Canine good manners are always a great idea, but they become extra important around the holidays, when your pooch may find themselves around unfamiliar people, in new places, and otherwise a bit out of their element! Harness the work you’ve already done teaching your dog good manners, and remember the following important skills for happy holidays with your canine companion.
- Polite greeting: Use the protocol we outlined in this post about Halloween safety to make sure that your dog and your guests are safe and comfortable when people come and go in your home.
- Walking nicely: Your dog may have mastered loose leash walking in your neighborhood, now that you’ve read our posts on the subject, Mastering the Art of Loose Leash Walking and Red Light Green Light. The holidays often leave dogs in unfamiliar situations or being walked by unfamiliar people, so this is a great time to refresh those skills! A good custom fit dog harness will also help manage pulling in even the most exuberant of dogs.
- Going to a crate, mat, or bed: Having a safe place where your dog can rest and be confined is always a great idea, but it’s a must when life gets hectic. The creator of the Happy Harness, certified professional dog trainer Joan Hunter Mayer, provides details on the importance of crate training here. Your dog can also learn to settle on a mat, towel or rug on cue and stay there, although this will take some work, patience, practice, and lots of rewards! If you can do so safely, you may also tether your dog by affixing a leash to a solid piece of furniture, banister, or other heavy object, and then attaching it to their comfortable dog harness. This can keep them from racing out an open door, jumping on guests, begging at the table, or contributing to the chaos of a busy house! (Don’t forget, tethered dogs should never be left unattended!)
- Leave it: Another cue that takes tons of practice and high-value rewards, a well-trained “leave it” cue can be the difference between your dog stealing a pot roast off the counter and your dinner being safe (and delicious!). A qualified dog trainer can talk you through teaching your pup this valuable skill. It simply involves making it clear to the dog via repetition that there is something wonderful to be had if they move away from the item they are considering going for – kind of a “treat in the owner’s hand is worth two on the counter” situation, if you will. Again, if your dog can’t yet be trusted to respond to “leave it” consistently, crating or tethering is a better option.
The time to start working on the manners your dog will need this holiday season is now! Hopefully you have many of these tricks up your sleeve already, and you can just do a bit of a refresher to brush up any rusty cues. As we’ve noted managing your dog’s environment and their behavior by confining them in a crate or on a leash and dog harness is another way to keep everyone safe and happy during the holiday season and throughout the year!