Helping Dogs Relax During the Holidays
The holiday season, starting at Halloween and going all the way through New Years, is an exciting time for the whole family – except maybe not for the dog. Small children ringing the doorbell dressed in strange-looking costumes, tons of familiar and unfamiliar people coming over to the house to eat lots of delicious smelling food that can make them sick, presents, staying up until midnight and yelling “Happy New Years!”. If you have a nervous, anxious, or reactive dog, the holidays can be very stressful. Here are some tips to help your pet get through the holidays.
- Exercise is crucial for any dog, but especially reactive or anxious dogs. It’s helpful to tire your dog out before any holiday plans. Bring them for a long walk or run, play ball, do some training, or bring them to TGDS. We know the holidays can be a busy time but don’t neglect exercising your dog. Think ahead and exercise your dog extra for the week leading up to holiday gatherings.
- Remain calm. Owners have a bad habit of anticipating their dog’s bad behavior. Dogs can read our body language and energy, so if you are nervous and anxious, they will become more nervous and anxious. Be confident and calm, and your dog will feel more secure. Being prepared with a game plan is helpful. Be aware of how your dog will react to guests and know the best way to prevent it. Consult TGDS for tips.
- Give your dog a safe place to go. If they enjoy hanging out in their crate or a comfortable dog bed, move it into a quiet room in the house. Keep that room accessible to the dog but off-limits to guests, especially children. Provide your dog with a yummy bone or stuffed Kong to enjoy whenever they need to retreat. If they decide to hang out in that room, go visit with them occasionally so they don’t get lonely.
- Teach your dog the ‘settle’ command. Not all dogs know how relax on their own. Many feel the need to see what is going on at all times. Teaching them to settle is a great way for you to know they are out of dangerous situations when you are busy entertaining guests. The “settle” command is teaching them to go to their crate or a bed and lay down. The best way to train this behavior is by rewarding it when they are already doing it, so starting way before you have guests over.
- It’s always good to have a well-oiled plan in place before holiday gatherings. Practice with your dog in smaller group settings. Invite friends over for the purpose of practicing these techniques. If your dog is not quite ready for guests, they can always come spend time at TGDS. They will have fun with their daycare friends and hang out with staff in a stress-free setting.
National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week
How You Can Help Shelter Pets Find Loving Homes
According to the ASPCA, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Some of these dogs and cats are fortunate enough to be adopted into caring, responsible, and permanent homes. However, 2.7 million shelter animals are euthanized every year.
Celebrated this first full week of November, National Animal Shelter and Rescue Appreciation Week, is meant to familiarize the community with local shelters and how they can support them.
Here are a few ways you can help animal shelters and rescues:
- Adopt your next pet. Western Massachusetts is home to many great animal shelters where you will be sure to find your next furry friend.
- Encourage friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors to adopt from shelters to help save the lives of pets who are hopeless in shelters.
- Donate money, supplies, and toys to local shelters to help make the shelter pets have a comfortable and fun stay!
- Volunteer at any local shelter or rescue. Volunteers make it possible for shelters to serve the overwhelming amount of pets with the love and care they deserve.
“Animal shelters and recuses do everything they can to help homeless animals, however, they can’t do it alone,” says Elizabeth Staples, owner of The Good Dog Spot. “Shelters have very limited resources; donating money, supplies, or your time can help them dramatically. Even the smallest amount of you support can help assist in their lifesaving work”.