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Staying Calm During the Holidays – Use Your Nose

by Dennis ODonnell on April 29, 2020

For many dogs, holidays mean anxiety.

The routine changes, new people come in and out of the house, and if the family is stressed–shopping! company! cooking and cleaning!–that stress trickles down to the family pet.

Help your pup stay calm during the holidays by harnessing his greatest asset: his nose.

Hide and Seek

If you have a few spare minutes, ask your dog to wait in a specific spot, then you hide somewhere in your house! Call your pup, and wait until he sniffs you out–most likely with lots of wags and licks. Short on time? Hide treats for him to locate on his own. He’ll get mental and nasal exercise while having fun!

Sniff Walks

During your regular daily walk, allow your dog to set the pace and–if it’s safe–the direction. He’ll follow his nose around the neighborhood, which helps him exercise his natural instincts and turns the regular stroll into an enriching experience. Bonus: He’ll come home more tired than if you just take the same perfunctory path. A great idea for right before company arrives!

“Wanna smell?”

Offer your pup new and novel things to explore with his sniffer. If a Thanksgiving guest brings you a bouquet of flowers, hold it down for your pup to explore. Setting up a pumpkin centerpiece? Allow your dog’s nose to scope the items before you set up (just be sure to keep a tight grip so he doesn’t also try to taste-test). Use a verbal cue like “wanna smell?” so that your dog gets used to the idea of sniffing novel items. We’ve done this for years with my dog, Cooper, and even our cat has caught onto the fun!

Whether you’re hiding treats around the house, feeding with a Snuffle Mat, or allowing your dog to guide your walk, giving his nose free reign will help him feel happier and calmer during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

BTW, to glimpse the full capacity of your dog’s schnoz, check out The Secret History of Your Dog’s Nose and to find other ways to keep your pup’s nose working hard, check out A Nose for Work.

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