Bytes From the Behaviorist: Holiday Manners

Holiday Manners for your Pet

A well-behaved dog is always welcome.  Whether we’re traveling to someone’s home or hosting at our own, we want people to feel comfortable around our dog. Below are some training and management tips that can help you and your dog make it through the holidays with finesse. Training helps our dog perform the correct behaviors.  Management sets our dog up to succeed and prevents the rehearsal of unwanted behaviors.

Training Skills

Place: stationing your dog prevents so many unwanted behaviors: stealing napkins from laps at holiday dinners, sitting in the lap of someone who might not be a dog lover, and jumping up at the door

Drop It: This skill is critical for putting down stolen items.  Whether it’s a piece of chocolate or a tissue, your dog should be able to give it up when asked to Drop It

Leave It: Similar to Drop it, Leave it is preventative.  If you see your dog eyeballing the chocolate or tissue, you can ask them to Leave it so they don’t pick it up in the first place

Polite Greeting: Greeting family and friends is exciting but dogs should learn how to sit to greet.  In Bouncing Benji class they can also learn a greeting ritual called Say Hello that is sure to impress

Management Solutions

Baby Gates: physically separating our dog is sometimes the best answer.  If there’s chaos in the kitchen and your dog isn’t great at staying in their place yet, a baby gate can be used to keep your dog out of the way. Using a baby gate still allows your dog to see you and feel like they’re part of the action.

Sanctuary Space: Dogs need a break from all the business of friends and family.  When the kids need to run and be rowdy, removing your dog to a Sanctuary Space can be a kindness.  The Sanctuary space could be a back bedroom or a crate in a quiet part of the house.  It should be out of sight and relatively quiet. A special bone can be given there. White noise and calming music can be layered to muffle sounds. An Adaptil plug-in can be used for additional calming effect.

Pacifiers: KongsLikiMats, or Snuffle Mats – these things help entertain your dog and keep them out of trouble. Also, be sure to have appropriate chew items on hand. Try Bully SticksBeef Tracheas, or Himalayan Cheese Chews. When giving Bully Sticks or other hard chews, check out this great Safety Device.

Calming Aid: Being anxious or overstimulated is common when routines are different or the house is full of new people. You can give your dog a little extra biological support with the Mushroom Relax Chews.  These aren’t sedating, it’s more like having a cup of Chamomile Tea to ease frazzled nerves.  Of course, you want to double-check with your vet that this supplement will be right for your dog before administering, especially if they are taking any other medication.

This article appears courtesy of DOG TRAINING BY VALERIE, Valerie Balwanz, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, PMCT

Valerie Balwanz is a behaviorist who generously shares her expertise with the CAF to help new pet owners. Visit her website for more information about training, and behavioral issues, and to contact her.