The holidays are here and that means guests! It’s fun to be the host and invite family and friends into your home. At least, for most of us. But an unruly, overexcited or anxious dog can definitely put a damper on the holiday spirit. In fact, maybe you have refused to host other years because Fido is not just up for it. Here are some tips to get your dog through the holidays in a way you will all enjoy.
First, Respect Your Dog’s Personality
If you have a dog that is shy and anxious around people, a giant gathering with lots of excited people is probably not the best scenario to work on his trust issues. Dogs like this don’t want to be in a crowded gathering. Better to put him in a quiet room with one of his meaty bones or his Stay Loyal meal in a frozen Kong, than further build his anxiety. He will thank you for it.
If you have a dog that is just overly excited to say hello to everyone or just has no manners – the kind that may knock over tiny Tim to grab his dinner – then you have two options. One, this type of dog can also be put in a quiet room with something to occupy him, no harm done! Two, follow the below tips to let him be part of the fun without ruining it.
Regardless of personality or which option you are going with, be sure your dog gets some good exercise the week before and definitely the day of the party to burn off some of that energy – excited, nervous, or otherwise.
For The Dog that is Joining the Party, Here are Some Tips
Don’t forget to exercise! Also, brush up on any behaviours he knows including Sit, Leave It, Stay and Off (“not jumping up” – some use Down for his cue) that your dog knows. These will all be helpful for when guests arrive.
It is best if your dog starts off in a separate room or his crate when guests arrive. Arrival of people is the most exciting time – for everyone, not just the dog. Your dog can sense all the excitement and it just makes his manners worse. Give him a nice bone or food toy to play with, and keep him out of the way until everyone is in and settled. This also gives you an opportunity to tell your guests the “house rules” for the dog – such as no scraps from the table, don’t let him jump on you, etc. and any cues he knows – Sit, Stay, Off, etc.
After everyone has settled in, bring your dog in on leash, to avoid a mad dash at people. Ask him to sit before he gets to greet everyone. He may not stay in the sit, but at least he is using his brain, focusing on training and try to not maul your guests with love. Reward him for being good (i.e not jumping, lunging, barking, etc.) by allowing your guests to pet him only when those four paws are on the floor.
If he gets too excited and just can’t handle himself, lead him back to the other room or crate and wait for him to settle again. This is another reason you keep him on leash – an overly excited dog doesn’t always respond to the Come command and is hard to catch.
If he’s being good, have him drag the leash. This will allow you to grab him quickly should the need arise – say he is about to walk over a toddler or is starting to jump on people again. (Stepping on the leash right where it reaches the floor is a very effective management trick that makes it impossible for your dog to jump up).
Things can get exciting again when you gather for the holiday dinner. After all, now there are new people and delicious smelling food – can you really blame your dog for wanting some? Again, this is a great time to put your dog in a separate room or in his crate with his dinner, a toy he likes to chew on, or a meaty bone. That way, your guests can eat in peace and you don’t have to worry about kids feeding the dog chocolate.
Following these tips will help your dog make a good impression during the holidays.