Christmas is only a few weeks away. Friends and families will be gathering to celebrate the holidays, food will be everywhere, Christmas trees are full or ornaments and shiny objects, presents of varying sizes and colored wraps are sitting underneath them… It’s a tremendous amount of stimulation for your dog to be coping with. For many dogs, it’s a true test of their ability to control their impulses.
Do you have a space where your dog can decompress? An area of your home where he can collect himself so that he doesn’t give in to his impulses? A quiet place where she can just relax and catch her breath and not worry that she’ll be bothered every five seconds?
Giving your dog decompression time during busy holiday periods is crucial to their mental well-being. Even the best-behaved dogs can become overwhelmed and end up giving in to their natural impulses to go after the food that’s laying around or vent out their pent-up energy onto things they shouldn’t – like presents or Christmas trees.
If you haven’t thought about it before, consider this perspective: Just for a moment, think about all the things you have to do to prepare for the holiday season. Now, shorten that schedule by three days, have people calling you or asking you for things all day, every day, and take no breaks. You’re going to feel overwhelmed in no time. You won’t mean to, but you’ll find yourself getting short-tempered, making mistakes in cooking or baking, and generally feeling so stressed that you just want to scream.
This is how it can be for pets. They’ll try so hard to be good – to not go after the presents, the tree, or the food that’s laying around. They really will try to be good for you. But, if they don’t have a space to just stop, relax, and breathe without being bothered every five seconds, they’re going to start acting out – likely, in ways you aren’t going to like.
Make sure your dog has a quiet space they can retreat to when they feel overwhelmed. A place where they won’t be bothered by humans, where they can get themselves under control again, where they can just relax and breathe and settle. When they’re ready to join the festivities again, they will – whether in five minutes, or two hours. Whatever time they need to decompress, let them have it. They’ll love you more for recognizing their need, and they’ll trust you more because you’re showing them you have their back.