Start basting that turkey and mash up those cranberries – the holidays are here! The holidays are a great time to gather together and celebrate with friends and family, and dogs are nearly as excited about the festivities as humans are. After all, what time of year promises more fallen floor food than the holidays?
While your pup will be scouring the ground for goodies, you’ll have to be on guard to keep her safe and on her best behavior with guests.
We’ll explain some tips to ensure that your upcoming big holiday gatherings are enjoyable for everyone!
1.Train Your Human Guests on How to Handle Your Pooch
Not everyone is a dog person – crazy, I know! But some individuals just won’t know how to properly interact with your four-legger. Be sure to lay down some ground rules about what kind of behavior you expect from your human guests.
Are you working on stopping your pup from jumping up on guests? Be sure to inform visitors that they can’t pet or engage with your girl until she settles down.
These rules are even more important for pets who are stressed out by guests or have behavior issues like resource guarding. If your dog is set off by being touched a certain way, or if she hates when people get near her bed, make sure visitors know.
If you have young guests, make sure the kiddos and their parents understand the rules for canine interaction.
The same applies for table manners too!
If your dog has stomach troubles or isn’t allowed people food for other reasons, let your visitors know that no table scraps are allowed.
This is especially important for young children who will likely be enamoured by your pooch and may need to be reminded that your pup can’t be allowed to eat turkey off of their plates, no matter how adorable she looks scarfing it down.
Decide ahead of time what leftovers – if any – dogs are allowed to eat and who will be giving it to them.
It tends to be best if visitors are instructed to not give your dog leftovers directly off of the table. You should always give the OK before your dog gets anything.
Remember, bones aren’t safe to feed dogs, no matter what your farm hand uncle might say!
If young visitors are just dying to throw something to your pooch, consider placing a designated “treat bowl” on the table with kibble that the kiddos can throw your dog now and then when you give permission.
2. Try Mat Training
If you have a pup who gets a little too excited around the table, or has the habit of putting her nose in anyone and everyone’s lap begging for goodies, you may want to consider working on mat training prior to your parties.
Get a designated mat that will from now on become your dog’s chill out mat.
Dog mat training involves teaching your dog to go and relax calmly on her special mat whenever it’s on the ground.
With a bit of work, the mat can become an instant cue to your dog to go to the mat and relax, keeping your pup out from under the table and away from those crumb-filled laps.
3. Grab Gates When Needed
Some dogs just won’t handle a huge influx of visitors well. That’s OK – your dog doesn’t have to be a social butterfly! But it’s your job to ensure your dog and visitors are happy and safe during the festivities.
If your dog isn’t up for handling visitors, simply grab an indoor pet gate (a baby gate works fine too) and section your dog off in a quieter room.
It’s best to practice a bit with the gate before a big holiday get-together, as many dogs won’t be crazy about being isolated from you. However, if you give your dog a puzzle toy to enjoy and practice throwing your dog some treats over the gate from the opposite side, your dog should warm up to the gate eventually.
Just make sure to not start crating your dog for the first time during your holiday party. While crating is a perfectly adequate option for keeping your dog safe and out of harm’s way for a while, your dog needs to slowly get adapted to the crate.
Throwing her in there without letting her adjust to the idea first may develop anxiety and result in a negative association with the crate, which is not something that you want!
4. Keep Your Dog Busy During Dinner
The sounds of voices, partying, and people can sometimes push an already excited dog entirely over the edge. Instead of letting your dog stare down guests with saucer eyes and a drooling mouth, give her something better to do!
In addition to putting up a gate or barricade, if your pet gets too overwhelmed or stressed by guests, you can try distracting her with an interactive dog toy.
Stuffed kongs, treat-dispensing balls, tough chews, and puzzle toys all work wonders for keeping your dog occupied and interested in something other than your dinner guests’ plates.
If your dog gets particularly restless from the sound of voices nearby, turn on a radio or television. Dogs can benefit from some distraction and a bit of white noise just as much as humans can!
5. Consider CBD Oil For Stressed Out Canines
Even with treat-dispensing puzzle toys and some calming background music, some doggos will still be stressed out during your seasonal festivities, especially if the house is more crowded than normal.
There are all these strangers in the house being loud and eating food you can’t have – how distressing!
If your pup seems anxious or stressed, CBD for dogs is one solution that may help. Many owners rave about the ability of CBD to calm stressed out canine nerves, so it’s worth having on hand and giving it a try.
You can give your dog CBD in oil form, which can be mixed with your dog’s food, or in chewable treat form, which some dogs may be more inclined to enjoy.
The holidays can be an exciting and stressful time of year for your four-legger. With these tips, you can ensure that both you, your dog, and your guests have fun, incident-free holiday parties!
About the Author: Meg Marrs is the CEO of K9 of Mine, a dog care resource website focused on helping owners be the very best leaders and caregivers for their canine companions!