Most humans know the rules when it comes to attending a holiday soiree—bring a gift for the host and avoid any touchy subjects—but does your pup know what dog behavior is on and off-limits? For example, here’s a scene to imagine. The table is set with name cards delicately placed on each plate, scents of sweet cinnamon and savory turkey swirl in the air, and the floors are so clean they sparkle. You worked hard all week to host a wonderful holiday event for your guests. But, as you open the door to welcome them in and graciously take their coats, your dog decides to help make them feel welcome too…just in their way, which means jumping on them with their scratchy paws and covering them in slobber. Gross. You think, “OK, that wasn’t a great start,” and hope to recover the evening. But the rest of the holiday visit is marked by your dog spastically barking when someone new arrives, begging for food at the table, and whining when you finally decide to put them outside or in their kennel due to their bad dog behavior. Your guests end up a little annoyed, your pup ends up in the doghouse (literally), and you end up frustrated and frazzled. If this sounds like the holiday scene at your house, here are the top 5 non-negotiable training skills to ensure good dog behavior and a happy holiday event.
5 Non-Negotiable Training Skills for Good Dog Behavior And Hosting A Happy Holiday Event
1. No Jumping Up!Most dogs are so excited to greet new people they just can’t help but jump all over them and help them feel welcome. They mean well, but this dog behavior is not just annoying—it’s unsafe. Depending on the dog’s size, jumping up on guests can be enough to knock over smaller children or elderly guests. So, unless you want your Thanksgiving dinner to be remembered by “that one time when Buster took out Grandma,” make jumping up on guests a non-negotiable behavior. If your dog doesn’t have a handle on this skill yet, we recommend that, in the least, they remain outside or in a kennel while guests arrive.
2. No Begging!Some people just love sharing scraps from the table with their dog. It makes them happy! And, let’s face it, sometimes it’s just convenient to be able to drop food and have your four-legged Roomba get to work—win-win! However, feeding your dog at the table is not a good habit to establish. It can lead to your bad dog behavior, such as escalated begging by scraping their paw on your leg (or your guest’s), whining, barking, or even stealing food. It’s a bad habit that’s not just irritating for you and your guests but can be bad for their health. (Speaking of which, check on this blog on holiday treats you should never share with your dog!)
3. No Guarding!We’ve all seen the funny home videos of a little chihuahua ferociously protecting their toy, treat, or human as they show their teeth and growl. It’s funny to watch because we know that chihuahuas are a little too tiny to be acting so dangerous. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior can be more dangerous than you think. It’s called “resource guarding,” and it’s basically a dog’s way of saying “mine.” We’ve heard too many stories when a dog guarding their bone, food, toy, or human went from being a simple gesture to becoming a bad bite (sometimes requiring stitches). When you host an event, an unsuspecting child may take something from your dog (like a toy or treat) and end up getting injured. It seems harmless or even funny, but what is going on for the dog is animalistic and dangerous. If your dog shows any signs of resource guarding, we recommend they are not allowed small children and that others are warned beforehand not to interact with the dog when they are resource guarding.
4. No Excessive BarkingLook, dogs love to bark. It’s their job to let us know when the “dangerous” man in the brown uniform is approaching the door with a suspicious-looking parcel. (They’re pretty sure it’s a bomb…actually, it’s always a bomb.) It can be good to have your dog warn you of potential threats. However, if they are taking their guard dog job a little too seriously, it can result in constant and excessive barking that makes it hard to focus, hard to carry on a conversation, and hard to relax! At Dog Gone Amazing, we work with dogs to understand what is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to barking. With e-collar training, you can help your dog learn the “quiet” command and get ahead of excessive barking.
5. No StealingIf it’s not uncommon to leave the room only to find your dog head deep in a knocked-over trash can or “counter surfing” for holiday leftovers…you may have a bit of a food thief on your hands. This is an essential in-home training rule because it’s dangerous for your dog. If they can somehow scheme their way into eating an entire turkey or Aunt Peggy’s pumpkin pie, you better bet they will. And you better bet it could land them at the emergency vet. Food stealing can give your dog access to dangerous things such as turkey bones, bits of plastic, metal lids, and more. We recommend that if your dog has a history of stealing food, or even if they don’t, that you are diligent in blocking access to garbage, push appetizers away from snout-level, and always make sure to pack up leftovers. The holidays can be a very happy time of year for you and your pup, and even happier if they’re trained to show off their excellent dog behavior.
If your dog is guilty of one or more of these bad dog behaviors, give us a call! We offer a variety of training programs to help you get them on track for a better holiday and hospitable experience for your guests.