Successful Holiday Gatherings with Dogs

Are you hosting a get together this holiday season? Make it the best one
yet with Lucky Paws top tips for having a wildly successful holiday gathering with your dog behaving like a gentleman (or lady).

A tired dog is a good dog

I know it may feel like you couchdogdon’t have time to exercise your dog before your guests arrive, but you will be happy you took the time to do so when you see how much it improves your dogs behavior. In the days leading up to your event, be sure your dog is getting LOTS of exercise. Trips to daycare or the dog park, lots of fetch games or play with a tail teaser. The day of the big event, exercise your dog that morning, then give him mental activities to do throughout the day such as puzzle toys or search games. Additionally, right before or right as the guests are arriving, set up a big search game so your dog is rooting around the house for treats you’ve hidden (ideally in areas that won’t interfere with guests).

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Make the crate great!

When hosting a officegathering, sometimes keeping an eye on your dog is difficult to say the least. When your not watching he may be stealing grandmas ham! When you are busy, keep your dog happy in his crate.

Everyday between now and the big day, at least 3 times per day put something SUPER yummy in your dogs crate, but don’t put your dog in. What?! Yes, I said don’t put your dog in. Instead let him sniff and paw at the crate trying to get in for several minutes before finally letting him in and allowing him to have the yummy item. Close him in the crate to eat it, then let him out before he is done with the yummy item. At this point pick up the yummy item and do the same thing with it again later. If your dog guards the yummy item, let him finish it in his crate before letting him out.

When the big day rolls around, your dog won’t mind spending time in the crate with a stuffed bone or kong. To help your dog feel even more content in the crate, make sure the crate is in a familiar location where your dog is used to being crated, and ideally in a room far enough from the hustle and bustle to allow your dog to settle. Turning on a radio, tv or fan can help drown out some of the noise he hears.

When you have some time to be able to focus on your dog’s behavior with your guests, you can go ahead and bring him out. This is a great time to work on any behaviors you’ve been wanting to address with guests present. If needed, put a leash on your dog (especially puppies) to help them be more successful!

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Take some time to remind your dog of the great skills he already knows! Leave It, Greeting Skills (not jumping up), Out (of the kitchen or other room), boundary training at the front door, and no counter surfing rules are all important when food & guests are around.

At the Door Greetings

If you haven’t had much time to work on your dog greeting behavior at the door, a few simple tips can go a long way.

  • When greeting a guest at the door, have your dog leashed and have several high value treats in your hand (think cheese or hot dogs) to help keep your dogs attention, and reward him for good behavior.
  • You can also stand on your dogs leash, giving him just enough room to stand comfortably. This will prevent him from jumping on your guests.

Do you have a reactive, fearful or anxious dog?

Sometimes holiday gatherings can be a real drag for dogs who struggle with fear, anxiety, and aggression. In these cases, if you don’t have a quiet place in your home your dog can feel at ease (such as a crate or bedroom with a kong or bone), sometimes it is better to have your dog sitter watch your dog, or even crate your dog at a friend, family members or neighbors house where things are quiet and where your dog already feels at ease.

Alternatively, if you are in the process of modifying your dogs fear or reactivity toward people, this could be a good opportunity to do some behavior modification, but consult with your trainer before doing so to help make sure it is a successful training experience.

Need Training Help?

Need some help with some manners training, or maybe you aren’t sure how to handle your fearful, reactive or anxious dogs when you have guests. We can help! Give us a call (612-388-9656) or send us an email (heather@luckypawsmn.com) anytime!

http://www.luckypawsmn.com

 

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