The holiday season is upon us. Our lives are busy with decorating, shopping and visitors.
It is fun, but stressful, especially for our dogs. Think about it. Dogs love a routine. The holidays get us crazy. We put trees in our living rooms and blinking light on our houses. The neighborhood yards sprout fat men in red suits, reindeer and blow up snowmen. It is no wonder their behavior becomes erratic. So does ours.
This is the time of year when people become bothered by their pet’s behavior. If you have not taken the time to train your dog, it is painfully obvious. Friends and family are jumped on and hounded for attention. A gift certificate for dog training is in order for you.
But what about dogs that are usually well behaved? Now their lives are disrupted and they are confused. They go out to go potty and Santa is waving. They go for a walk and reindeer are blinking. These dogs need to be reassured that life as they know it will resume after Christmas.
Try to keep your routine as normal as possible. Take Spot for his walk. Let him look at the decorations. If it is safe, let him come up for a closer look. Praise him for being brave and carry on. If Spot is too fearful, use a happy voice and keep on moving. Do not let him get into a tizzy. Bill Campbell calls this the jolly routine. Jolly Spot up, tell him he is a silly pup and merrily stroll along. If it is not a big deal to you, it will not be a big deal to your dog.
If you have many visitors, consider your dog’s personality. Some dogs love company and wish they would never leave. Some dogs get overwhelmed. If your dog is in the second category, maybe you should put him in his crate as guests arrive. Bring him out a bit later, on lead, after things have calmed down. Allow some visiting. If Spot seems relaxed, keep him out longer. If he is stressed, back to the crate with a lovely chew reward. It is not punishment to crate him. It is relief and safety.
Some people like to take their dogs with them for holiday fun. Again, judge your pets’ personality. If you live alone and rarely have visitors, chances are Spot will not enjoy the buffet dinner with thirty guests, excited children and all of the chaos that goes with it. Maybe boarding your dog is a better solution. Then you can enjoy your family and friends. I think that is what the holiday season is about.
Try to look at the holidays from a dog point of view. Anticipate worrisome situations. Keep your dog safe and happy. Keep your routine as normal as possible. And fill his doggie life with love!
Cissy Sumner, CPDT-KA is Vero’s first Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed. If you have a question about training or behavior, email Cissy at www.bestbehaviordogtraining.org. Please include your hometown.