Prepare Your Dog for Holiday Visitors + How to Involve Your Dog
The holidays are for spending time with family, friends, and loved ones — four-legged and two-legged alike!
However, if this is your dog’s first Christmas season in your house, or if you have extended family in town (among other things), figuring out how your dog will fit into the day may be stressful.
Whether you’re hosting guests, concerned about counter surfing (and possibly eating something that will make them sick! ), or concerned about how they’ll handle all the festive cheer, we’ve got you covered.
Continue reading to discover the best methods for preparing your dog for Christmas visitors, as well as how to include your dog safely and cheerfully in holiday celebrations.
1. Practice manners of greeting
If you’re having a Christmas gathering, the last thing you want is for your dog to jump up on guests, particularly toddlers, senior citizens, or others who are unfamiliar with dogs. Or, worse, the commotion may cause your dog to bolt out the door.
Begin now to prepare your dog for when holiday guests arrive at the door.
The most effective method of preparation is to teach your dog the “place” cue. This manner, your dog will learn to wait calmly in their place when someone comes to the door and will be greeted appropriately.
The following is a brief explanation of how to train your dog where to go:
Introduce the “place” cue and direct your dog to their bed (or other desired location).
Reward them while they are in their position.
Utilize a separate cue to eject them from their current location.
Repetition, repetition, repetition!
For more instructions and suggestions on teaching place, see our article “Teach Your Dog the ‘Place’ Cue — A Simple Guide.” Additionally, if you’re concerned about door bolting, see this article.
2. Get your guests ready
You don’t want your hard work in the classroom to be in vain, so inform your guests on what to expect. Establish standards or boundaries for when they enter — for example, do not greet your dog until he or she is relaxed in their location.
Additionally, establish expectations for interactions with your dog, as no one knows your dog better than you do. For instance, inform guests how much attention your dog enjoys and when they do not (i.e. while they are eating).
While guests should respect your boundaries, it’s a good idea to communicate the body language clues that indicate your dog is irritated or overwhelmed, so they know when to back off.
Finally, prepare your guests for the chance that your dog will attempt to get them to share their supper by using those large puppy dog eyes. Establish boundaries for sharing table food with your pet to prevent them from developing bad habits or being ill.
3. Prepare for children
If your dog is used to being around children, it shouldn’t be too difficult to have him among other children on a holiday – but it’s a good idea to keep an eye out to ensure your dog isn’t made uncomfortable by anything the children do.
On the other hand, if your dog is unaccustomed to children or is uneasy around them, you can take steps to prepare him or her so that the experience is as stress-free as possible. The trick is to gradually introduce youngsters to your home in a quiet, tranquil environment prior to their arrival.
In either scenario, ensure that your dog has a secure, calm space to retreat to if they become overwhelmed by your small guests. While a cage is ideal, if you are unable to keep your dog in his crate, a gated off room or dog bed would suffice.
4. Understand which foods you can and cant give to your dog
While you may be able to fill your plate without hesitation during the holidays, the same cannot be said for your dog.
Knowing which foods are acceptable to feed your dog and which should be avoided is critical for a safe holiday gathering.
Several popular holiday dishes that are safe to share with your dog in moderation include the following:
Turquie (no skin, seasoning, or bones)
Potatoes, sweet or white (plain)
Pears (with core, seeds and stems removed)
Beans, green (plains)
Additionally, some items should be avoided due to their potential health risks:
Bones, skin, and gravy from a turkey
Scallions, onions, garlic, chives, and leeks
Seasonings and spices for butter
Thanksgiving alcohol-free snacks for your dog on Instagram | Pupford
Print a PDF version of this graphic by clicking here.
For a comprehensive explanation, as well as information on hidden dangers in holiday dishes and how to incorporate your pet during holiday mealtime, visit our Thanksgiving food guide.
And if you’re searching for a quick reference guide to which fruits and veggies your dog may or may not eat (along with a printable for your refrigerator! ), look no further. Check out our article on Which Fruits and Vegetables Can and Cannot Be Eaten by Dogs.
5. Provide your dog with any abundance of exercise
Exercise in the days preceding the holidays will assist your dog remain calmer, more obedient, and happier during your guests’ visit. Additionally, it will assist them in not becoming overwhelmed if they are surrounded by a large number of new individuals or in a new location.
Bear in mind that exercise does not have to be limited to walking. While that is an excellent option, it is far from the only one.
And if you’re concerned about freezing temperatures or inclement weather, there are still lots of ways to provide your dog with the physical and mental activity they require. Indoor exercise is equally as beneficial as outside exercise and may be a lot of fun.
Here are 21 indoor dog exercise alternatives.
6. Review the Essentials
While there is never a bad time to check on your dog’s manners and abilities, holiday preparation is an excellent time to brush up on training.
Crate training, fundamental skills, and greeting manners should all be practised in the weeks leading up to your Christmas event to ensure the optimum response.
The Pupford Academy features videos and resources led by certified trainers. The trainers cover a variety of topics, including crate training, enrichment activities, and treating undesirable behaviours.
7. Lastly be safe and enjoy yourself
The holidays are a time to enjoy time with friends and family, including dogs! This year, make a point of having fun and creating memories with the pets in your life.
Invite your dogs to participate in family photos, provide them with enjoyable enrichment items and treats, and include them in your enjoyable traditions. After all, they are blood relatives!
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