Trainer reveals how to help your nervous dog cope with guests this Christmas, and it’s a game-changer!

Dog lying on couch wearing reindeer antlers looking nervous with man and child behind
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While some of our more gregarious and outgoing canine companions may love all the hustle and bustle that Christmas can bring, for other dogs, a house full of holiday guests can exacerbate issues like reactivity, anxiety, and nervousness. 

Anxiety in dogs can be heightened at Christmas time and can make the festive season stressful for pups that find large social gatherings difficult — which is why having a plan in place to help sensitive dogs stay calm is so important.

With that in mind, the team at the Calm Canine Academy have released an Instagram post where they share the simple thing you can do to help make these next few weeks as relaxing as possible for your anxious dog. 

So, arm yourself with a bag of long lasting dog chews (you'll need them for this!) and let's dive in...

If your dog struggles to cope with extra people in the house, the team at the Calm Canine Academy suggest setting up a Zen zone.

What exactly is a Zen zone we hear you ask?

Well, according to the Calm Canine Academy, a Zen zone is "a private space for your dog to hang out in that separates them from the hustle and bustle of events and busy family gatherings."

They go on to say that while every dog can benefit from having their own designated spot where they can retreat to and not be disturbed, they're particularly beneficial (and often necessary) for dogs who experience stress in busy social situations.

A Zen zone can also really help alleviate issues such as resource guarding in dogs and more general mischief-making, plus it's a useful way to calm down a dog that's become overtired or overstimulated.

"Zen zones can be made of crates, puppy pens, or baby gates," says the team at the Calm Canine Academy. "They should have a comfy bed, water, and signage to keep people away."

The team says that confinement can be stressful for some dogs, so it's important to introduce it slowly and in advance of when they'll be using it.

"Give them the opportunity to go in and out as they please at first without any pressure," they advise.

"Pair closing them in with a long duration chews, frozen projects and snuffle games. Only practice confinement when they have had their exercise needs met as this will set them up for success."

If your dog really hates confinement, the Calm Canine Academy recommends keeping your dog on a leash and near to you instead. You can also avoid social gatherings or having people stay if your dog isn't ready for that yet.

And if you don't have a dog but are thinking of getting one, our vet shares six reasons not to get a puppy for Christmas and why you should wait for the New Year instead. 

Kathryn Williams
Freelance writer

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has been a member of the PetsRadar family since it launched in 2020. Highly experienced in her field, she's driven by a desire to provide pet parents with accurate, timely, and informative content that enables them to provide their fur friends with everything they need to thrive. Kathryn works closely with vets and trainers to ensure all articles offer the most up-to-date information across a range of pet-related fields, from insights into health and behavior issues to tips on products and training. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with her family (which includes one super sassy cat), drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and reading all the books.