I love the Christmas season, like many people. There’s friends and parties, foods and warming scents, candles and trees, snow and hot chocolate for some. But the hustle and bustle can be hard on our dogs, especially the sensitive or shy ones.
Your time spent socializing the dog during the year gets put to the test, for sure. If you know your pup has some issues, then you can expect the stress to make this time of year extra tough for them.
There’s usually three things going on around Christmas in a dog’s perspective: a higher excitement levels, higher amounts of unusual human activities, and often, lower amounts of exercise as our time is crunched by a big to-do list.
We humans may know why we have that sense of anticipation, but our dogs don’t realize Christmas is in a few weeks. They just know we are excited, maybe we are anxious, and anticipating something. They get excited too, they just don’t know why. And their ability to contain emotional intensity is lower than ours. In short, they’re looking for what it is we seem to be anticipating for weeks on end.
Most of us don’t usually have family and friends showing up so very often as during the holidays. More people, more goings on, the routine is altered. There’s all these sparkly decorations around, and rich, enticing foods being cooked. Noises and scents, visual simulus spike during the holidays. Then there’s the social interactions with people, some of it wanted and perhaps some of it not.
Alot of us get really busy, really frazzled, really tired, too. The holiday stuff is added on top of already busy schedules. Add to that winter’s worsening weather, and it becomes harder to take the walk or go out to play with the dog when all you want is to curl up for a nap.
What you’ve got is a recipe for a seriously over-stimulated and underexercised pup! That means a normally calm dog might forget their manners and jump up to greet someone. Or a shy dog gets anxious and spooked by kids running about the house. Or an excitable dog becomes hard to control and destructive.
The single most important thing to tone down the stress on your dog is exercise: they’ve got to have somewhere to burn off the building excitement. Before you scold the dog for misbehaving, consider if he or she is just too wound up to control themselves anymore. Give them a chance to run and play, to have some fun with you, perhaps even more than usual so they can cope with all the goings on.
Exercise releases a whole bunch of beneficial chemicals in our brains and theirs too. It’s also good for you to put down the must-do list, and enjoy yourself for awhile.