The last two months of the year are full of holidays from Diwali to Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas to Kwanzaa and many more. Happy Holidays, indeed! Having people over for celebrations and parties can be stressful both for you in dealing with everything that comes with hosting and for your dog in having all these new people in their home. You want to ensure that your dog is equipped to handle all your guests. Here are some of the ways you can help your dog prepare for holiday guests.
Your dog’s manners are essential always, but especially when you plan to have people over. You don’t want your guests to be bothered by your dog jumping up on them or being overly excitable. You also don’t want your dog going after human treats or trinkets. Reinforcing basic manners and commands are an excellent way to prepare your dog for visitors.
Emphasizing the importance of “sit” and “stay” and “leave it/drop it” will set your dog up for success. You want your dog to know they’re doing something right when you give them a command, so positive reinforcement will make your dog realize what you asked them to do is good and make them more inclined to listen.
Different dogs can handle different degrees of interactions. While it’s important that your dog is well-behaved around guests, you also want your guests to respect your dog’s boundaries. Especially if your friends and family aren’t dog people, they might not know the signs that your dog is bothered by something they do. Establishing boundaries with your guests will help your dog be more comfortable with them, since they’ll know to leave your furbaby alone if they don’t want to be interacted with and what sorts of things are acceptable.
Dogs can get overwhelmed by having guests over, especially if you have a quiet, introverted pup. Make sure that you give your dog a quiet space they can retreat to if they need it. You can prepare their crate in a bedroom or some other space with a closed door and supply them with toys, treats, and calming music to keep them occupied. You may also consider putting a sign on the door telling your guests not to disturb, so that your pup’s quiet spot is safe and guests don’t mistake the closed door for a bathroom.
Having toys, puzzles, chews, and food-stuffed toys on hand can help your dog stay occupied while you are visiting with your guests and also provide a way to bond, if your dog and your guests are comfortable with it.
The more pent-up energy your puppy has, the more rambunctious they’re likely to be as soon as your doorbell starts ringing. Taking your dog on a good walk will help burn off that excess energy, as can playing with them and mental stimulation, like sniffing interesting new spaces. A dog that is regularly exercised is happier in general - exercising your dog during the holidays will help your puppy not just stay happier and healthier, but also make the holiday commotion easier to manage.
Having guests over means lots of knocking at your door and people your dog isn’t familiar with over. In order to prepare your dog, it’s best to practice, so that they are used to the noises come the day of your event. You can do this through having a friend or family member knock on your door, and reiterating sit and stay commands with increasing frequency until knocks at your door no longer cause your dog to go crazy. Making knocking noises until your dog realizes that that isn’t a sound to get excited over will make when your guests arrive much more manageable.
The more you practice people arriving and commands to control your dog before you have people over, the smoother the actual experience will go. This will work not just to prepare your dog, but also you, so that you notice what your dog is up to and are prepared to intervene whenever necessary.
Though the holidays are busy, your dog still needs their routine. They still need time, love, attention, and exercise. If you are finding it difficult to do everything you need to while also ensuring that your dog gets everything they need, you may consider delegating. You may hire a grocery delivery service so that you can get your puppy’s walk in, or ask a dog-walker to come while you prepare your home.
The holidays are a crazy time, but your dog still needs that stability in their life, and it’s essential that you find ways to give it to them.
For more information about how to prepare your furbaby for holiday guests, contact us at Little Teton Doodles today! We’ll happily share additional tips and tricks with you to make the holidays happy and bright for you, your pup, and your guests.