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The run-up to Christmas and New Year is a very exciting time for many children and adults alike, and the entire week between these two holidays is often quite a strange one for many of us, with no work, a break from the normal routine, and visits to and from friends and loved ones for socialisation and parties.
Dogs often very much enjoy the novelty of the season and all the strange sights, sounds and smells that it brings – as well as the opportunity to beg or steal a festive snack or two when everyone’s attention is diverted! However, this time of year can be quite stressful for many dogs, even ones that are outgoing and adventurous, and if your dog is prone to suffering from anxiety this can be a difficult time of year.
Even if you don’t actually celebrate New Year’s Eve yourself and try to keep to your dog’s normal routine, they will still be exposed to the general mood of the season and other people’s celebrations, such as fireworks and parties nearby. If your dog tends to get upset and anxious over the New Year’s period, this can both curtail your own enjoyment of the season and make looking after your dog harder than it could be – but there are things that you can do to help to prevent and ease your dog’s anxiety, and keep them on an even keel until everything returns to normal once again.
Read on to learn about five ways that you can help your dog’s anxiety over the New Year’s period.
Dogs find security and comfort in having a regular routine that lets them know when they can expect to be fed, walked, and have their other needs met, as well as being able to let them predict when their owners will be back from work and how their day is going to go.
The suspension of our own normal routines over Christmas and New Year is often unavoidable, such as when we have time off work to enjoy the season ourselves, but you should try to keep your dog’s normal routine as stable as possible as much as you can.
At a bare minimum you should try to ensure that your dog is fed, walked, taken out to do their business and put to bed at their usual times as much as possible, to try to reduce anxiety and stress for your dog at what can already be a confusing time of the year.
If you’re having friends over during the New Year period or even if you’re just planning to celebrate with your immediate family, parties, celebrations and a lot of activity can all be rather daunting for some dogs. Even highly personable and outgoing dogs that want to join in with everything will need a little break and some quiet time during the season.
Ensure that the area that your dog retreats to when they need a time out is available to them, and that it is kept calm and quiet and away from the main part of the household activity.
New Year’s Eve itself and sometimes a couple of days either side of it tends to mean that some of your neighbours and local community groups may be arranging fireworks displays and other events that are apt to generate sudden noise (and flashing lights) that may well alarm your dog.
Even many otherwise confident dogs will react badly to fireworks, and the unpredictable nature of when and where they are likely to go off can make managing your dog challenging.
It is a good idea to assume that both New Year’s Eve and a couple of days either side of it may mean fireworks going off from as soon as it gets dark until late at night, so plan ahead for this to minimise the effects that this has on your dog, and the stress it causes to them.
Try to keep to your dog’s normal routine when it comes to walks and exercise as much as possible, but also, plan ahead during the New Year’s period to ensure that you can provide for your dog’s need whilst avoiding unnecessary stress.
If you normally walk your dog after dark you might wish to think about altering this to walk them a little earlier so that you’re not likely to be out when fireworks start going off, and to plan your routes to avoid areas that are likely to be very busy or stressful for your dog.
If your dog gets very anxious over the New Year’s period, the way that you plan for this and manage their environment and routine is what will have the greatest effect on how your dog copes. However, you might also want to think about using some calming aids such as a pheromone collar to keep your dog calmer, and potentially, food supplements and other aids to help to take the edge off your dog’s anxiety.
Speak to your vet in advance if you are considering giving your dog calming supplements, and to get advice and guidance on how best to manage and care for your dog during stressful times like the New Year’s period.
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