Dogs and Holiday Guests - Preparing Your Pup
The holiday season is almost upon us, and if you have been swept up in the preparations for the festivities, you are not alone! Statistics reveal that 9 in 10 Americans in the United States celebrate Christmas and look forward to the event in the latter half of the year.
Dogs and Holiday Guests - Preparing Your Pup
Christmas is the festival of lights, food, celebrations, and interactions with loved ones. This makes it among the most enjoyed and appreciated holidays across the globe. Many look forward to a break from their regular routine to enjoy a day filled with laughter, fun, and cheer with their friends and family.
If you think that the hustle and bustle of the festivities are restricted to you and your guests, think again! As many as 63 million households in the United States are home to dogs, which makes them just as much a part of the celebrations as you!
Your dog is a sensitive animal that will soon begin recognizing the activity associated with Christmas. It is important to keep in mind, however, that your pup may not respond to the celebrations in the same way as you.
To allow your dog to get accustomed to the festival, new and unknown faces, and the activities, it is important to begin preparations well in advance. Preparing your dog for the holiday season can ensure that both of you enjoy yourselves as safely and comfortably as possible.
Read on to discover 5 tips to prepare your dog for your holiday guests!
5 Tips to Prepare Your Dog for Your Holiday Guests
Implementing these 5 tips can help you make your pup’s transition into the holiday season safely, keeping in mind their concerns and requirements. This can ensure your pet is taken care of while you are busy, and that introductions happen as calmly and gently as possible.
Create a Safe Space for Your Pup
A couple of days before Christmas, find a safe corner in your house that you can leave your pup in for a couple of hours. The space can help your pet relax and adjust to the noises and stimuli, without getting overwhelmed. Make sure that this safe space has a water bowl, treats, a toy, and a comfy bed or crate. Ensure your dog is crate-trained well before you create this space. You may even consider adding a shirt or pillow that smells of you to keep your dog comforted and reassured.
Having a safe space can help facilitate smoother interactions with unknown faces. Bring your dog in this space when they are not feeling social or if you can recognize the signs of a sensory overload.
Brush Up on Obedience Training
The best time to brush up on obedience training is the week or two before Christmas. Use this time to work in a couple of short and frequent training sessions, spread out across a day.
Practice commands such as “sit”, “stay”, “retreat” and “leave it”. These will come wonderfully in handy when your pup interacts with your guests for the first time.
Make sure you inculcate these commands into your everyday life and routine in the weeks before Christmas. For instance, you can ask your dog to “sit” as you are making dinner, or “leave it” if they have picked up a shoe. Making a habit out of these commands can help your dog recognize and respond to them faster.
Take Your Pup on a Long Walk
Before your guests arrive, spend a good one hour taking your dog on an intense and engaging walk. This physical activity can work wonders in providing an outlet for excess energy, while also tiring your pup enough to keep them calm.
As the saying goes, “A good dog is a tired dog”.
Use the above obedience training commands while on walks to reinforce the same. The commands can also be used when interacting with strangers on walks. Socializing your pup early can help them adjust to new and unknown faces.
Once you are back home, ensure your dog has enough food and water and give them a little time to rest after their intense activity.
Leashed Introduction to Guests
When your guests arrive, put your dog on a leash and instruct them to “sit” or “stay” in a specific place. It would be a good idea to give your guests certain rules to follow before they interact with your pup. This can ensure that no boundaries are overstepped, which could be a cause of misbehavior.
For example, you can ask your guests to not hug your dog or run to them with a loud voice and large gestures. Give them an understanding of how much attention your pup likes, where they like to be petted, and signs that they should back away if the dog is agitated.
If you have children in the household, it is important to firmly establish these boundaries with them as well. The last thing you need is the complaint of a child or dog injury on Christmas Day!
Put your dog on a leash and allow them to take in the different scents and choose who they want to interact with. If your dog is visually-impaired, ensure that the halo is properly secured. Keep a close eye on behavior and body language. The moment you begin sensing signs of sensory overload, immediately take your dog back to their safe space.
Reward Good Behavior
Give your guests a handle of treats and ask them to reward your pup if you recognize how well they are responding to the unknown faces. A little reinforcement can go a long way in promoting safe and friendly introductions.
Make sure that you are present at all times, as this can help your dog feel secure when faced with unknown people.
If your dog is responding well to the attention, you can ask your guests to gently pet them and use a kind voice when talking to them.
It is important to remember, however, that you do not continue introductions for longer than 20-30 minutes. Too much can cause your pup to become overstimulated.
Following these above tips can help you make the right preparations in ensuring your pup has a safe and enjoyable holiday season! Remember to be patient and begin training months in advance and you should be able to enjoy the benefits of your efforts for years to come!