Veterinarian-written / veterinarian-approved articles for your dog.

Fighting Holiday Stress with Canine Playtime

Use interactive play to reduce your dog’s stress.

Some dogs love the holidays, reveling in the extra hub-bub, more humans to love coming through the house, and the air of excitement.

But for other dogs, the holidays can be stressful. Some dogs dislike the changes in the household, like decorations and a different schedule kept by the humans, visitors. Even a heightened stress level in the humans in the household can cause our dogs stress.

Luckily, there are some ways to combat any holiday stress your dog may have, including:

  • Adaptil. DAP mimics a pheromone released by dogs that calms them. DAP diffusers and sprays help relieve stress in some dogs. Learn more: "How to Cope with Canine Anxiety and Fear by Using Adaptil(TM)".
  • Creating a quiet space. If your dog is stressed by holiday hub-bub and visitors, create a quiet space for them to escape. Equip it with a soft dog bed, food and water, and some classical music.
  • Keep the schedule as normal as possible. Dogs experience more stress when their feeding, walking, and grooming schedule is disrupted. Do what you can during the holidays to keep all that the same as usual.
  • Playtime is critical for stress-reduction in dogs.

Playtime Fights Canine Stress

Play, for dogs, involves exercise, and that helps blow off steam and decrease stress. It also probably releases feel-good hormones in the brain, like it does for humans.

Playtime has the added benefit of giving your dog time with you, which is bonding and stress-relieving for you both.

Best Ways to Play with Your Dog

To some extent, dogs are individuals in how they best like to play, and you know your dog best. But, in general, here are the ways most dogs like to play and get the most benefit from it.

  • Fetch. Fetch is great play for dogs for many reasons. There's lots of exercise involved, it can trigger the predator drive which keeps your dog's mind sharp, and it's great for bonding with you.
  • Tug of war. Not all dogs should play tug-of-war (learn more here: "Tug of War") but for those that can, it's great for stress relief.
  • Going for a walk or run. This is the ultimate in exercise, which can relieve stress for both you and your dog while you spend time together. If your dog is off-leash, be sure you're in an area where it's legal to do so and that your dog responds well to your verbal commands. Learn more: "The Benefits of Walking Your Dog."

Learn more here: "Games You Should Be Playing with Your Dog."

Regardless of which type of play you choose, the interaction between your dog and you is best for stress reduction.

Toys for Interactive Play with Your Dog

There are several types of toys that many dogs love and which can be used to reduce your dog's stress through play.

After a play session, it's good to put most toys away, so your dog doesn't become bored with them. It's also a good idea to have several of each type of toy and rotate through them once you learn which your dog likes best.

New Toys

Tug Toys

  • Follow-Me Toys from Knots of Fun are perfect for hours of play with your dog. They're durable, machine washable, and made in the USA of 100% Polartec Fleece. Follow Me Toys are non-toxic, can be frozen for use with teething puppies, and float in the pool.

Fetch Toys

  • Sailz is a great flying toy, light and fast, with a hole in the center to make it easier for your dog to pick it up. It's non-toxic, floats, and is made from recycled, ocean-bound plastic. You can also wash it in the dishwasher, so it doesn't get stinky and dirty.
  • Zisc is now available in a cool holiday red color. It's made in the USA, non-toxic, washable, and floats. It also flies far and fast, and it's made from soft materials, so it's easy on your dog's mouth. It's also available in small and large sizes, so you can choose the right one for your dog.

So, don't forget your dog this holiday season. Stock up on great toys, so you can both play and alleviate stress.

Follow Me Toys from Knots of Fun Sailz Zisc

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with

Notice: Ask-a-Vet is an affiliated service for those who wish to speak with a veterinary professional about their pet's specific condition. Initially, a bot will ask questions to determine the general nature of your concern. Then, you will be transferred to a human. There is a charge for the service if you choose to connect to a veterinarian. Ask-a-Vet is not manned by the staff or owners of, and the advice given should not delay or replace a visit to your veterinarian.