Dog lovers know our furry friends are creatures of habit. They like their meals at the same time each day, they enjoy the company of familiar people, and they get antsy if you’re gone too long. With all of the gatherings and celebrations during the holidays, it’s tough to stick to these routines, which can cause anxiety or stress for your puppers. But we can help curb your stress and theirs! From holiday dog boarding to safe holiday foods for dogs, and more, we’ve got you covered.

Don’t sweat the small routine changes

The holidays are a time where schedules are disrupted for families. Kids are staying up later for school events and parties, more gatherings indoors may lead to unusual family sicknesses, and let’s not forget the 100 last minute shopping trips to get those gifts crossed off your list.

If you find yourself wondering where Fido fits into your busy schedule, rest easy knowing that feeding him dinner two hours later than normal after that late holiday party won’t bother him too much! Dogs are surprisingly resilient and any amount of unnecessary stress introduced to their environment should be avoided. That includes YOU! When you are stressed, your dog can sense it, so leave the guilt at the door and if your dog misses his walk, it’s not the end of the world.

Limit stressful events with your dog

While it can be tempting to load up your dog and take them with you on that outing to get pictures with Santa, be mindful of your dog’s comfort level in unfamiliar situations and with new people. Just like those toddlers who scream at the thought of sitting on Santa’s lap, your pup may not be too fond of the jolly bearded man.

Conversely, bringing people into your home that your dog doesn’t regularly see can also bring stress. Try doing introductions to new people outside your home with your dog on leash in a neutral area, or consider keeping your dog crated when the new person first arrives. Taking the time to demonstrate that the new person in your home is trusted can go a long way for a dog who struggles with shyness or reactivity. If all else fails, reach out to Dog Training Camp USA for some quick tips on how this process should work!

If you know that your dog sometimes struggles to adapt, consider foregoing the week at grandma’s and leaving your dog at a trusted boarder or with a familiar sitter. The last thing you need ruining your holiday plans is a stressed-out dog who may act uncharacteristically when out of his comfort zone.

Explore alternative ways to exercise your dog

The most wonderful time of the year is also the darkest time of the year. A lot of families are returning home from work or school after the sun has already set, leaving no time for your dog’s daily exercise walk or favorite backyard game. Pair this limitation with a busy schedule, and you’ll be wondering when the heck your dog is ever going to get outside!

Think of activities your dog enjoys and build stimulation exercises from there.

  • Does your dog love to sniff for hours on end? Hide a few of his favorite treats around the house and go hunt for them together.
  • Does your dog LOVE to socialize with people? Take your dog over to the local Lowe’s or Home Depot and do your evening walk there.
  • For the dog who lives for playtime, try a game of tug that stimulates your dog’s brain with added obedience commands.
  • Play human hide and seek with the kiddos! Your dog will love to watch your child run into the other room and then try to find where they are hiding.
  • Teach your dog a new trick routine. It will be engaging for your dog and you can show it off to friends and family.

With a little creativity, lack of sunlight doesn’t have to mean that your dog stays cooped up until spring. If your busy schedule this time of year just doesn’t allow for these kinds of activities, consider boarding your dog during the busiest part of your holiday season. They’ll get socialization with kennel staff and other dogs, they can settle into a routine, and they’ll be thrilled to see you afterwards!

Save yourself from unplanned vet visits

We all love to have our pets included in family events. After all, they are also treasured members of our families. Keep in mind, though, that their needs are very different from ours.

For example, my grandmother would let our Dachshund puppies drink several gulps of beer from her glass at every Christmas gathering and when we told her to stop she would say “but honey, they’re German!” German dogs or not, this little tradition gave them diarrhea for several days, much to my mother’s dismay. Sound familiar?

Even seemingly safe foods, like mashed sweet potatoes or ham, often have ingredients that can upset a dog’s digestion. Do yourself a favor and forego giving your dog access to these special foods. If you can’t make your guests do the same, consider crating your dog during the visit to keep them safe. This also includes giving your dog access to children’s toys or other choking/blockage hazards- when something is colorful and chewy, it’s hard to resist! Nothing kills holiday cheer quite like the smell of diarrhea filling the air, except maybe an emergency vet visit!

Safe holiday food ideas for your dog to try:

  • Plain sweet potatoes
  • Apples in moderation
  • Turkey meat with no bones or skin
  • Green beans
  • Pumpkin

Consider holiday boarding for your dog

If all else fails and you still feel as though your dog is taking a back seat at Christmas time, don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements! A professional dog walker can help ensure your pup is getting the exercise they need, as well as offer safe social engagement for them while you’re away. Alternatively, you can add a few extra days of dog daycare, giving them more time to socialize (and rest!) in a safe environment. Dog day camp is a great option from Dog Training Camp USA if your dog doesn’t love daycare, as each dog gets individualized training and play time. Your dog will be happy to get out of the house, get his much-needed exercise, and look forward to snuggling and cuddles when it’s time to relax and spend time with family. For prolonged periods of busy-ness, boarding your dog for a few days is a great option!

Still struggling to keep Sparky happy during the holiday season? Let us help! Drop us a line here —> We would be happy to spread holiday cheer by making every dog’s family time as stress-free as possible.