Holiday season is in full swing, and everyone’s preparing their homes for festive gatherings. This week, I’ve been overwhelmed with private dog training lessons focused on teaching Fido polite manners during holiday parties. Before I share my recommended holiday safety tips for pets, it’s important that pet owners understand and set fair expectations for themselves and their dogs.
Having Fido lie leisurely under the dining table is a pipe dream. Yes, everyone wants this picturesque holiday moment, but it’s stressful and unrealistic for pet owners and their dogs. Additionally, holiday parties are noisy and confusing to dogs. And it only takes a second for your dog to run out the door while guests come in and out. Lastly, holiday guests can easily step on or unintentionally feed your dog dangerous foods.
By taking the time to prepare your dog for holiday parties, you can keep your dog safe and relaxed throughout the festivities.
1. Take Your Dog on a Long Walk
About an hour or so before your party guests arrive, take your dog out for a long walk. Ensure your dog has plenty of sniffing opportunities because sniffing is just as exhausting as walking. If the weather is terrible, play Nose Work, tug or fetch with your dog instead.
2. Prepare Pumpkin Stuffed Toys Beforehand
Giving your dog a yummy food stuffed toy will keep your dog’s brain busy during holiday parties. The night before your holiday party, prepare yummy food stuffed toys and freeze them overnight. In keeping with your holiday party theme, stuff bits of lean turkey (white meat with skin removed) and pumpkin into a food stuffed toy and store in your freezer.
If your dog is watching his waistline, mix pumpkin and blackstrap molasses together and stuff inside a toy. Pumpkin is a low calorie option and molasses provides a healthy, yet sweet taste that will keep your dog busy for hours.
3. Keep Your Dog Happily Contained
Place your dog’s crate in your bedroom and place cozy bedding inside. About 30 mins before your guests arrive, crate your dog and leave him with a food stuffed toy and a few treats. Close his crate door and turn on soft music. When leaving your bedroom, firmly close the door behind you. Post a note on the door saying, “Please don’t open.” This will ensure lost guests understand this door doesn’t lead to the bathroom.
4. Meeting Guests
Of course, you should introduce your dog to guests as long as your dog and guests are comfortable meeting each other. Once everyone has sat down with a beverage, bring your dog out on leash to greet everyone. Keep a stash of yummy dog training treats in your bedroom, and grab them as you’re walking your dog out to greet everyone. This is the perfect time to reward your dog for polite choices around guests and show off your dog’s skills. After 10 minutes, grab another frozen food stuffed toy and crate your dog in your bedroom again. Your dog will be exhausted after meeting guests.