It’s the festive season! Spending time with family. Eating and drink as much as you want. A few days vacation. And a time to forget about your worries for a while.
With so much going on, it’s understandable that separation anxiety training might not be top of mind over the holidays. But, despite the festivities, it’s best not to forget about it entirely. Here are some of our tips for keeping you and him on track over this busy period.
1. Stick to a similar routine
Anxious dogs aren’t the best when it comes to changes in routine.
Even though your schedule will be turned on its head over the holidays, try to keep some things the same for your dog. He will benefit from walks, feeding and play happening at similar times. You’re obviously going to need to switch things up a little, but any consistency will be an enormous plus.
2. Go wild for the puzzles and enrichment
It’s darker, it’s colder and your schedule is packed. It might be hard to find the time to give your dog as much exercise as he’s used to. Enter puzzle feeders. Giving him his meals out of a feeder exercises his brain.
These brain teasers come into their own when you have guests round and the table is creaking with holiday food. And since lots of seasonal goodies can be bad for dogs, LINK a food toy can help steer him safely away.
If walks become shorter, play with your dog inside or in the yard. Short, high-intensity games can wear a dog out as much as a longer leash walk Here are some ideas from our blog about play.
3. Get some help with dog-sitting
If your dog walker is on vacation or the if the doggie daycare is running reduced hours, managing absences could be a challenge. But, look into doing trades with people who have time over the holidays.
Trade sits with friends with kids
The holiday season is a wonderful time for families with small children. But, even the most dedicated parents can find themselves going a little stir crazy.
If you have friends with children, why not offer to take their kids to the cinema, museum or the playground. Or, have them over to play at yours.
In return, you could “bank” a dog sit. Your friends could look after your dog for a few hours another day.
Most university students will be off for the holidays, but still needing to study. Why not post on social media or on a neighbourhood networking group offering your house as a quiet place to study? Throw in a fully stocked fridge, Wi-Fi, and your cute dog, and you’ll have them lining up.
4. See what Santa might bring
If it’s not too late, you could ask Santa for a security camera or a webcam. A camera is the surefire way to work out how your dog does when you’re not home. I know a webcam is not the most exciting gift you’ll ever receive, but you’ll come to find it indispensable.
Other stocking fillers might include a book on separation anxiety. Malena Demartini has an excellent, in-depth book, which is packed with valuable advice. Another two of our favourite separation anxiety books are “Don’t Leave Me” by Nicole Wilde and “I’ll Be Home Soon” by Patricia McConnell.
These books might not grip you the way a bestselling thriller would, but they’re wonderful resources for the separation anxiety owner.
5. Keep the separation exercises going
If you’re working with a trainer on a separation anxiety desensitization plan, see if you can keep things going with a few practice absence exercises. You don’t have to go full out, but ask your trainer for a realistic number of plans that you know will be achievable.
6. And breathe…
Don’t worry if your dog’s separation anxiety isn’t a priority this week. You’ve got a lot going on. But if you only do one thing, try to keep him under his threshold by not leaving him. And make a deal with him to start working on his separation anxiety when things calm down in the New Year.
Contact us if you’d like to find out about working with a separation anxiety trainer. And if you don’t want to wait until the New Year we’re happy to chat sooner!