Over the holidays, it’s fun to introduce your dog to your friends and family members. But your dog may not be so thrilled, especially if you’ll be hosting a holiday party with lots of guests entering your home. Use these tips to help your dog feel safe and comfortable during parties so they too can enjoy this holiday season.
Create A Calming Environment
If your holiday party will last several hours, it’s unrealistic to expect your dog to handle the extra stimulation for the entire time, no matter how much they may enjoy the attention.
Your dog’s crate is a great place for them to relax quietly. Ideally, you will have begun crate training before your festivities so your dog will be able to rest there calmly without barking.
Let Guests Settle In
The front door will be a stressful place during the holidays as guests come in and out. Your dog may start barking, or even dash out the door. It’s best to keep your dog in a quiet room when guests arrive and as they leave.
Wait for guests to sit down and relax before bringing the dog near them. Dogs tend to be more comfortable around strangers who are seated and are not too loud. While you might be concerned about showing children how to treat your dog gently, remember that even some adults may need to be told how to handle your dog. Guests should not pet the dog on the top of the head or try to pick them up.
Always Supervise Dogs And Kids
Children, especially those under 12 years old, have a difficult time reading a dog’s body language. Dogs may become frightened or feel the urge to chase kids that are screaming and running around. Let kids know that they cannot hug and kiss your dog, nor should they ever give your dog treats without asking or approach your dog while either of them are eating.
Even dogs that love kids could potentially bite them if they feel threatened. Kids are vulnerable to bites on the face and neck, as they tend to try to hug and kiss dogs as they would stuffed animals. It’s best to supervise dogs and kids closely when they’re together. Speak up for your dog if they show signs of discomfort, such as pinned ears, yawning, licking their lips, turning away or showing the whites of their eyes.
Use A Lead
A regular lead can be used indoors to keep your dog under control. It’s especially handy if your dog gets too enthusiastic while greeting guests, especially if they don’t want your dog to jump on them while they’re wearing their nice holiday outfits. You can keep your dog on-lead until you’re sure that they can handle the freedom to calmly walk around the room to greet people or find a place to lay down.
Do not use the lead to force your dog to be near people. Your dog should be able to choose not to greet someone if they feel scared.
Play Guest-Friendly Games
Your dog can bond with your guests by playing easy games with them. If your dog likes to play fetch, you can encourage guests to take turns throwing the toy. You can even play “doggy in the middle” by having guests stand in a circle and toss a durable toy like Kong Ballistic Glider back and forth and your dog runs from person to person. Be sure to let the dog win every now and then so they do not get frustrated.
The Cup Game is another fun activity for parties. Flip over three plastic cups and place a smelly treat like Serrano Turkey Snacks under one of them, then switch around the cups so your dog cannot tell by sight which one holds the treat. Let your dog use their sense of smell to find the cup with the treat.