How to help your dog during the festive season
Cheryl and Larry were extremely delighted having recently moved into their new home. They had designed their dream house, even taking into consideration their pet dog Nelly. The floors were carpeted which aided Nelly to walk without slipping on the surface. Everything was perfect. The couple had friends or family visiting every day for the last week of December. At the start of the new year, the couple and their dog were exhausted. And rightly so.
Dogs are constantly trying to adapt to our lives. Over the past few fifty years or so, they have gone from being outdoor dogs to being mostly indoor dogs. Their environment has changed, their food habits and way to get food has changed, and their freedom to move around has changed. Adapting to these changes is not an overnight process. Many dogs are still struggling to adapt to the modern life conditions.
We often hear of dogs going through behaviour issues during the festive season and shortly after festivities have ended. During this period dogs can undergo additional stress because the celebrations are not a part of their usual comfort routine.
Some of the things that can cause stress during the festive period include:
- Late night parties
- Too many guests
- Attending events and other parties
- Extra lights
- New and possible loud sounds from music, chatting, and fireworks
How is your dog experiencing the celebrations?
It is possible that all the activities are bringing out an emotional response in your dog. Dogs can get overwhelmed by them and it can quickly escalate into stress. The commotion inside the house might also make your dog not get proper sleep. We hear of families saying that their dog enjoys being with people. But even if they enjoy being with people, they need to be able to rest after some time.
The fireworks outside add to the stress in dogs. If the dog is unwell or has pain, the loud sounds can add to the pain and make them more fearful.
As with humans, dogs are also individuals and they will experience these activities differently. It is important that you understand when your dog is in stress by understanding a dog’s calming signals. Once you can identify stress, you can take measures to help your dog cope with it. Some of the things which would help your dog would be to ensure:
- Your dog is getting enough sleep and opportunity to rest
- Your dog has a choice to move away from the guests if it is getting too much
- If your dog isn’t happy with guests but does not like being isolated, do some calming activities together
- Walk your dog before the fireworks begin
- If your dog gets scared during the fireworks, give them options to feel safe such as the bathroom or under the bed. It is important that you are present with your scared dog throughout the fireworks. Some dogs prefer to be touched while some don’t. Support your dog in every way they need to be supported.