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5 Tips to Keep the Peace Between Holiday Guests and Your Dogs

Even though our dogs may be angels the rest of the year, when company comes over, another side may come out.

 |  Dec 24th 2013  |   1 Contribution


It’s the time of year when you probably have friends and relatives stopping by or staying at your house, and this may be more activity than your dog is normally accustomed to. Your guests may include children, people who don’t have dogs and even people who are scared of dogs.

Even though our dogs may be angels the rest of the year, when company comes over, another side may come out. Take, for example, Raffi, a Goldendoodle, who on Thanksgiving took advantage of the situation when a new guest arrived and made off with the goat cheese and crackers. Later, he snuck into the kitchen during dinner and scored a turkey leg.

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Your dog's appetite is important to his quality of life. Hungry dog steals food by Shutterstock.

Here are some tips on how you can keep the canine harmony around the holidays:

1. Educate children 

More than 60 percent of people who are bitten by dogs are children, and most of these bites could have been prevented by teaching children how to behave around dogs. Tell children not approach, touch, or play with a dog when he's sleeping, eating or gnawing on a bone or chew toy. As the saying goes, it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. If the dog is startled, it may bite. And most dogs don’t like to share their toys or food, and an approaching child might trigger an aggressive response in the dog.

2. Know the warning signs

Learn to read the subtle signs of trouble before your dog shows his teeth. The first sign that a dog is getting uncomfortable is often a “freeze,” or momentary pause in what he’s doing, according to the ASPCA. The freeze could be accompanied by a hard stare, where you can see the whites of the dog’s eyes. These signs usually precede the dog growling, baring its teeth or snapping at the child. You can learn more here about reading your dog’s body language.

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A woman and her kids with a puppy by Shutterstock.

3. Supervise, supervise, supervise!

The safest strategy is to supervise children when they’re around your dog to avoid any mishaps. Your dog may be friendly, but a child could do something different to provoke a different response in your dog.

4. Let your guests feed your dog

Not everyone is a dog lover, and some people are very afraid of dogs. If your dog is well trained, you can introduce your dog to your guest by telling your dog to “sit” and “stay.” Hand some treats to your guest to give to your dog. As you know, dogs usually make fast friends with people who feed them.

5. Separate your dog from your guests

If your dog isn’t very well trained, it’s a good idea to separate her from your guests. This includes dogs who jump up on people, bark or are easily excited. And then there’s my dog Sasha, an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix, who likes to lick people. Not everyone appreciates this enthusiastic welcome.

Learn more about dogs with Dogster:

How do you deal with your dog when you have guests over? Tell us in the comments!

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