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Unleashing Your Dog’s Best Behavior Around the Holidays

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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

Dogs jump to greet. That is their species-specific way of saying, “How do you do?” For teaching our canine companions the art of how to meet us humans, use the protocol we outlined in this greeting politely blog series to make sure that your dog and your guests are safe and comfortable when people come and go in and out of your home.

Walking Nicely (on Leash)

Your dog may have mastered loose leash walking in your own neighborhood, but holidays often leave dogs in unfamiliar situations or being walked by unfamiliar people, so this is a great time to refresh those skills! This DIY series post on leash walking skills can help you and your inquisitive canine brush up. To learn about how dogs generalize (and don’t generalize) behaviors, check out this informative post. 

Going to a Crate, Mat, or Bed

Having an alternate and/or safe place where your dog can rest and sometimes be confined is always a great idea, but it’s a must when life gets hectic and you get distracted. Your dog can learn to go to their crate or settle on a mat, towel or rug on cue – and stay there. This will take some work, patience, practice, and lots of rewards, but it’s doable! Just a few simple steps can help get you there. This ‘go to your place‘ post lays it all out.  

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 the leash 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! (Remember, tethered dogs should never be left unattended!) 

Leave it!

Another cue that takes practice, repetition (more practice), and high-value rewards is a well-trained “leave it” cue. This can be the difference between your dog stealing a pot roast off the counter and your dinner being safe (and delicious!) – or your dog going after something that could harm them – or harm the thing they’re chasing. 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. 

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, when we’re not training we need to manage our dog’s environment. This will ensure everyone – dogs and humans – are safe and happy during the holiday season and throughout the year!

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