The bustle of the Holidays is among us! And if your house is anything like mine, nobody is more excited about it than the family pet. From food on the table and lots of visitors, to fun-to-shred packages under the Christmas tree, there is a lot for your pups to be excited about. But how do you turn them off. . . or at least tone them down a little when you need to? Here are a few tricks:
Run, Run Rudolph
Want your dog to sit by the fire like that Labrador in the L.L. Bean catalogue? Well guess what, that Lab is probably calm because he just got finished with a big run! We may prefer to hibernate at home when it gets chilly outside, but our pets sure don’t. Many people report that their pets get into more trouble or seem to be more rambunctious in the house when cold weather hits, and don’t realize that it is probably because they are getting less exercise. So if you are having a party (or going to one) at night, you’d better schedule a brisk run with your dogs on the to-do list for the day.
Christmas cookies on the coffee table and a turkey cooling on your counter makes for a drooling dog who is just waiting for you to leave the room so he can steal a bite. Time to teach a ‘Leave It’ command! To teach ‘Leave It,’ place your dog into a sit, and put a treat on the floor. Cover the treat up with your hand and command ‘Leave It’ to your dog. Now wait him out (as he tries desperately to move your hand!) until he gives up trying to get the treat. Once he leaves the treat, pick it up and reward him with a treat from your other hand. Got that one down pat? Next try putting something at eye level on a coffee table or countertop. Repeat this exercise all over your house until your dog is leaving things with ease.
I’m a huge proponent of crating dogs. And even though my dogs no longer have to stay in their crates when we are out of the house, they know how to settle into a crate when they need to. Crates can be your saving grace if your dog becomes rambunctious around visitors and you don’t have the time to watch him like a hawk. Some dogs experience stress around large groups of people. In these cases, crating your dog in a quiet room may be the best thing to calm him.
Also, keep in mind that while our four-footed companions may be like children to us, some family members or friends may not be so fond of dogs – even if they are super friendly. If that is the case, crating your dog away from company will do the trick to keep everyone feeling safe and happy. Just make sure that your dog got a good walk, run or play session before spending time in the crate, and give him something to occupy his mind (special chewies or stuffed Kongs always do the trick) to keep him from barking or howling.
The holidays are a great time to enjoy with our families and our pets. And by following these few tips, you can ensure that friends, family and four-legged loves all enjoy the festivities frazzle-free!