Ways to Make Your Pup Feel Comfortable During the Holidays

December 19, 2022

Sometimes, the holiday season can be tough on our four-legged friends. As you start planning your holiday festivities, it's essential to remember the safety and well-being of our pets too!

Extensive family gatherings, loud noises, and brightly lit rooms may get your pets excited at first, but the situation can quickly lead to overstimulation. According to experts, pets can experience a rapid change in their behaviors during the holiday season, so it’s essential to recognize signs of their anxiety and take steps to make your home a safe environment. 

Here are some tips for making your pup feel calm and comfortable this holiday season.

Maintain a Regular Routine

Your furry friends are creatures of habit, so following a routine is important to maintaining their health and well-being. It’s also good to set aside time for their daily activities to help them thrive. During the holidays, it can be easy to get distracted, but as a pet owner, you must be extra careful to follow their daily routine as closely as possible. 

In addition to keeping their sleeping, eating, and activity levels constant, it's best not to introduce any dietary changes for your dog during the holidays. This means making sure that you don't feed your pup food that is unsuitable for dogs, such as chocolates, grapes, sweets, coffee, bones, or onions. And of course, ensure that your four-legged friend has plenty of fresh water to drink at their leisure.

Learn How to Recognize Signs of Stress

By definition, stress is an automatic reaction of a living being when they undergo extreme emotions or intense stimuli — both positive and negative. Stress enables us to stay alert to any rapid changes in our environment, and helps us cope with these changes effectively. 

But what does stress look like in our pets? Learning to detect that your pup is stressed and figuring out how to calm your dog down when that happens is essential as a pet owner. To help, here are some common symptoms of stress in dogs:

  • Ears back
  • Tail tucked
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Panting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lethargy
  • Frequent urination and bowel movements
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive salivation
  • Compulsive self-licking
  • Loss of hair
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unusual behavior

Some signs may seem contradictory, such as nervousness vs. lethargy or dry mouth vs. salivation — but it’s because not all dogs react in the same way. As a result, it’s important that you know all the possible signs of stress that your four-legged friend may experience.

Occasional low levels of stress likely isn't a cause for concern, as it can sometimes be beneficial in that it helps maintain alertness. But if the stress continues for a prolonged period of time, it can cause long-term behavioral problems like aggression, fear, anxiety, and depression. Therefore, during your holiday festivities, we highly advise keeping a close eye on your dog's stress levels and taking steps to alleviate the situation if you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms.

Create a Safe Haven for Your Pup

The most important thing you can do is make sure your pup has a safe place to relax if the loud noises and unfamiliar faces become too much. A safe space should be somewhere that your dog is comfortable, so ensure they have a bed to curl up on in a place with a moderate temperature. Whether it’s in their training crate or a separate room depends on your pup’s preferences, but we do recommend that you leave some toys in their safe space to help keep them engaged.

When determining how to make your dog more comfortable, a good strategy is to see where they tend to go naturally when they need to rest. Perhaps it’s in the corner of your bedroom or on a rug in the kitchen. Wherever it is, it’s paramount that your pup has a positive association with it so they feel relaxed while there. And of course, it should be free of dangers like toxic plants and electrical cables.

Keep in mind that dogs are very social beings, so even if their designated space is in a quiet area, they may also want to feel close to the rest of the family, so providing that access is ideal. Lastly, consider minimizing noise by playing some calm music, which has been proven to have the power to calm stressed dogs.

Find Dog-Friendly Holiday Activities

Various holiday events are now pet-friendly to ensure it will be a memorable time for the whole family, including your pups! Perhaps you’d like to take a hike with your pup in the Los Angeles or San Diego areas while wearing a festive holiday sweater, or you can pay a visit to a pet-friendly Christmas market in your area.

Other pet-friendly events to consider include local tree lighting ceremonies, holiday light shows, or finding somewhere your pup can take photos with Santa!

Plan in Advance

Although it’s hard not to bring your dog everywhere, it’s important not to always assume that it’s okay to bring your dog to every holiday party and event. Be sure to check with your dinner party hosts and restaurants to see if they’re okay with your pup tagging along — you never know if someone might be allergic or if the host’s dogs are territorial. Consider asking other guests in advance to give your pup some space initially, so everyone feels more comfortable. 

If you’re going to travel and can't take your dog with you, you should arrange for a pet sitter or caregiver that you trust well in advance — but it is possible to take your pup on the plane if they are a registered service animal and up-to-date on their vaccinations. Holidays with dogs are becoming more common as more people travel with their furry friends, so it’s easy to find pet-friendly travel options if you plan on flying somewhere this holiday.

How to Keep Your Dog Calm When Guests Come Over

When visitors enter your home, your dog probably has one of two reactions: they’re either overjoyed or overprotective. We all know dogs that tend to pounce on people when they arrive, or dogs that bark or growl at guests. While it’s natural for dogs to get excited when guests come over, it’s possible to mitigate this behavior with proper training. Here few strategies to help:

  • Stay calm. If your dog gets overly excited when guests come over, it's essential to act in such a way that you do not increase their arousal but instead encourage calm reactions by being calm yourself. Our furry friends are pack animals by nature, so they're very perceptive to our emotions. Speaking in a quiet yet assertive manner will help to put them at ease.
  • Allow them to get familiar with visitors. Letting your dog sniff guests and having visitors give your four-legged friend a toy or treat to encourage positive association is a great strategy. 
  • Take your dog for a walk beforehand. A long walk can help expend some energy and allow them to relax prior to the arrival of visitors.

Lastly, be sure to use the strategies previously mentioned in this article — like sticking to a routine — to help your pup feel calmer. And if the guests become too much for your dog, having a safe space is essential to give your furry friend the opportunity to settle down until they’re ready to socialize again.

Schedule A Spaw Day

When your dog looks great, they'll likely feel great too. Before your holiday festivities begin, we highly recommend scheduling a grooming session to treat your dog to a relaxing spaw day. In addition to the aesthetics, dog grooming provides essential hygienic, therapeutic, and antiparasitic benefits for your pup.

As we all know, the holiday season is a busy time, so we come to you with our state-of-the-art mobile dog grooming salons to keep your furry friend happy and healthy while saving you time. So don’t delay, schedule an appointment today with Barkbus!


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