Holiday Pet Etiquette

The holiday season is quickly approaching, and that can mean plenty of visitors to your house. The question is, how do you keep your dog calm and behaving appropriately during the festivities? Creating a preparedness plan for your dog prior to the season can help make holiday get-togethers less stressful for you, your dog and your guests.

There are a few simple steps that can be critical in order to ensure a safe holiday season when visitors are over. However, some of these things take time for your dog to learn, so start early and be prepared for when the door bell rings and when your guests begin to arrive.

Keep it simple, just remember WINTERTIME and you and your dog can safely get through the holiday season.

Walk. Even with company over, your dog needs to go outside. Take them out for frequent potty breaks. An extra long walk before guests arrive can also burn off some of that extra energy.

Interactive Toys. Have plenty of toys on hand to keep your dog busy. A frozen stuffed Kong or a stuffed Monster Ball could be the perfect way for your dog to stay busy while guests are over.

No Tolerance. This goes for both humans and dogs alike. If you tell people specific things about issues your dog may have, be sure to enforce your rules. As for your pet, you are your dog’s voice for the night, so it’s your job to speak for them and keep them comfortable.

Think Ahead. Just as you want to think ahead as you plan a party, you should have a plan in place for your pooch. Know what to expect from your pet and how to react to their behavior in advance.

Exercise. Your dog needs to get more exercise than usual leading up to a big event. Exercising your dog will keep them calmer with the arrival of your guests. This could be as simple at taking them for longer walks or playing a long game of fetch before the party.

Reward. Reward your dog for anything good they do. This would mean keeping approved treats handy so your guests can reward your pet as well. Put out treats for your dog that visitors are allowed to give them, that way they will not be tempted to feed them table food or scraps.

Time Away. Remember that your dog doesn’t need to be out the entire time when guest are over. Create a nice spot for them in a quiet room, with their crate or bed. This gives them a place to go when they are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Soft music in the background can also help drown out the noise of visitors.

Identification Tags. The holidays tend to see a spike in dogs that run away from home. With guests arriving and the door constantly opening and closing, it is easy for a dog to sneak out unnoticed, no matter their size. Make sure your dog is wearing up-to-date ID tags in the event they get out.

Management. This is important, be sure to manage the behaviors you haven’t had time to train. For example, if a party guest is coming over who has a bad hip, and your dog likes to jump, have your dog in a crate or enclosed space when that guest arrives in order to prevent problems.

Etiquette during Greetings. Not all guests want to be bombarded with a jumping dog when they enter your house. Teaching your dog to go to their spot or playing the “four on the floor” game with them can help make your dog’s greetings proper. If you have a dog that jumps, try “four on the floor,” it’s simple, you can practice this with your dog long before guests arrive. Ignore your dog when they are jumping, once they have all four of their paws on the floor you can reward them with a treat. Have your guests do the same thing with your dog when they arrive.

Just remember WINTERTIME and you, your dog and your holiday house guests can have a comfortable, safe and relaxed holiday season.