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As the smells and sights of Christmastime fill the air this time of year, so do emotions of excitement and anticipation. While the holidays are a time of joy for many, the busy schedules leading up to them can leave people overcome with stress and anxiety, and unfortunately our dogs often pick up on these feelings as well. To prevent your restless pup from ravaging the house and misbehaving when guests come over for the holidays, it is important to start preventative training beforehand. Here’s a guide to keeping an energetic or anxious pup in check so the holidays stay cheerful for both humans and our four-legged friends.
Call a Professional
If your dog is still a puppy who likes to play by her own rules, it may be a good idea to enroll her in obedience classes. This may be an especially viable option for those who fear aggressive behaviors from their pooch, which may be triggered when new family or friends come into the picture. If you don’t see yourself being able to train your pup before the holidays, it may be time to call a professional.
Invest in a Crate
A crate can be a very helpful tool in containing an overactive puppy. As soon as you sense your pup getting antsy around guests, it’s time to take a proactive approach by pulling her away from the situation and placing her in a crate. Even if your dog isn’t the type to bite others, new, stressful situations such as a busy holiday get-together may spark behavior you’ve never seen in her before. This is why it pays to have a crate handy, especially for younger dogs whose behavior can be unpredictable. And if you start crate training prior to your event, your dog will be comfortable going in her crate when you ask her to.
Utilize the “Sit” Command
The “sit” command is probably one of the first things you’ll teach your dog to do, and it’s also the foundation of proper obedience. With the right training, this simple command will come in handy to control a jumpy dog who pounces on every guest who enters the door. Now, your guests might not mind if there’s a tiny fur ball scraping at their ankles, but if it’s a larger, more menacing-looking breed who’s practically leaping atop their laps, it may be a cause of concern. Teach your dog to sit when she approaches you, and reward the behavior so she does the same in front of guests. This command also works for when your little beggar comes out during mealtime. Combined with a firm “stay” or “down,” the command can be especially effective. Yet, if you still find your pup pestering your guests for food, then it’s time to break out the crate.
Praise Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement is one of the fundamental techniques to encouraging desired behaviors from your dog. By rewarding her with treats and praise every time she behaves favorably, you can, in theory get your dog to do almost anything. Get your family involved, too! Invite willing guests to praise your dog for good behavior such as sitting and staying away. You can even give a small baggy of dog treats to each guest to use when your pup acts calmly around them. And finally, when you reward the positive, you, your furry best friend and everyone she meets will all benefit.