Doggy Holiday Manners

dog training holidays

Doggy Holiday Manners

Let's Be Real about the Holidays with Our Pups

The holidays are upon us.  If you know me, you will know I'm a HUGE holiday fan.  Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Yule...almost all cultures that have a cold season break out the festivities midwinter to celebrate the solstice and break the winter blues.  I love it all. I guess some people might dread the chaos that comes with it, but not me.  Heck, I live with tons of boarders most of the time.  We are not afraid of noise at Camp Sammy.  Chaos, noise, family and friends, festivities, and of course out furry friends- it is all part of a rambunctious perfect package that is the holiday season.

Holiday puppy
He's so ready for the Howlidays
Many of my clients squeeze in last minute lessons, dreading how their dogs will fare with all the new opportunities to misbehave.  With more kids and elderly visitors to knock down, more food to steal, more new objects to pilfer or possibly swallow, the holidays do pose some hazards for your pup.  See my article on Christmas Safety: Dogs and Christmas Safety

There are a few things you can do to help your pup succeed with all these new challenges:

1. Put her leash on- it is ok to have your dog have a short leash and attach it to a flat collar.  Let her drag it around (maybe wash it every couple days...).  It's a nice ready handle to use if she starts tackling toddlers or jumping on Grandma.  Do not put it on a slip-mechanism collar, because she could get it caught on something and it becomes a choking hazard.  Take it off when you cannot watch her.

2. Manage his space-  (See article on Time and Space) Use his crate and playpen.  If you are in search of a playpen, I like this type:
32" x 73" Exercise Pen, Metal Tube Fence - Heavy Duty Folding Yard Playpen for Pets - 8 Panel 32 H" by 73" Octagon Diameter
climber husky
The playpen would not work for this dog, for instance
They make them in varying heights- get an appropriate height for your dog.  Do not but a fabric kiddie playpen- your dog will just eat his way to freedom and your apple pies.  A word of caution- if you dog is a climber, he can get his leg caught in the panels, so this may not be a safe option for you.  It's great, however, for the grounded dogs without designs being monkeys.  If you are not at home- the crate is the safest place for your dog.

3.  Put food out of reach.  If kids are running around with snatch-able morsels, then put doggy in a different place.  Here is a fun story:  The first Christmas I brought my new rescue dog home, I come into the kitchen on Christmas Day to see my dad giggling.  My dad is a burly man, reminiscent of a gorilla, so him giggling was suspect.  What was so funny to him?  My dog standing with his forelegs wrapped around the Christmas ham, happily grooming it....I watched the months of training swirling down the drain with each greedy lick.  Of course my dad just watched and laughed....I was not happy. My dad's reasoning was "It's not his fault- he's tall."  Riiiiight.

funny dog
That's my dad.  Yes, he has a cookie in his mouth
But maybe the laughing is a good lesson.  So many people stress about the holidays ruining their dogs.  And while we do have to do certain things to keep our pups safe during these happy times, it should not be a source of huge worry.  Look at all the chaos as a bundle of training opportunities.  My mom calls them "teachable moments."  Some you will catch and some you will not.  Things will calm down after the holidays and you can work on fixing any bad habits they might have picked up (from your laughing father).

Should you let your dog help unwrap gifts on Christmas morning?  Probably not, but do it anyway!  It's once a year and it's so much fun!  You got your dog to be a pet- enjoy your pet!  Do not let them eat copious amounts of wrapping paper, but a little fun will not hurt.  Please excuse the quality of my pictures- I am not always the best photographer.  This is Whuffo reveling in Christmas morning and all of its glory.
holiday puppy
holiday puppy

holiday puppy
He's so happy

Do dogs remember the fun of ripping open holiday presents?  Yes...they learn about what the holidays mean and have a sort of understanding of it.  They cannot read calendars but dogs are very schedule oriented.  When they see the signs (trees going up, pretty lights, etc.), as they begin to know what it means over the years.  Does that mean your dog also loves Christmas?  Yep.  They may not have a total understanding of it in the two-legged people sense, but they do recognize it, enjoy it, and look forward to it.

So will you have to put your wrapped gifts out of reach next year?  Most likely.  But it is not that big of a hardship.  And it is worth it to enjoy the holiday with your dog- he is after all, a furry member of your family.  Sometimes we get too caught up in having the perfect dog, and need to realize that we have the perfect dog for us, even if they are not perfect themselves.  Enjoy them.  

My book that I am working on publishing is called Let's Be Real About Dogs.  It's a pragmatic and funny dog training book and the premise is to be very down to earth about life with dogs.  We might not admit it, but everyone hates the busybody dog-moms that tell you exactly how to have a perfect dog 24/7, being prim and proper (and judgy), with their perfect robot dogs.  Here's a fun secret: it is no fun to have a robot dog.  It is no fun to maintain the robot behavior in the robot dog.  Can I tell you how to do it?  Sure.  But you are going to be living for your dog, rather than living with your dog.  I would much rather have a fun life with my reasonably well-behaved but still human (yes, I believe dogs are people) jerk-dog.  But the choice is yours.  I can teach you to robot all around with your dog (not my favorite lessons but I offer tailored training, so if that's what you want, that is what you will get).  Or you can use the tips above to help your dog mostly behave during the holidays, and not stress about it.

Wishing all of you dog-lovers a Happy Howliday!

Sammy the Dog Trainer

P.S. If you want to help me publish my book, follow, subscribe, and share my blog.  Feliz Naughty Dog!


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