Worried your dog will find the holidays stressful? Try out this expert's tips to help your canine stay calm this Christmas

Two young girls surrounded by Christmas presents hugging their dog
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Christmas is fast approaching, and we’re coming to the thick of the holiday season. It’s an exciting time of year, but it’s one that can be stressful and intense, too – and that goes for everybody. 

While you might be stressing over what to buy the relative who always says they don’t want anything, or how to juggle childcare over the school holidays, your dog will have their own challenges to contend with. While they might be looking forward to some new toys and some of the best dog treats, there might be new dogs to get used to or long car journeys coming up. 

But fortunately, Juliana DeWillems, owner and head trainer at JW Dog Training, has offered some tips to help support our pups through the festive period. 

“Expect a change in behavior,” she says, as disruptions in your pup’s usual routine and environment can cause your pup to behave in ways they wouldn't usually – this may be due to stress, or simply just excitement. 

But if you know that your dog’s routine will be changing, perhaps if you’re traveling to visit relatives, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Think about what will best help your canine cope with the changes, and if you are traveling in the next couple of weeks, DeWillems says, “Pack any supplies your dog would benefit from, and proactively think about how to set up the environment to support your dog.”

You might decide to bring something with a familiar smell along with you, to help your dog feel more secure, as well as some of their favorite toys and treats – this way, the environment won’t feel entirely new. Here’s how to travel with a dog more generally, for further advice. 

If you’re having guests this festive season, be sure to set boundaries around your dog if you think you need to, and advocate for your dog. Maybe you have relatives who think they know best, but you know your dog best. Your uncle or cousin might be a seasoned dog parent, but you know your pup – you can tell when they’ve had enough interaction for a while, or when they need a walk, for example. 

It’s a good idea to give your dog somewhere they can go when they need some time alone away from the noise and hustle and bustle of everybody. Granted, this might be easier in your home than if you’re visiting relatives, but even then it’s worth asking your host if there’s somewhere your pup can get some peace and quiet. 

The holiday season can be a funny time of year, but if you’re concerned about your pup and their behavior, here are three reasons why your dog may be behaving weirdly.

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle, health, culture, and pets, and he has five years' experience in journalism. He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' Golden Retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.