Dogs thrive on routines and daily schedules; altering these can be stressful on your dog.  Here’s how to maintain your dog’s routines to keep him or her happy.

The holiday season is upon us, and that likely means you’re busier than ever – out and about attending parties, shopping, and perhaps you’re traveling or will soon have guests in town.

And what does that mean for your dog? His or her daily routine will probably change along with yours. That being said, it’s the perfect time for a reminder that dogs love routine.

Naturally, pups enjoy new adventures, fresh scents to sniff, and meeting different people and dogs; however, they still thrive on routine. A consistent daily routine that includes time outside for a walk or run, playtime with you, and a regular schedule for eating, sleeping and such gives your dog the structure he or she needs to feel secure and relaxed.

Changes in Routine Can Be Stressful

And when your dog’s routine changes, he or she can feel stressed. Stress in dogs takes all forms, and it’s often misjudged as bad behavior. Your dog may nibble on your new winter boots, or perhaps she’ll whine and bark when you’re away (and only the neighbors know it), or maybe your dog will leave you ‘special’ present, a gift you certainly will not be re-gifting! There are still other behaviors, such as irritability, excessive self-licking and loss of appetite.

Tips to help alleviate stress your dog may experience during the holiday season:

  • It almost goes without saying: do your best to stick to your dog’s normal routine.
  • Set aside quality one-on-one time each day with your dog, even it’s less time than usual – your dog will expect it and look forward to it. You will too and it will help to soothe your holiday stress!
  • If you find you’re missing your regular pup-person exercise sessions, consider hiring a dog walker or asking a friend to sub in for you. Exercise will keep your dog calm and relaxed.
  • If your dog is spending more time alone than usual, keep him entertained while you’re away. Leave him a stuffed Kong surprise, a new chew toy, or hide treats around your home for him to discover.

Please comment on this tip and share your ideas for nurturing your dog during the holiday season!

The Scoop:

Read more on this topic in the article “Stress and the Importance of Routine for Dogs” found on the Georgia SPCA site.

Thank you to numberstumper on flickr for the photo of Ant.