This month’s behavior blog is all about getting ready for visitors and their canines. We’ve talked about how to set dogs up for success with gentle introductions and what some of the basic ground rules are for dogs coming together in the resident dogs’ home. Today, our focus is on keeping things sane and safe over a period of days.
As you get ready for your holiday trip, you can be thinking about which of these tips are the easiest for you to suggest to your host or to put into place if you are hosting guests with dogs who are family!
Did you ever have a substitute teacher in school who made the mistake of giving the class too much freedom the first few days? By the end of the week, chaos reigned! Then there was the teacher
Then there was the teacher that you thought was awfully restrictive at first… but by the end of the week, she was able to relax the rules and give more freedom? Be smart. Keep your dog or even both dogs, on leashes with an attentive
Keep your dog or even both dogs, on leashes with an attentive adult for the first few days and forego the drama that comes with space guarding, inappropriate play in the house, random scuffles over hidden treasures and other issues. Instead, wear a treat pouch filled with your dog’s kibble and high-value yummy treats to feed your dog for great behavior. Do this a few days and by the end of the week, you’ll most likely have set some pretty good habits in place and be able to relax your standards a bit while maintaining your dog’s great behavior through occasional food rewards.
I can’t say enough about having hard chews available for stressed dogs. You can have a glass of wine, read a book, or otherwise take yourself away from the action… But your dog is pretty stuck in terms of choices. Chewing is a huge stress reliever for most dogs. Have a variety of options, following advice from your veterinarian for chew strength and material, but have them available.
When you see your dog getting antsy, offer a chew item. When your dog is whining for attention, give her a chew item. When your dog is frustrated or anxious, get him chewing! At our house, we use a variety of hard and
At our house, we use a variety of hard and cornstarch nylabones, flip-chip style rawhides (no knotted ones as dogs can choke!), an occasional hoof or bully stick and lots, and lots of stuffed, frozen Kongs. You can also try freezing large ice cubes of treats and water in reused yogurt tubs – simply pop the treat out of the plastic before serving to the dog. Be sure that all dogs are separated while enjoying these
Be sure that all dogs are separated while enjoying these high-value items. Again, expecting dogs to share is to not understand that dogs are hard-wired to savor and protect their food items.
Both introvert and extrovert dogs can benefit from a daily long walk while visiting or while putting up with visitors. I think it’s pretty great for the people, too! A nice long walk gets the dog out of the confined environment, fills his head with a kaleidoscope of scent and is mentally and physically tiring. Using the large major muscles can also alleviate stress, too.
Try to take your daily walk at the same time each day so the dogs can rely on the routine. You can invite the other family members and their dogs and make it a group outing or you can go it alone – either way, you and your dog will be better off for getting out and clearing your heads.
Getting together with family and friends for the holidays is a lot of fun and with a little preparation and forethought can be a great time for your family dog, too. If you would like some personalized coaching, feel free to contact us at Behavior@whs4pets.org or check out our Holiday Manners Tune-Up class, which is only 2-weeks long and will help you get ready for the challenges ahead. Later this week, we’ll finish up this blog series with some great games that you can play with family members and their dogs which builds another level of enjoyment to your time together.
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