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The Holidays, Stress and Your Dog – How Exercise Can Help

The holidays can be a stressful time for many people, but it can also be stressful for your dog. Extra family and children around that your dog isn’t used to, disruption to routine, traveling, and so on can cause stress for the whole family. Dogs thrive on routine, yet the holidays are generally not routine. What can you do to help relieve your dog’s stress during the holidays? That depends.

Do you have guests coming to visit you?

If so, make sure you have a place where you dog can get away from all the excitement, especially if your dog is older or not tolerant of people he doesn’t know. Make it a point increase your dog’s exercise regimen to ensure he’s tired. A tired dog is a better behaved dog. At the very least, continue his normal exercise program, so he can work out some of the excitement and stress. Woman running with her dog Be sure you supervise your dog with children, even your own. Extra people around over the holidays can be over-stimulating to dogs so you need to be careful. And unless your dog knows your guests’ dog(s), suggest they leave their pets at home. You and your dog don’t need the added stress of managing dogs who aren’t friends.

Are you traveling and taking your dog with you?

Since dogs find comfort in the familiarity of their regular surroundings, traveling can create anxiety. Bring your dog’s bedding and some of his favorite toys with you to help ease his anxiety. If your dog is a nervous traveler, try to get him accustomed to riding in the car before you leave. You can also try some homeopathic calming aids to help relax him. Plan to exercise your dog as much as possible to help relieve stress. A great way to exercise him is to walk your dog and allow him dog to sniff and get to know his temporary surroundings. By allowing him to sniff you are giving him great mental stimulation as well, which helps to tire him out.

Are you traveling and have to board your dog?

Do your homework ahead of time to choose the best boarding facility for your dog. Tour the facility, note how clean it is, and whether there’s enough space for your dog to run and play. Ask how the facility about  their emotional needs to make sure your dog won’t be stressed the whole time. Ask where your dog will be sleeping and how much outdoor playtime your dog will have. Ask what other charges you may incur. Do your research and ask as many questions as you need. Then trust your gut feeling whether you’re comfortable leaving your dog.

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Whatever happens over the holidays, please consider your dog and the stress he may feel as a result. Try your best to minimize that stress. Your dog will be happier and healthier in the long run. And I believe that’s what we want for our four legged family members. Happy holidays!


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