Holidays can be really stressful for people. Friends and relatives dropping by, house and yard preparations, making sure everyone has what they need and all that food prep! These things can all combine to make a particularly difficult time for our dogs. Whether that means they are getting into more things because everyone is distracted, they are barking more at the doorbell because it is much more active, or maybe they are starting to beg and counter surf more because your cousin Steve thinks it is hilarious to feed them from the table! The holidays are hectic enough as it is! Let us help you make a plan that will guide you and your pup to holiday success. Follow these tips to make your holiday gathering as fun, safe and stress free as possible.
1. Know your dog! If you know your dog is uncomfortable with people in the house, make sure you have a plan. Have plenty of Kong’s in the freezer ready for your pup. Set up a safe space for them where no one is allowed into that room, crank their favorite tunes, shut off the lights and let them be. Check in when you can and try to do some work with them if possible. If it isn’t possible, that’s fine too! There will be another time to train when you are less busy and distracted. Alternatively, if you know you have a dog that gets overly excited with company around, assign a family member to be in charge of handling that. Have them keep Fluffy on leash and off the guests. Work with your dog and allow them to calm down before giving them their freedom. A Kong and a quiet room can be a great tool for this as well!
2. Make sure your family knows your dog’s needs and your desires. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, don’t be afraid to really stress that to your guests. Feel free to exaggerate if you think that is what it will take! If you are working on jumping, make sure people know you are sticking to the rules. When you hear, “Oh I don’t mind!” reply, “I understand that but we are really working on it.” If your dog is uncomfortable around people in the home, don’t let people convince you to let your dog loose with the family when they “Oh, all dog’s love me!” You can respond with, “Well it is very cute that you think that but Jake and Louise said to not listen to you.” Your actions have consequences Cousin Steve!
3. Create an exercise or enrichment plan for the morning of. Wearing your dog out before company arrives can go a really long way! If you don’t have it scheduled into your day beforehand though, it is really likely that it will slip from everyone’s mind or time will just run out. Make a plan the day before. Write down the time, the exercise plan, who will be doing it and for how long. If you don’t have the time to exercise them yourself, try reaching out to Dog Walker in your area. Make sure you reach out early because the holidays are very busy in the dog service world! You could also consider taking your dog to daycare the day before to take the edge off. You want your dog tired, but not so tired they are cranky. Keep that in mind when you are choosing what exercise they are doing.
4. Supervise Supervise Supervise! At the end of the day, the way your dog behaves, the trouble they do or do not get into is up to you. As established before, your Cousin Steve should not be the one left to supervise Fluffy. Dammit Steve! When you are unable to be there to actively supervise, it is probably a good idea to have Fluffy sequestered, with something delicious to keep them occupied of course.
Holidays can be stressful for all kinds of reasons but your dog’s behavior and safety shouldn’t have to be one of them! Need more help? Join our Homework Club for all types of training tips, fun challenges and more. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for biweekly videos, blogs and more! Have a great Holiday Season!