The holidays are here and for many this means guests will be visiting. If you’re having guests over and you’re not sure how you’re going to manage the interactions between those guests and your dog, this blog post will help. Training goes a long way, but if you haven’t been consistently practicing, it may be too late to count on it this year. This means you’ll want to focus your efforts on management and prevention and focus on training in the new year.
Where to begin For starters, what is going to be easiest for you and your dog? It may be easiest to have your dog on leash with one of the family members holding on. Or it may be easiest to have a room blocked off with a gate up to help get everyone in your home without the risk of your dog slipping out the door or jumping enthusiastically. Whatever you choose, it doesn’t have to stay that way the entire time. Many dogs are extremely excited initially but calm down quickly. One thing to keep in mind is that some dogs will become frustrated if they cannot go and say hi to the visitors. This can lead to lots of barking. To prevent that, you’ll want to have some high value options ready that will help keep your dog’s attention. Here is a list of options: - Bully stick - Himalayan chew - Beef cheek - Stuffed Kong - Kong wobbler (or any option for your dog to work for their meal.) Greeting guests If your dog has calmed down and you’re ready to let them out to greet, it may be smooth sailing. For many dogs once the initial excitement is gone, they’re good to go. Plenty of dogs though will get reinvigorated when they have the chance to greet and may do lots of jumping. If this is your dog, your best bet is to have them wear a leash so you can prevent jumping. Preventing counter surfing and food stealing Another problematic time may be when food is out and with a little effort, accessible. Let’s face it, dogs are excellent scavengers. They can grab something quickly and swallow it in the blink of an eye. This can be dangerous if there is food within reach that is poisonous to dogs. And regardless, most people don’t want their dogs serving themselves. Because it may be too late to train what we’d like to happen instead, we need to prevent counter surfing or food stealing in general. At this point you’ll either want to go back to the beginning and either gate your dog off or use a leash to prevent access to certain areas. Future training Once the new year hits and the holidays have past, you’ll want to start working on training so that your dog is able to respond to your requests. Here is a list of helpful behaviors you’ll want to work on: - Sit - Down - Stay - Go to place - Leave it Once you have trained these behaviors you’ll be able to loosen up on management. You’ll be able to ask your dog to go to their place and to stay for intermittent food rewards. And if your dog is starting to get nosey with food, “leave it” will come in handy. Of course, when guests arrive, instead of jumping on them, sitting is a great option to get that attention. If you need help with training, we have in person options and a self paced online course which is budget friendly.