Increase Fido’s Chances of Success During The Holidays
Barking, anxiousness and excitability often occurs when we’re away from home visiting family and traveling with our furry best friends. “By the time they get to the hotel, their world has been turned upside down and they’re just trying to maintain as much of an even keel as possible. The best thing you can do for your traveling dog is to prepare well ahead of time, to desensitize them to the changes and experiences they’ll be dealing with while on the road. Overcoming anxiety and fear can be a tall order, especially if your dog has had a chance to practice and learn certain behaviors without modification. But since most behavior issues are borne out of anxiety and fear, it’s usually the best place to start in terms of helping your dog become a seasoned holiday traveler,” adds Stilwell.
The key to a dog that behaves well with guests is to plan ahead, she adds. “Work well in advance on your dog’s greeting behavior, and get him used to seeing new people in the house.”
“Dogs that enjoy being around people and have no aggression or behavioral issues don’t need to be put away,” says Dr.Nick Dodman, BVMS, Professor, Section Head and Program Director of the Animal Behavior Department, Tufts, Cummings School of Veterinary Sciences. He recommends using the Gentle Leader, Head Halter. “Aggressive or shy dogs need to be put away in another room away from holiday guests,” explains Dr.Dodman. You can keep Fido entertained with some interactive toys. Try adding some recipes that your dog will enjoy inside of the Kong. First course would be the top layer, second course, second layer, and third course, followed by dessert. He also favors the Squirrel Dude by Kong with freeze dried liver, or as a great source of fun, the Kong Wubba.No one likes being bored, Fido included.Dr.Dodman advises that if your dog is going to be left for an extended period of time in another part of the house, make sure that he has some Kong toys to keep him busy. His pet peeve, the holiday puppy! “Most holiday pups end up at shelters. The holiday puppy should be resting quietly away from all the guests, and should be in another room, where guests can visit if they wish, “adds Dr.Dodman.
“Most dogs jump on people through sheer excitement and because it is an effective means of getting attention,” says Victoria. “But some jump because they feel uneasy when someone new comes into the home, and jumping is an effective way to cope with that discomfort. The best way to stop your dog from jumping up is to ignore her while she’s doing it.”
Victoria suggests the following five training steps
1. Each time your dog jumps up at you, turn your back.
2. Do not look at, talk to, or touch your dog at any time. Fold your arms in front of you so that you become boring.
3. When he stops jumping, wait for three seconds of four paws on the floor, then reward the self-control with your attention.
4. If he jumps again, repeat the exercise.
5. Practice this with friends and family members for consistency.
Not everyone likes dogs, and some are even frightened of them. Not every dog likes strangers either. In situations like this, it’s best to give everyone their personal space, and not force interactions. “To avoid an unpleasant situation, if you have visitors who are scared of dogs, the kindest and safest thing to do for all concerned is to put your dog in another room or contain him safely behind a baby gate,” says Victoria.
Is it the dog that’s scared? “Aggressive or shy dogs need to be put in another room away from holiday guests,” says Dr. Nick Dodman of the Animal Behavior Department at the Cummings School of Veterinary Sciences. Keep in mind that a stressed or reactive canine is much more likely to bite someone than a dog who loves being around people.
“Small dogs feel especially vulnerable because of their size, and feel the need to defend themselves from people who loom over them as they bend down to say hello,” says Victoria. “If you have a reactive dog of any size, use safe management techniques to avoid any issues. If you can’t contain your dog, tell your guests not to pay him any attention when they first come in. If the dog continues to be fearful, tell visitors to ignore him for the duration of their stay. This takes the pressure off everyone and gives them much-needed space.”
If you put your dog in another part of the house, away from the action, be sure to give him something to keep him occupied. If he’s going to be left in another room on his own for an extended period, advises Dr. Dodman, make sure he has some toys to keep him busy. Interactive toys, such as a Kong stuffed with healthy treats or food, are best.
Begging at the table is a common complaint from dog parents, yet many consistently reinforce this unwanted behavior by giving treats from their plates.
“The best way to prevent begging is to never feed your dogs from the dinner table,” says Stilwell. “If you have a dog prone to doing this, get in his way.” Block his path with your body and say “back” while waving him off, but do not physically move him or yell at him. Blocking is how dogs control space with other dogs; by doing this yourself, you’re clearly communicating to him that you want your space while at the dining table.
“If you need to move your dog into another room, you will not be reinforcing bad behavior,” adds Victoria. “You will instead be moving him from temptation, and setting him up for success by not giving him the ability to practice the begging behavior.”
“To avoid an unpleasant situation, if you have visitors that are scared of dogs, then the kindest and safest thing to do for them and your dog, is to put your dog in another room or contain him safely behind a baby gate,” adds Stilwell. Dog bites tend to increase during the holiday times, so you can virtually eliminate the potential of anything bad happening by managing the situation effectively, especially if you have young children visiting, advises Stilwell. “Small dogs feel especially vulnerable because of their size and feel the need to defend themselves from people who loom over them as they bend down to say hello. If you have a reactive dog of any size, use safe management techniques to avoid any issues. If you can’t contain your dogs, tell your guests not to pay them attention when they first come in, and during their stay if your dogs continue to be fearful. This takes the pressure off everyone and gives much needed space. Small kids can stimulate a dog’s chase or prey drive or can cause discomfort with their energy and noise level,” explains Stilwell.
Whether you consider your furry- best friend to be an indispensable part of your holiday planning or not, chances are that you’ve encountered some embarrassing moments. The good news is that by embracing your dog’s mindset, you can ensure more often than not that Fido will be well-behaved during the holidays. The key to success is to “ Plan ahead! If you know how your dog will be in a situation where they’ll be meeting a lot of friends and family members over the course of several days, work well ahead of time on their greeting behavior, and get them used to seeing new people come through the door. As with most dog training, a great goal is for you to make yourself and your environment ‘boring’. If the dog feels that’s it’s no big deal when the doorbell rings, or when a new person sits on their favorite couch, or when there are a lot of people around the dining room table, they won’t feel a need to respond. This will lead to a more peaceful holiday season for you and your dogs, “says Stilwell.
Throw A Holiday Tea Party For Pets
“The most important thing to remember is to be respectful of your guests. If you have a group of friends who are excited about bringing their pets to a holiday party, by all means enjoy the holiday season with your pet. However, if you are hosting a holiday party and you have a mixed group of people, some perhaps with pet allergies, it would be best to throw a separate holiday party and perhaps host a “Holiday Tea for Pets and Their Parents”, where you know that everyone would be open to pets being invited,” says national etiquette and modern manners expert, Diane Gottsman.Her pet peeves include “dressing your pet up in unsafe or uncomfortable holiday costumes, and subjecting your guests to pets that are not well-behaved.”
Again, the time to start teaching your dog “petiquette” is not when guests arrive. Start the training well in advance, preferably when the dog is young, and practice the lessons on a regular basis. That way, he’ll be on his best behavior for the festive season – and all year round. For more on the article, visit: Animal Wellness.
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