How to Prepare Your Dog for Holiday Guests
The holidays are a great time for humans, and they’re often even better with family and friends. However, it can be an unsettling time for our dogs and it’s important not to forget about your pup in the hustle and bustle of activities. Here are a few ways to help prepare your dog for holiday guests:
1. Know Your Dog’s Personality
Knowing your dog’s personality is important in any situation, but keep this in mind as you plan holiday festivities. Some dogs prefer quieter, more low-key environments while others thrive in the action. Certain breeds that thrive on being with people may even be more bothered by not being allowed to interact with people.
There are some dogs that are okay with adults but nervous around children. Other dogs adore kids and will appreciate a playmate for a while. Make sure you assess the situation and adjust as things change, too.
2. Create a Safe Space for Your Dog
Dogs are pretty territorial and having guests entering their home can be threatening to them. Even familiar people can be overwhelming in times like this. This can bring on anxiety or worse, aggression.
You might think crating your dog is a good option, but this might bring on even more anxiety. Consider creating a safe and cozy environment in a room a bit removed from the action for them to retreat to if they get overwhelmed.
Have a few toys and other items your dog likes to keep them entertained and to feel safe. Make sure your guests are aware and know the room is off-limits. Not only will your dog appreciate having the space to retreat to, but you and your guests will also appreciate the happier, more relaxed dog if they choose to return and interact. Plus, this can help keep your dog safe during the holidays.
3. Work on Training
Something that helps dogs feel safe and secure in unfamiliar environments is consistent training. But, even if your dog is well trained, it’s helpful in the weeks leading up to the holidays to brush up on important commands.
If your dog is prone to swiping treats or foods from counters, take extra time to train them to avoid this behavior. This will keep your food safe and your pup healthy. Introducing too many new commands will be overwhelming for your dog.
But, even simply brushing up on basic commands like sit, stay, and down is helpful in curbing bad behaviors. Other commands like leave it and go to your place are helpful in mediating problems. This will go far in helping your dog to behave well around guests.
4. Socialize Your Dog
Socializing your dog may have been difficult during the pandemic, but it’s important in helping your dog enjoy the holidays. Dogs need to be socialized with each other, people, and surroundings as puppies and throughout their lives.
Take your pup out on walks where you may encounter some people and other dogs. Start slow and cautiously, and stay calm. Your dog will take cues from you. If you’re calm and in charge, they will feel safe and secure. Car rides can also help dogs experience new views and landscapes while being in the safety of a vehicle.
5. Keep Your Routines
Sticking to your dog’s routines as close as possible during the holidays will give them security and help curb bad behaviors. If you have multiple family members, divide up the responsibilities so no one is overworked. Plus, the dog will always have someone they know taking care of them.
Make sure they get ample exercise and eat on a schedule as much as possible. A tired dog who’s been properly exercised and fed is a lot less likely to bother your guests or stir up trouble.
6. Establish Clear Rules With Guests, Especially Children
All of your guests should be aware of how to properly interact with your dog and be able to follow any house rules you have. For example, if you do not feed your dog table food, your guests should be made aware that they should not either.
If you’re having kids stay over, you may need to give them some doggy boundaries. They may not know how to interact with a dog or may be accustomed to their own pets, which could cause them to interact too much or too quickly with your dog. To help keep your dog comfortable, remind the kids to take it easy at first.
Changing from a child-free environment or more low-key environment to all the hectic energy of a house full of people and kids is a difficult transition for anyone, but especially for your dog. It can cause anxiety for everyone involved, so make sure no one is getting out of hand – or being too “ruff” with your pup.
Remember, your dog just wants to feel safe, secure, and loved. Keeping these tips in mind will help you prepare your dog for holiday guests and keep everyone happy and safe!