Written By: Maria Stouffer, Training Director at Playful Pups Retreat and Owner of Full Potential Dog Training
This is a celebratory time of year when holiday gatherings are enjoyed by many. If you are like me and love to host events at your home, you will appreciate these tips that will help both you and your dog have a fun, festive and stress-free time.
In this article we continue a series related to our A to Z Day Training Program, we are working through the alphabet of dog training topics, and today E is for “events”! The A to Z Day Training program is designed to help you set your dog up for a lifetime of success, including at holiday events.
When it comes to holiday gatherings with dogs, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
Guest Interaction: If your dogs are comfortable around guests, make sure to introduce them slowly to new people. Some dogs may feel overwhelmed, so it’s essential to monitor their behavior and provide a quiet space if needed. For example, I have guests arrive through a side door of my house to not trigger them over and over as can often happen at the front door.
Dog Friendly Spaces: Designate a dog-friendly area where your dogs can retreat if they need a break from the festivities. Ensure this space has their water bowl, toys, and a comfortable bed. Consider having a frozen kong filled with your dog’s favorite treat, such as pumpkin, peanut butter or yogurt to occupy them if they need a break.
Training and Behavior: If your dog is still in training or has specific behavioral concerns, inform your guests about any rules or guidelines when interacting with your pets. Another suggestion is to keep a bowl of yummy treats available so guests can reward your dog when they display good behavior. This is your furry family member, so it is important to advocate for their emotional and physical well-being…even though you love your friends and family remember….it is your responsibility to ensure your dog is safe and happy during an event.
Food Safety: Be cautious about food left within reach of your dog. Some holiday foods can be harmful to pets, so make sure to keep an eye on what your dogs may have access to during the gathering and ensure guests know not to feed your dog any human food.
Routine and Schedule: I talk about this a lot when teaching in our A to Z Day Training Program and my Puppy Manners Class at Playful Pups Retreat. Dogs get used to their schedules. Try to stick to your dogs’ regular routine as much as possible, especially regarding feeding and walks. This can help them feel more comfortable and reduce stress during your holiday party.
Socialization (or maybe not): If your dogs are socialized and enjoy being around people, holiday gatherings can be an excellent opportunity for positive social experiences. However, if they are not used to large crowds or new environments, take it slow. Some dogs do not enjoy the excitement of large crowds and will be happier in the dog friendly space mentioned earlier or may be more comfortable at a pet care facility for the night. Many pet parents board their dogs overnight at Playful Pups Retreat when having holiday parties, remember you are your dog’s advocate, so set them up for success.
Decorations: If you decorate your home for the holidays, make sure that any decorations are safe for dogs. Avoid using items that could be harmful if ingested or pose a choking hazard.
Identification: Ensure that your dogs have proper identification in case they accidentally get out during the event. This is especially important if there will be a lot of people coming and going, but the chance you an escape can be minimized by following the above guidance.
Remember, every dog is unique, so tailor your approach based on your dog’s individual personality and needs. We would love to be your partner in your dog training journey! Learn more about our A to Z Day Training Program here.