Grandma has just arrived, all the dishes are set to come out of the oven, and the turkey is resting.
Things are all going according to your masterful plan until someone lets in the dogs! Before you know it, one is after the turkey while the other has already knocked grandma over. This is not the Thanksgiving you had hoped for.
Jumping up and food thievery are the top two issues dog owners face on Thanksgiving. It may sound impossible to try managing your dog’s behaviors while also hosting the most important family meal of the year. You can make it possible with the right plan and approach. This year give your dogs a chance to enjoy thanksgiving, they are a part of the family after all.
Just like planning the perfect Thanksgiving meal, having well behaved dogs will take some planning and preparation ahead of time. Our positive reinforcement dog trainers say to have the perfect dog on Thanksgiving you need to follow these five steps
- Start correcting the jumping today! As humans we have a tendency to respond to jumping with “No” or “Off.” However, dogs struggle to understand the absence of something clearly. They do much better when we provide a replacement behavior. Your dog needs a way to greet people and for people to recognize that is what your dog is doing. Responding to jumping with a “Sit” command is the best way to teach you dog how to greet people and get recognized for it. Another issue with “off” is that its just a standing position, so when the dog runs up initially the energy level is high, they stand for a moment, like “hey I’m off,” and then they revert right back to jumping when it doesn’t work out the way they hoped. Giving them a sit command to focus on is going to calm your dogs energy and is more likely to catch positive attention from people coming in the door. Its a heck of a lot more approachable than a dog running up right under your feet first thing you walk in. If your dog doesn’t have this totally down by the holiday, make sure to have treats outside for your guests so they can encourage a sit when they walk inside. Practice makes perfect
- Have interactive toys ready Having a interactive toys you can bring out when your dog get antsy and needs something to do is a great way to minimize the time you have to spend keeping your dog out of trouble. If you have a multiple dog household or there are young children in the home, consider isolating your dog during that time and letting them out when they finish.
- Make sure your dog is properly exercised mentally and physically Start wearing down your dog’s energy level days before the big meal. Schedule out some time for daily dog walks the week of Thanksgiving or hire an experienced dog walker. Incorporate training practice, interactive toys, and brain games to wear down your dog mentally as well.
- Teach your dog to “Go” and “Leave it” With all the food around, you’ll want a reliable way to tell your dog to walk away from temptation. A leave it command is perfect for teaching your dog to walk away. You can practice telling your dog to go out of the kitchen in the time before thanksgiving so you are start developing a boundary.
- Have a safe, quiet space prepared Thanksgiving is often a very long day and its okay if your dog needs a break from all the commotion. Play some classical music and give them a comfy, secluded place to relax for a bit.
Being prepared and having a good plan will help your dogs thanksgiving go smoothly. If you have additional questions or concern about your dog’s behavior over the holiday season, contact one of our dog trainers in Anchorage, Alaska and beyond to set up a FREE Discovery Call.