How to Help Your Dog Feel Comfortable with Holiday Guests

This post is sponsored by CEVA Animal Health, makers of ADAPTIL® for dogs. All statements and opinions are entirely our own. As always, we only share products that we use with our own pets!

Let’s be honest: the holidays, for all their fun, can be stressful on us all. The changes in our schedules, the expectations of the season, and the gathering of friends and family can lead to anxiety–for us and for our dogs.

Whether they pick up on our own stress or they feel stress of their own due to the arrival of relatives and the changes to their cherished routine, our dogs can definitely feel holiday stress. This year we’re especially aware of it since this is Barli’s first real holiday season (last year he was picked up by animal control in mid-December and spent the holidays at the shelter).

We’ll be keeping holiday decorating to a minimum and up out of reach (ornaments = dog toys, in Barli’s eyes!) but we’ll have several other potentially stressful holiday situations for him to face including visitors in our home and a visit to the nursing home to see family members for the holidays. Whether you’re welcoming guests for the holidays or visiting on the road, we’ve got some easy tips to make sure all is calm, all is bright for your dog’s holidays.

Keeping Your Dog Calm on the Road for Holiday Visits

As I’ve mentioned before, four of John’s relatives reside in a nursing home in South Texas, about a three-hour drive from our home. Barli always wears an ADAPTIL® Calm On-The-Go Collar; its calming signals help Barli feel relaxed in the car and in new situations by copying the natural, canine-appeasing pheromone that dogs have known since birth. When we first adopted then five-month-old Barli, he wore the ADAPTIL®Junior collar to receive the comforting messages like those he received from his mother–but he’s since graduated to the ADAPTIL® Calm On-The-Go Collar.

Another option, whether you’re making the trip to visit relatives for the holidays–or just headed out on a drive to see the holiday lights–is to spray your dog’s coat or harness (before you put it on him) with ADAPTIL®Travel Spray. Let the bandana, harness or coat dry first then place it on your dog to help soothe any holiday jitters.

Keeping Your Dog Calm on a Holiday Visit

For Barli and Tiki, much of their family visiting means a trip to the nursing home to see John’s relatives. Barli’s working toward hopefully becoming a nursing home therapy dog in the future because he really enjoys the visits–and is calm and quiet as he visits. I really think that one reason he is so relaxed at the nursing home is because he is wearing his ADAPTIL® Calm On-The-Go Collar throughout the visit.

Also, before we start the visit, we take the dogs on a long walk, helping to burn off energy that’s built up during the car ride. Before you arrive at your holiday destination, plan a stop at a park to give your dog some exercise before asking him to sit quietly for a visit.

Keeping Your Dog Calm When Guests are in Your Home

And what about when the holiday visit takes place in your home?

You’ll have more options for calming products in your home–and you can use multiple products without concern. Before your guests arrive, plug in the ADAPTIL® Calm Home Diffuser to help start reassuring your dog that all’s well. Your human guests won’t smell the diffuser, which covers about 700 square feet (so typically we plug it in the area where Barli and Tiki hang out the most).  The clinically-proven, veterinarian-recommended diffuser continuously provides soothing Dog Appeasing Pheromones to help both Tiki and Barli feel secure and comfortable when guests–even those with whom they’re not familiar–arrive.

When your guests arrive, make calm greetings a goal (something we’ve been working on in Barli’s classes). I love going for a walk with guests and the dogs as soon as company arrive (although I realize we’re fortunate with our temperate weather). Getting everyone moving together puts your dog at ease, and I think it gets the visit off on the right foot, so to speak!

Once everyone’s inside, create a calm place for your dog to settle down and relax. This can be on a dog bed in a family room or, if your dog needs some quiet time, alone in a far bedroom. We use the ADAPTIL®Travel Spray to mist the dog beds and provide that calming reassurance. Barli also has a favorite plush toy that I mist for him to snuggle.

Whether your dog then settles down for a nice nap, as in Tiki’s case, or, like Barli, for a chewing session with a stuffed treat dispensing toy, you can know that your dog is comfortable and relaxed–and you can turn your attention to your guests for a while.

This season is all about creating family memories–including those with our furry family members. With a little pre-planning, you’ll be humming “all is calm” as you enjoy the holidays with dog–and your guests.

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