Speaking from personal experience, there is never a more obvious time that you've dropped the ball with your dog's training than a social gathering. Watching your fully housetrained pup leave a little 'gift' under the tree or jump on the table to scarf down turkey adds unnecessary stress to your holiday gatherings that your 2020 does not need.
While many things are out of our control this year, the one thing that isn't is prepping your pooch for gatherings.
We love the advice form the AKC's website. It's simple, achievable, and I guarantee you've already laid the groundwork for most of these items.
- Know your dog. Does your dog have the proper manners needed to be part of the party without causing trouble? Does your dog really enjoy going to new places or meeting new people? If not, consider leaving him at home if you will be visiting, or keeping him in a quiet room if you are hosting. Sometimes a cozy bed and a good chew toy will be more enjoyable for your dog.
- Make sure to include exercise time for your dog. Without the proper amount of exercise, dogs will feel the need to release pent-up energy in ways you might not like. Mental exercise can help tire your dog, so try incorporating toys and games that make your dog think.
- Training with basic obedience commands, such as “sit,”, “down,” and “stay,” will go a long way in ensuring you, your guests, and your dog will enjoy each other’s company. For extended stays, don't be afraid to as ask your guests for help. Demonstrate how to correct bad behavior as well as the appropriate time to give rewards. It takes a village and this way your dog has a chance to bond with everyone.
- Teach “go to your place.” Couple this command with a long-lasting bone or favorite chew toy, and your dog will be able to stay near you and your guests while lying safely on his bed or mat, not underfoot.
- Don’t forget to puppy proof, even if you have an older dog. Some holiday plants and ornaments can be dangerous if chewed or swallowed. Poinsettia for example. Train your dog to "leave it" to quickly turn his attention away from the item you prefer he not have. “Leave it” also comes in handy if your dog begins to pester a person or other family pet.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and Holiday season. If you are able to be with loved-ones we hope you do so safely. Much love to our pack. We are grateful for you this year.