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The holidays are a busy time for many households. Friends and family come and go, deliveries are made to the door, delicious smells emanate from the kitchen, and a general happy hubbub means that something special is happening. Among those affected by these changes is the family dog.
While one dog may revel in the change of pace, another may find it a confusing, stressful time. Your normally placid dog may suddenly begin to exhibit unusual behaviors, such as stealing food, jumping up on people, or growling or snapping at visitors. As pack leader, you need to communicate and demonstrate to your dog that while his world may be different, you will continue to keep him safe and secure.
When an insecure dog-no matter his size or breed-encounters a new situation, he doesn't know what to do. If he feels threatened, he may react defensively with a snap or bite.
On the other hand, a well-socialized dog is comfortable meeting and being with others, both dogs and people. He has been introduced to a variety of situations and knows he and his pack have remained safe through them all.
The following are some tips to help calm your dog and keep everyone in the home safe during the active holiday season.
Dogs that live in a household with no children may not be comfortable when kids come to visit. The chaos created by youngsters like grandchildren will inherently raise the energy level in the house, causing the dog to worry or stress. Here are some ways to control such situations if your dog does not cope well with children.
Boundaries and security
Dogs need to have their own "home," a place where they feel secure and calm. If your dog doesn't already have a place of his own, create one for him.
Elderly dogs may not enjoy the extra hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Be mindful of keeping your older dog comfortable when his routine is disrupted.
Front door behaviors
A knock on the door can be a stimulating event for a dog, whether he sees it as fun or alarming. It is natural for him to want to know who the visitors are to determine if they are friendly or not. However, a dog that explodes with excitement at the sound of the doorbell is both annoying and unsafe-he may dash out the door and run into harm's way, he may get underfoot and become a trip hazard, he may knock people over, or he may become aggressive to the visitor.
By anticipating how your dog may react to new activities and visitors, you can help ensure that everyone-both two- and four-legged-has a fun and safe holiday season.