Home For the Holidays With Your Dog

Your dog is a pack animal. She enjoys being part of the group, and would love to be included in even the most raucous family events. But not everyone coming over for the holidays may be comfortable with dogs. And in some cases such as a dinner, she could really be in the way. So establishing a happy medium is necessary. 

Start by establishing some rules and teaching your dog how to behave among company.

Rule# 1 – No rushing the door when the bell rings.

Rule #2 – No jumping on guests.

Rule #3 – Stay on the pet bed, in the crate or in a back room during meals and as needed. 

Rule #4 – No begging.

Rule #5 – Stay away from the fireplace and candles.

If you have guests over often, it might be good to go ahead and invest in a crate and comfortable bed. Get your pet accustomed to staying in her own special areas, or in a back room with treats, toys and perhaps a radio playing calming music.   

You can practice making her stay in her pet bed by walking a few feet away, and then giving her a treat for staying in place, moving farther back each time, until she understands that you are not banishing her, but that this is her special throne from which to observe the festivities. 

You can establish a room in the back of the house as her private retreat with bedding, toys, snacks, water and soft music. Help her learn how to be comfortable alone in this room for short periods to start with, and lengthen the time a little bit each day. Then your guests will be able to enjoy their party while your puppy enjoys a little ‘me’ time.

Other training to consider: No jumping on guests, and no begging. You’ll also have to train your guests not to feed her.

Fireplaces, candles and tails have an adversarial relationship. If possible, teach your dog to stay away from the fireplace. If setting out candles, make sure they are displayed in places where she can’t  knock them over accidentally. 

Before your event, take your pup for a day at the doggie spa. Her clean, shiny coat, pleasant smell and trimmed nails will be appreciated by your guests.

Let your invitees know in advance that you have a pet, in case they have allergies or anxieties about dogs. This may be the determining factor whether your dog gets to join in the fun, or if she should sit this one out.

When your guests start arriving, things can get hectic. Have someone designated as a watcher to make sure she stays out of trouble. It can be easy to overlook your excitable pet as she runs to the door to greet everyone. So make sure her vaccinations are up to date and that she is microchipped, in case she wanders out.

Keep your guest’s coats, packages and purses in a closed closet so that your dog doesn’t find and swallow anything she shouldn’t such as batteries, medications, alcohol, chocolate or xylitol artificial sweetener. These can be deadly. 

Although not invited to dinner, your dog may see nothing wrong with helping herself to the open buffet, snacks left on the coffee table, kitchen leftovers or the trash can. This is another reason why you need a dedicated watcher for her. 

If your pet is too excitable for social situations, the best idea might be to board her for the duration or have someone pet-sit her at their house. 

Although we would love to have our faithful dog by our side all the time, it will take some training on your part for her to learn manners when having guests over. Done right, this can be a lovely holiday gathering for everyone.

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.