The Holidays are exciting times when you look forward to celebrating with loved ones who may be visiting for a meal, a few hours, or an entire weekend. Amidst the bustle of preparing your home for guests, pet parents should be mindful of how their four-legged friends feel.
For a little doggy mind, unknown people in their home is a serious invasion of their privacy and secure places. As a rule, canines are fiercely protective of their homes, and they don’t like exposure to unfamiliar scents and noises. So, what can you do to make sure that the Holidays are a memorable event for you and your canine family member?
Begin Training Sessions Well Ahead of the Event
You’ll begin preparing your buddy’s psyche well ahead of the Holidays. If you haven’t already taught them commands like, “Sit!” or “Stay!” now would be a good time. Reward your dog with their favorite treats for staying still in one place. Gradually build up the stay sessions so that they learn to not jump around and get in people’s way or trip them.
You could also reinforce lessons of staying off the sofas, chairs, beds, dog portraits, and any other artwork you might have. Your human guests may not necessarily like your best pal jumping onto their knees or sniffing around their feet.
Train Your Pet to be Comfortable Around Strangers
If your furry bud is not used to being around strangers, take them to the dog park for progressively longer periods so they learn to be around people they don’t know. You could also take them for walks to alfresco cafeterias and diners where pets are allowed.
That’s a good start for learning to behave and accept people who are not a part of their family. You’ll also practice staying on the leash indoors, in case you need to confine your pet when you have guests over. Request your friends to resist trying to play or interact with the dog if the animal seems anxious or nervous around them. If needed, let your bud relax in the bedroom or laundry room undisturbed.
Crating Works for Humans and Pets
Most pet parents invest in crates and train their pals to spend time in them. Like your veterinarian will advise, teaching your buddy to sleep in the crate keeps them safe at night. They won’t run around and get into all kinds of trouble. Crates are also like a den or secure place to escape when they’re scared or nervous.
You’ll set up their favorite blankets and toys along with one of your old t-shirts to make them feel secure. When guests arrive, the crate would be the perfect place for your buddy to retire and rest if they feel threatened. You could also place chew toys, a nice bone, or a treat-dispensing puzzle in the crate to keep them busy and entertained.
Teach Your Pal Commands Like, “Leave It” and “Drop It”
Holiday dinners typically mean you’ll have food in the kitchen and dining table. You’ll teach your bud to stay away from objects even if you’re not in the same room or keeping an eye on them. Commands like “Leave It!” indicate that the item is not to be touched and can be handy when your friends bring you Rosh Hashanah gift baskets with lots of edible and aromatic treats that are hard to resist.
Or, when you’ve put up shiny ornaments and Holiday decorations that are irresistible to a canine mind. If they do grab them, using the “Drop It!” command will prompt your best bud to let go and give it up.
Maintain Your Pet’s Routine
Maintaining a regular routine with fixed times for meals and walks is essential for a sense of security. Like dog trainers will tell you, knowing what to expect reassures your pet. Even when you have guests over, make it a point to stick to the schedule. Spend time with your bud so they don’t feel ignored and lonely. When you go back to entertaining your guests, they’ll settle down happily. An added positive is that the exercise will wear out the excess energy. By the time you get back home, your pal will be ready for a nap.
Be Extra Cautious When Having Children Over
If you have kids in the house, your four-legged bud is likely familiar with small people and won’t mind having them around. Even so, supervise all interactions and don’t allow the kids to bother your pet. No matter how well-behaved your dog is, animals and children can be unpredictable–especially around each other. Most importantly, never let the kids take away your bud’s toys, treats, food and water bowls, and any other belongings. Not only will the animal feel threatened, but might try to get back their things, resulting in a stressful situation.
Request Guests to Respect Your Pet’s Boundaries
When inviting friends, talk to them about respecting your furry buddy’s boundaries. Never approach the dog when they’re eating, sleeping, or tired. Introduce your dog to friends after they’ve settled in, sitting comfortably, and perhaps, sipping a beverage.
Talk about any doggie quirks and habits guests can expect and what they mean. For instance, your pet bounds to the kitchen each time the fridge door opens or whines when they hear the ice cream truck passing. You’ll also inform your friends what to do if the pet jumps up or offers friendly kisses. If they’re nervous around animals, you might want to settle your dog in a room separated by a child’s door.
You want to spend time with loved ones and celebrate during the Holidays. Make your four-legged family member a part of the festivities. But, do understand their unique needs and how they might feel about unknown people in their home. As a pet parent, make sure to create an environment where your little pal does not feel overwhelmed and nervous. And, have a memorable time.