May 24, 2013
With Memorial Day on the horizon and summer festivities about to begin, Poncho and I thought we’d help set the stage for keeping inquisitive canines happy and safe when attending and/or co-hosting various events, parties, and barbecues.
Reward your pup for ignoring “forbidden items”, especially the barbecue! Say they walk by it and decides to stay away. Whether you’ve asked them to or not, they should be thanked. Acknowledge with anything they find motivating to reinforce that behavior. Use praise, petting, a game of fetch or tug, and even a yummy treat to make an impact.
Teach “down-stay” in one location: Train your dog to perform a settle down-stay on a bed, towel or mat. Reward for being on their “magic carpet” — all good things happen when they’re hanging out on their mat. If they start to wander toward the BBQ, you can ask to come to you and/or for them to “leave it!” – as soon as they come away from it, reward heavily. If they opt for pushing the limits, you can send them indoors (remove from the “fun”). After a minute or so, allow them to return to their special mat and reward for being there. They should soon learn this distinction: “Hmm, if I stay on my blankie, I get treats and I get to hang out. If I wander toward the hot thing with food on it, I end up inside … bummer.” Dogs are pretty clever, and soon learn what the better choice is.
A few additional BBQ Dos and Don’ts:
- DO arrange your dog’s environment (enclose outdoors or use a barricade if needed) to prevent access to grill.
- DON’T leave your dog unattended outside with the grill on at any time. Paws, muzzles, mouths and tongues can get burned easily – and badly!
- DO keep your dog inside the house or tethered to those who aren’t manning the grill, if barricading outside isn’t possible.
- DON’T create an unintentional “time-out” by sequestering your dog to an area without anything to do while everyone else is have fun.
- DO spend a bit of time teaching and practicing safe grill behaviors with your dog before guests arrive.
Teaching your dog to be the #1 grill master, remember to combine the basics with an emphasis on rewarding any and all behaviors you want! Also keep in mind that dress rehearsals are key – especially since barbecues and daily-life chaos tend to keep us preoccupied.