The holidays can be a confusing time for your pets. You may have guests visiting or travel plans that take your dog far from the comforts of his home, which can be understandably overwhelming for your pet. It’s not uncommon for holiday festivities to cause pet anxiety, which can lead to behavioral issues that can be disruptive to your celebrations at best. But you can prepare your pup beforehand by teaching good dog etiquette to help avoid bad dog behavior.
When preparing your family for the festivities this year, use these dog etiquette tips to make holidays with dogs more enjoyable for everyone.
Turn Your Pup into the Perfect Traveler
When traveling for the holidays, consider what you and your dog need to remain comfortable. If you’re flying with your pet, check that your travel crate meets airline guidelines. If he’s not already crate trained, work with him one-on-one to get him ready for a day of travel. Make the travel crate a comfortable place for your pet by adding a soft dog mat or his favorite toy. A comfortable dog is a happier dog, and a better behaved travel mate. If your pup has never been on a plane before or tends to be anxious in new situations, you may need calming aids to reduce your dog’s anxiety.
Dog Manners for Meeting New People
Teaching your pet good dog manners benefits your pet and the people you spend the holidays with. When introducing your dog to guests, “Wait for your dog to be calm, with all four feet on the floor, before moving close enough for your dog to sniff or greet the guest. If your dog tries to jump, back away and try again,” says Logan Alexandre, a dog trainer for A Helping Paw.
Teaching your dog to go to a specific location in your home on command can help when tensions are high. “A key tactic to making the holidays easier is to teach your dog a ‘place’ command. Teach your dog to lie down on their bed or a mat and stay there. Make their place somewhere where they can watch what is going on, and they’ll likely be happy to stay there,” says Alexandre.
Tasty dog treats often assist in the place training process. Zuke’s Mini Naturals Chicken Recipe Treats are healthy and delicious, plus they have fewer than 3 calories per treat, making them the perfect training treat.
Set Your Pup Up for Success
Good dog etiquette goes beyond simply teaching dog obedience. It’s also about doing your part as the pet parent, and being mindful of the people around you.
During the holidays, your dog is likely to come in contact with new people, making it easy to spread parasites or disease. “Take your dog to your veterinarian for an exam before bringing him into someone else’s home for the holidays,” suggests Dr. Selmer. “You need to be sure your dog doesn’t have fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites, mites or illness that could cause problems for your hosts and their pets.” Don’t be the houseguest who shows up with a pet full of fleas that invade your host’s home.
Child safety is also paramount during holidays with dogs. “There should always be adult supervision between any dog and a pre-school-aged child, especially when they are new to your home,” says Dr. Selmer. Whether your dog is being introduced to a new environment or finding several new people in his home, he may be experiencing heightened anxiety that could cause him to act out. Keeping your dog on a leash is one way to keep your dog under control. You might also want to bring along a gate to keep your pet in a separate area, away from children when necessary.
Dog Etiquette Goes Both Ways
If family or friends are coming to visit, communicate any rules ahead of time. It’s important that your guests know you have pets and that they’ll need to be mindful. “Inform guests of your pet, so that they’re careful when coming and going not to let your dog out,” advises Dr. Michel Selmer, a licensed veterinarian at Advanced Care for Pets.
Don’t forget to inform guests of any dietary restrictions. Donna Chicone, pet advocate and author of Being a Super Pet Parent, warns pet parents to look out for toxic foods. “Chocolate is one food that is common during the holidays, and is toxic for dogs.” Dr. Selmer advises pet parents to, “Inform guests not to feed your dog any foods before consulting you first, especially if your pet has dietary restrictions.”
Training Tools and Guides
Training tools can help you teach good dog manners. Armed with the right techniques, you can ensure your pup is on his best behavior when entertaining guests. Animal Planet personality and YouTube star Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love, promises quicker results and a happier pet. Topics include house-training, basic training and managing behavioral issues.
The Starmark Pro-Training Clicker is a great dog etiquette training tool. By marking the precise moment good dog behavior occurs with a click, you can speed learning up by close to 50%.
Develop the skills to become the calm and assertive owner your dog needs with Cesar Millan’s Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar’s Way to Transform Your Dog and Your Life. This book features practical dog obedience training tips and techniques, and talks about behavior tools—from leashes and dog harnesses to clickers and e-collars. You’ll also find step-by-step procedures to tackling some of the most common dog behavior problems.
It’s easy to get consumed by the stresses of the holidays and spending the holidays with dogs, so don’t forget about good dog etiquette. It’s important to consider both the needs of your guests and those of your furry friend. “Respecting our dogs as members of our family, and treating them as we would any other member of the family is important,” says Chicone. “Keeping them safe and meeting their needs especially during hectic holidays is our responsibility as pet parents.”
By teaching your pet good dog manners, you can enjoy your travel plans without fear of bad behavior.