a.m. and then walk the dog, do some shopping, and go to bed, try and keep as close to that as possible. It will help not only your own body and mind continue to function at its best, but it’ll keep your dog calmer, too!
2. Take time for yourself.
This is one of those things that people tend to skip, especially people who are really into making their dogs’ lives perfect. Let me tell you this: You can only take good care of someone (or something) else if you are taking good care of yourself. One of the first things I tell people who have puppies is to put the puppy down to nap and take some self time! If you’re stressed and unhappy, you can’t help anyone else. If that means your dog might have to skip his walk altogether every other day, then that’s fine. You’ll have the mental wherewithal to deal with the minor troubles your dog might cause if you’re rested and they’re less walked, but you won’t have the mental wherewithal to deal with those same troubles if you’re stressed and they’re exercised, but responding to your stress. TAKE TIME!
3. If your dog really has anxiety issues, think about getting them on an herbal remedy like Rescue Remedy or getting them a Thundershirt. Both are good for just taking the edge off, and helping to keep a relatively stable dog centered.
4. Expect issues. If you know that your dog is also under stress and that you’ll probably hit some snags, then you’ll be prepared to take those snags in stride when they happen. You’ll know it’s not a major problem, but an expected part of the holidays, and that any backward steps aren’t permanent! Give yourself and your dog a little extra TLC, and don’t worry too much.
And above all, take a few deep breaths and have some fun!