Helping Your Dog Adjust To House Guests

With guests coming over, it’s always good to have a plan in place for your fur family members long before the visitors arrive. 

Here are a few suggestions to help your dog adjust to the change in routine, and the many exciting new smells and personalities – and maybe food – coming into the house.

For very active dogs or those still in training, it might be best to get a crate that is big enough for her to stand and turn around in, with padded bedding, plus water and food bowls. 

Consider putting a pretty covering over the crate to make it cozy for her, while leaving her door side open so she can watch the activities. 

Designate one person to be responsible for your dog’s care and whereabouts during your event. 

When she stays in her crate during get-togethers, she should be taken for a walk every hour or so to stretch her legs.

Help your dog become accustomed to staying in her private crate ‘playhouse’ by making it a happy place where she feels safe. First, leave the door open so she can get used to it without feeling trapped. Then start closing the door for small amounts of time, with lots of praise. Gradually build the length of time she stays closed in, as she becomes confident that you will come back for her.

A mature dog may not need a crate, but can learn that her place is her dog bed, not the sofa,  when she is with guests and family, or else in a closed, quiet bedroom away from the fuss.  Teach her (and her tail) to stay away from candles and the fireplace. And teach her how to respond to new people politely by waiting for them to invite her to interact.

Some families may want to cordon off their dog from festivities, yet let them be partially involved, by using a baby gate. This doesn’t always work well if your dog can jump. 

Before your event, take your pup for a day at the doggie spa so she will smell and look her best. Make sure all of her vaccinations are up to date and that she is microchipped. Make sure your guests know you have a dog, in case they are allergic.

If you want to introduce her to guests, keep her on a leash so she can’t jump up to say hello, or run out the door. You might tell guests about her training, or remind them that they mustn’t feed her anything, no matter how adorable she acts.

For lots of doorbell-ringing, loud parties, kid’s parties or New Year’s Eve, if the excitement is going to be too much for your anxious pet, try soothing her with comforters such as a Thundercoat, a favorite toy or blanket, or use a pheromone diffuser in her safe room or a calming collar. If she is still too nervous for some events, it might be better for her to stay with an offsite dog sitter, or to board her for the night.

Your gathering should be a happy occasion for everyone involved, including your dog. A little preparation and training can help her to know how to behave when guests arrive.

Heron’s Crossing provides end-of-life care for pets in the Metro Atlanta area. In-home appointments with compassionate vets are available. If you’d prefer a home-like setting away from your home, our Decatur office is also available by appointment.