Yesterday, as we all know, was Thanksiving Day, another opportunity to spend our time with friends and family dear to our hearts. For those of us who are especially lucky, perhaps we even got to spend the holiday alongside our furry friends.
If you aren't one of the lucky few with well behaved dogs when you host gatherings in your home, read along to find out some tips about preparing for the next holiday party!
Exercise -- every dog needs exercise daily, but even more so when additional stimuli and stress will be put on your dog while hosting company. Go for high intensity, short duration, or long duration, low intensity (i.e. flirt pole play in the back yard for 10 minutes or 30 minute walk in the woods)
Long duration chew toys or food puzzles -- just like kids at a restaurant with coloring books, dogs needs to know what they are supposed to do in stimulating environments that are unnatural to their nervous system. Try elk antlers (before your guests actually come over to ensure your dog approves your selection for them, every dog's chewing needs are different), himalayan dog chewsor a packed, frozen kong. Make sure your dog has a quiet space where they can chew on their bone undisturbed.
Relaxation training -- this one can be the most challenging for owners because it requires consistent training, and, to be honest, the training can be somewhat boring, but rest assured, the work pays off! Follow these videos to teach your dog how to relax, long before you actually have company over! (Relaxation Protocol Day 1 - YouTube)
Practice -- practice makes better. If you don't usually have company over, practice by having a friend or neighbor come over and spend time at your home. This will give you the opportunity to practice relaxation training while your guest is present.
All dogs are different, if your dog is expereincing difficulty when guests come over by displaying aggressive behavior, please reach out for support. You don't need to do this alone.
Remember that practice builds confidence. Practice the behaviors you want to see more of in different environments and with lots of reinforcement.