Holiday entertaining can be a little tricky when there’s a furry friend in the house, but it needn’t stress you out. Here are a few tips for keeping everyone happy and comfortable during your holiday celebrations.
Practice Makes Perfect
Even if you don’t mind your dog jumping on you when you walk in the door, your guests might not think it’s cute. Give your dog plenty of opportunities to learn and practice the skills he’ll need to be a polite and well-behaved host. For example, have a family member ring the doorbell and walk inside so your dog can practice the appropriate way to greet guests. Review helpful commands such as Sit, Stay, Down, Off, Drop It, Leave It, and Go to Bed.
Stick to Your Routine
Like human children, dogs love consistency. The holiday season can be stressful and hectic for everyone, so it helps to keep your dog’s routine as normal as you can. For example, make sure he is eating and going out at close to the usual times. Ideally, you would take your dog for a nice long walk or even schedule some doggie daycare before guests arrive, to make sure he’s as tired as possible. As always, a tired dog is a good dog! Inside the house, have toys – especially interactive or puzzle toys stuffed with food -- and a quiet space available if the noise and activity becomes too much. As with any aspect of dog training, understanding your dog’s personality is key. Even the most social Golden Retriever can get exhausted from constant adoration, but if your dog is already nervous or fearful don’t force him to meet 50 of your closest friends as a form of “training.” Let him meet people at a comfortable pace.
Hopefully, your dog’s presence will not be a surprise to party guests, and especially not to overnight guests. Once your guests arrive, help them reinforce your dog’s training by sharing the basic house rules: Is the dog allowed on the furniture? Are there any off-limits areas, or any doors that should remain shut? Is it OK to give the dog treats? Let guests know which commands your dog has been taught so your dog won’t get confused. If you are still working on training, or there are small children around, you might want to consider keeping your dog on a leash indoors for added control.
Make sure your guests’ shoes, coats, and luggage are behind closed doors where your dog cannot sniff at them. Obviously you don’t want your dog destroying your guests’ belongings, but some items could actually be dangerous for your dog. For example, human medications and cigarettes can be toxic to dogs, and personal items such as tampons can require emergency surgery to remove from a dog’s digestive system.
Keep His Collar On
It can happen so fast. One minute, your dog is inside the house – the next, he’s running through an open door and down the street. Unfamiliar people and surroundings (such as a dog sitter’s home) can make even the most relaxed dog skittish or excitable, so make sure your dog can be identified at all times. If your dog is micro-chipped, be sure the contact information that is linked to the chip is up to date. With luck, you will never need to use it.
We hope these tips help ensure that everyone in your family has a safe, happy holiday season.