So it’s Halloween and holiday seasons are coming up soon! Are you and the pooches ready for it? Festive times usually mean visitors: friends, new acquaintances, family. How does your dog respond to this?
I hope that you have done some work throughout the year on calm approaches to doorbells and the inherent excitement that visitors bring. Here are a couple of quick tips to make your upcoming festivities less stressful!
Do some training exercises before the big day. Doorbells and knocks on the door are an instant stimulus for a lot of dogs. Someone arriving at your house does not mean out of control behavior, no matter what size of dog you have.
Stay calm even when YOU are excited to see your guests. Your dog feeds off your energy.
Putting the dog in another room never allows either of you to work through the things you want changed. Be firm, and remember that after the guests leave, your furry friend is still with you ready to do what you want them to do. Give them direction!
If your dog is still a work in progress, advise your guests to do three simple things (and this is hard to do for humans): No touch, no talk, no eye contact until calm submission is demonstrated.
Jumping dogs are probably the most common complaint. Do not (and don’t have your guests) back away from the dog or lean over the dog. These behaviors by humans invite a jump. If you have a visitor who is a bit more frail, claim the space and require your dog to be calm and give space. If the dog jumps, walk into the dog and be firm about following through. You want your dog to give everyone respectable space so require that before you turn away. Remember: the less sound, the better.
Hopefully you have worked on food/candy grabbing behaviors. Remember that many dogs can be affected by eating chocolate and other food items. If you haven’t done the work in advance, keep treats out of reach and make sure that your dog has something healthy to snack on and keep them busy.
Lastly, have fun and stop worrying/micromanaging your dog. EXPECT wanted behaviors and your dog has a greater chance of succeeding. Expect unwanted behaviors, and your dog will still succeed in bringing you your wish!
Until next time, have fun with friends, family, and newcomers as well as your dog!