With the holidays around the corner, there will be many parties, celebrations, and gatherings. Remember to keep your pet in mind by recognizing these signs of holiday stress.
Wide Eyes and Averting Gaze – Wide eyes and showing the whites of the eye both indicate that a dog is stressed out. Often dogs with this expression avoid your gaze as well.
Lip Licking and Yawning – Both are indicators of stress. It is important to assess the exact situation. If a dog is lying on the couch by itself and licks its lips or yawns, it is most likely not stress. If a dog is being hugged, tugged on, etc., and begins to emit these warning signs, this is a clear indicator that he/she is now anxious.
Hackling (spiking of the fur along the spine) – For a dog, this is an involuntary response to his environment and can mean the dog is nervous and anxious.
Shivering or Shaking – A stressed dog may shiver or shake and appear to be cold. This is typically not due to being cold, but due to being nervous and anxious. Again, you must look at the whole situation to determine the cause.
Backing Away or Hiding – Whether the dog backs itself into a corner or tries to hide, this is a clear sign that the dog is uncomfortable and trying to escape. It is important to leave these dogs alone! Allow them to come to you.
How to Comfort Dogs Showing Signs of Stress
Provide a safe space – Set up a crate, separate room, bed, or other escape where the pet can lie down and not be bothered. It’s important to ensure those around the pet leave it alone when it goes to its safe space.
Remove your pet from stressful situations – If a pet is stressed in a particular setting, the best thing you can do for yourself and your pet is to remove it from the situation entirely. Forcing a pet to be in a scary situation that causes it stress can make it worse and increases the risk of the pet injuring someone or themselves out of fear.
Occupy your pet – A little extra exercise and access to treats that take time to go through can help take the pet’s mind off of its stress and relax. A long-lasting bone or chew paired with its safe space can provide relief.
Try a calming aid – There are also calming aids available like slow-paced, classical music, natural calming sprays, thundershirts, and pet rescue remedies that could help take the edge off your pet. These may not work for every pet, and if the pet’s stress levels consistently get worse, it may be time to talk to a rewards-based trainer and veterinarian.
Keeping your pet calm during the holiday season is important for keeping them happy and healthy. Contact us if you have questions about your pet’s anxiety during the holiday season.