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How to Decrease Your Dog’s Stress During the Holidays

If you think the holidays are stressful, your dog might also be feeling a little anxious!

Changes in your dog’s routine could make him feel nervous, and it doesn’t take much! Something as simple as rearranging the furniture to make room for a Christmas tree might seem odd for your dog.

It can also be stressful for our dogs when friends and family visit during the holidays, especially if they stay for a few days or if they bring their own pets!

This post is sponsored by Ceva Animal Health, the maker of ADAPTIL® for dogs, a product designed to reduce a dog’s anxiety using dog appeasing pheromones.

If you are interested in trying ADAPTIL® for your dog, we have a giveaway at the end of this post! All you have to do is leave a comment and you’re entered! Update: The giveaway has ended.

ADAPTIL® mimics the natural dog-appeasing pheromone dogs know from birth that can help them feel safe and secure in their environment. Read more about ADAPTIL® here.

Five ideas on how to decrease your dog’s stress during the holidays

1. Don’t force your dog to interact.

If your dog wants to interact with your visitors, then great! However, don’t force it. You know your dog best and how he feels around strangers.

Likewise, if your visitors bring their dogs along, slow introductions are usually best.

I highly recommend introducing the dogs outside on “neutral” territory or even heading out for a walk together right away. Head-on greetings in tight quarters like in the doorway can bring out protective behavior from dogs, especially with a lot of excitement going on.

See my post: How to introduce dogs.

2. Use ADAPTIL® for Dogs to help your pup feel calm.

ADAPTIL® is designed to help dogs feel more secure by mimicking the natural dog-appeasing pheromone they know from birth.

Pheromones are chemicals produced and released into the environment by animals. They work outside the body and can affect the behavior of others of its species.

ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser

ADAPTIL® is available in several formats including a ADAPTIL® Calm On-The-Go Collar, a ADAPTIL® Calm Home Diffuser or a ADAPTIL® Travel spray. The spray can be used on a bandana or on your dog’s bedding.

The product can help dogs with a wide variety of issues such as:

  • separation anxiety
  • stress around visitors
  • anxiety during thunder or fireworks
  • visiting the vet
  • travel
  • adjusting to a new home

Because ADAPTIL® is designed to help dogs feel calmer, it should reduce stress-related behaviors like licking, barking, howling, destroying property or having accidents. It is available through various veterinarians’ offices, PetSmart and Amazon.

There is also a version for cats called FELIWAY® for Cats that mimics the natural cat facial pheromone used by cats to mark their territory as safe.

3. Provide your dog with his own space.

Your dog might love to be around all the commotion! However, if he seems stressed out by all the new people around, I recommend you provide him with a quiet area to decompress.

For most dogs, this could be as simple as giving him time in his crate or on a dog bed in a quieter corner of the house. You’ll want to have the crate or bed in a place your dog is comfortable such as your bedroom.

Your dog might have an easier time relaxing if he has something to chew on such as a bully stick or a Kong stuffed with peanut butter. You could also play some relaxing music to help drown out the extra noise. And like I mentioned above, this would be a good time to use the ADAPTIL® Calm Home Diffuser or ADAPTIL® Travel spray.

4. Explain to friends and family how to interact with your dog.

Most people love animals and will want to interact with your dog. This is usually fine, but if your dog is somewhat shy around new people or if your dog is working on manners like not jumping, it’s best to tell people this in advance.

I find that people don’t really understand or follow through when I say, “Please ignore my dog.” I have to be very specific and say, “Please don’t pet him or look at him. Just pretend he’s not there and that will help him stay calmer.”

5. Exercise and routine.

Make time for your dog’s usual exercise routine. Heading out for a long walk or whatever you normally do will give your dog a way to decompress and burn energy.

The less pent-up energy your dog has, the easier it will be for him to relax!

Try to head out for a long walk each day before your visitors arrive and to continue your walking even when you have family staying with you.

Giveaway – Win ADAPTIL® for Dogs or FELIWAY® for Cats

Update: Congrats to Michele W. and Denise K.

Ceva Animal Health is giving away a sample of ADAPTIL® or FELIWAY® to two readers of That Mutt.

ADAPTIL Travel Spray for dogs dealing with anxiety

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment below to let me know why our pet could benefit from these products. Are the holidays stressful for the pets in your family?

The winners will get to choose if they want the dog or cat version and which product they prefer (the spray, the diffuser, etc.)

I’ll choose the winners at random on Tuesday Dec. 11 and announce them here plus notify the winners by email.

Could your dog or cat benefit from ADAPTIL® or FELIWAY®?

Let me know in the comments!

Please share this post if it will help a pet you know.


Related posts:

ADAPTIL for dogs scared of fireworks

Michele Wasserman

Wednesday 28th of November 2018

We have a 5 year old terrier mix that has terrible separation anxiety. He has to see me at all times or he gets very nervous. I just want him to be relaxed and happy!

Dina Schulman

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

Our 6 year-old Beagle, Charley, has terrible fear of thunderstorms. He wears a Thundershirt, but still shakes uncontrollably. I'm interested in seeing if Adaptil would help him.


Tuesday 27th of November 2018

I have a border collie with many areas of anxiety. I would love to try and use a natural calmer on her or diffused near her.

Denise Kloss

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

We are willing to try anything to calm our 6 yr. old Doodle. He continues to be very unruly with visitors.

Robin Guadagnini

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

Our 10 month old lab(ish) puppy has a few remaining stress issues, barking at neighbors walking, destructive chewing of insignificant things, and violently shaking pillows. These are reduced from all the time, to periods of time, and I am wondering if this would help make him the perfect puppy and get "no" out of his repeated vocabulary :)