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Dog Behavior to Watch for During the Holiday Season

Dog Behavior to Watch for During the Holiday Season

The holidays are a busy time of year for people, and all the hustle and bustle can affect dogs, too.

Out of town guests, travel plans or even just a change to the daily routine can be stressful for your dogs, sometimes causing them to hide or shy away in fear. Some dogs may even respond to additional stress by showing signs of aggression.

But don’t worry; dogs and holidays don’t have to be mutually exclusive. There are some things you can to help ease the stress your dog may be experiencing at this time of year.

  • Stay on a Schedule: Keep your daily routine the same as much as possible. That means feeding, walking and playing with your dog at the usual times.
  • Offer a Comfort Zone: Provide a safe place for your dog to escape to. A quiet bedroom where your dog can go to get away from the commotion and be alone may help to alleviate anxiety.
  • Meet and Greet with Caution: Don’t force your dog to interact with new people or unfamiliar pets. Allow your dog to initiate the contact.

Dogs and Holiday Decorations

The holiday season also presents some new safety concerns that you should keep in mind. Festive trees help make the season bright, but care needs to be taken to be sure it isn’t a hazard for your dog. Some dogs like to hide under or play around the tree as this can become a den-like area for them.

Decorations like flashing lights, tinsel, shiny objects, presents and even extension cords can be mistaken for toys by your dog. Not only are ribbon, tinsel, lights and ornaments choking hazards, ingesting them can cause intestinal blockages. Chewing on decorations can result in mouth injuries, and a nibble on an extension cord can lead to an electric shock.

How to Keep Dogs Safe from Holiday Hazards

Luckily, there are some tips you can follow to prevent dogs from potentially dangerous decorations and other holiday temptations. For starters, are three things you can do to keep your dog’s curiosity at bay when it comes to the tree:

  • Limit Access:  Keep your dog out of the room where the tree located or use a barrier in front of it. If you have a live tree, remember that if you put any chemical additive into the water to keep the tree fresh, this can be toxic to your dog so don’t give them access to the solution.
  • Make it Stable:  Keep in mind that a tree can fall over on your dog so make sure that it is secure by using a sturdy stand and affixing your tree to a wall or the ceiling.
  • Trim with Caution: While some dogs may not take interest in ornaments or tinsel, it is always a good idea to keep all decorations out of your dog’s reach to prevent choking and other dangers.

Keep any presents, especially those that might contain food, away from your dog and be sure to put away all ribbon after it has been used. If you suspect your dog has ingested any of the things discussed in this article, you should contact your local veterinarian or emergency hospital immediately.

Holiday Treating

If your dog is food-oriented, begging behavior can increase at this time of year. Make sure your guests don’t feed your dog from the table. Many holiday foods can cause illness, an upset stomach, pancreatitis (inflammatory disease of the pancreas) or be toxic to your dog.

Learn More

For more information on holiday-related dog behavior please read the articles below from our pet behavior resource library. You can also learn more about training, common challenges and behavior-related health issues in our preventive care center.