'Tis the Season to be stress free!
‘TIS THE SEASON TO BE STRESS FREE
Although Christmas 2020 looks set to be less busy than other years, it is still the most stressful time of the year. This can apply to our pets even more so, as they have no point of reference to make sense of the festive madness.
So, what can we do to help our pets through the Christmas season?
Make sure they still have their usual amount of exercise. Shopping, decorating and festive activities can make huge demands on our already precious time, however, it’s important that our furry friends’ favourite stress relieving activity doesn’t take a hit. Burning off those stresses with a brisk walk in the fresh air is beneficial to both ends of the lead!
Section off a space where your pet can easily choose to avoid the mayhem. If your pet doesn’t already have a crate or area to retire to, now is the time to introduce one and spend the next few weeks building up value to this area. Then when things get too much or busy over Christmas, they already have a place to go that makes them feel relaxed and happy.
3) Adding value
You can add value to your pet’s space by ensuring they enjoy treats in this area. Provide meaty bones (if usually given) and treats such as Natural Instinct’s Beef Jerky, and make sure they are left completely alone to enjoy them. If you’re providing bones, ensure you supervise your dog at all times. You can read our guide on feeding bones here.
Christmas usually prompts an increase in the number of visitors as family and friends join together. Perhaps not as prevalent this year due to current restrictions (although we know deliveries have increased!), it is always helpful to prepare your pet for knocks at the door or doorbell ringtones.
You can do this by recording your doorbell or door knocker on your phone and playing it at random times. When the bell rings, ask your pet to go to his dedicated space and reward with his favourite treats, chews or toys. By practicing this behaviour, when the door does go with a visitor, the postman or a delivery, your pet won’t mind retiring to their space as they know good things happen here.
5) Calm your pets
Even the most confident of animals can get overwhelmed at this time of year, so take a look at the products on offer to help reassure and calm your pets. For dogs, take a look at the brilliant Adaptil collars and for cats, try the Feliway Optimum. There are also some wonderful sprays and wipes available from Pet Remedy. All of these products utilise naturally occurring pheromones or natural oils to help calm pets.
6) Avoid festive treats and leftovers
Lastly, watch out for those festive treats that can be toxic to pets like dried fruits and chocolates. Keep them well out of reach and stock up on pet friendly healthy alternatives. This year, there are lots of lovely pet gifts available like Natural Instinct’s Christmas Crackers for cats and dogs!
Written by Animal Behaviourist, Kirsten Dillon