It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for jumping up on house guests, stealing scrumptious snacks off of countertops, and being a general nuisance while the humans try to spread good holiday cheer.
Nothing kills the buzz of a good holiday party than a poorly-behaved pooch. We get it; it’s hard to keep up on the obedience training while your friends and relatives are coming to deck the halls, but it’s important.
Here are Pawsitive K9 Solutions’ top 5 tips for keeping up with your dog’s training during the holidays so you can guarantee that you, your guests, and your dog all have a great holiday season this year!
1. Know Your Dog
This one may be a hard pill for many to swallow, but we’re dog trainers here, and it’s our job to tell you the truth. Your dog may not be a party animal.
It’s difficult for someone to leave their dog crated or sequestered in another room during a holiday party, but some dogs are too anxious or fearful to deal with a crowded home filled with noise, strangers, and children.
Our best recommendation, if your puppy is still in their critical stages of socialization, is to slowly desensitize them to new stimuli, including meeting other dogs, children, progressively larger groups of people, and everyday noises like cars, music, and more.
Slowly acclimating them may help, but some dogs realistically cannot partake in the festivities this year, and that’s okay. If hosting a party only stresses them out, they’re better left in a crate or sequestered to an off-limits section of the home.
In some cases, it may be better not to have the party at your home in the first place. Be realistic about what your dog will be okay with, and never force them into stressful situations if they are not equipped to handle them.
2. Mind the “Three Ds” of Dog Training
We talk a lot about the Three Ds in dog training: distance, duration, and distraction. It’s cool if our doggos can hold a sit-stay for an extended duration or at a relatively great distance, but distraction is the big one for the holiday season.
Stick to the basics of your obedience training– sit, stay, leave it, and a reasonably reliable recall –and start drilling it in increasingly more distracting environments. If you have success at home where it’s quiet, try going to a park and trying there too. Invite a friend or two and ask them to hang out on the side while you hold a quick training sesh nearby.
Keep the sessions short and sweet to ensure you get their full attention, and don’t be stingy with the rewards! A good pup is an appreciated pup!
3. Practice Situational Awareness
So, your dog has some work to do before “game day,” so to speak, but you don’t get off scot-free either! As in any situation, you are your dog’s ambassador, and their success ultimately depends on knowing how to manage the situation.
From the moment your first guest arrives to the moment your last guest leaves, it’s your responsibility to ensure your dog is minding their manners. Be conscious of their body language and be ready to intervene if things seem tense.
This is crucial because, while it’s not ideal for your pup to commit a party faux pas and help themselves to the appetizers, it’s far worse if they decide to, say, get nippy with your niece’s fingers.
Remember that you’re managing your dog’s behavior towards your guests and home and vice versa. Watch to ensure everyone is being kind and respectful to your dog, especially children who may not know better.
If the situation gets out of hand, be ready to escort your dog back to a safe and calm environment.
4. Consistency is Key
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Well, it’s the same way you get your dog to be on their best behavior this holiday season— practice, practice, practice!
That means you’ll want practice sessions multiple times during the day, each short but focused, every day. Working with a professional dog trainer like ours here at Pawsitive K9 Solutions helps towards the goal, too. Still, the behavior will need to be reinforced at home by every household member if you want to maximize your chances for substantial and ongoing success.
Rehearsing your dog’s obedience training consistently leading up to the many holiday parties on the horizon is your best bet at nixing counter surfing, jumping on guests, nipping tiny fingers, and other inappropriate behaviors that will put a serious damper on the good tidings.
5. Hire a Professional to Help With Dog Training During the Holidays
Hiring the best dog trainers to train your dog and act as your personal dog behavior consultant is an excellent idea as well. Not only will this decrease your chances of having a poorly-behaved pooch at the festivities, but it will also instill confidence and a strong foundation in your dog that sets them up for lifelong success.
Don’t settle for “just getting through the holidays;” give your dog a learning foundation to help them live their happiest, healthiest life with you and your family!
Contact us at Pawsitive K9 Solutions today for more information. And, from our family to yours, have a happy and healthy holiday season this year!