As the season for guests, feasts and festivities approaches, it is important that your pets are prepared with proper party manners.
Certainly we do not want our dogs and cats locked away in the laundry room or relegated to the back yard during the holiday season for fear of misbehavior.
Establishing rules and adhering to them is vital. Some basic behavior training ahead of time is essential. Now is the best time to begin. All dogs should know the commands of sit, down and stay. These three words, when understood and enforced, can make a delightful difference.
The dog wants to be close by watching his favorite people having fun together with friends. After all, the dog is part of the family.
Although most dogs know these three commands, it is the enforcement that is questioned. When the family is consistent in insisting that the commands be followed, the dog will obey. But too often, we give a command like “sit” and the dog may sit for a minute and then get up and wander off. Because enforcement is so vital, be sure that the command is doable. Do not ask him to sit and then forget about him. Remember to reinforce the command with a “Good Dog, Good Stay” and a quick ear rub.
When guests are arriving, have the dig sit quietly nearby where he can see them. He should not bark or jump on them. That may sound like a lot to ask, but once the dog understands the commands and you are consistent, it will work.
Remember that there are people who are not very fond of dogs or who are afraid of them, particularly large dogs.
Once your guests are in the house, allow the dog to extend a greeting to them. Let him walk around and get pats from your pet-friendly guests. Then tell him to lie down out of the way. He may pick a place or you may choose it but insist that he stay there.
It is a good idea to practice this behavior well before the guests arrive.
In fact, the routine should be followed every day. When the family sits down to dinner, have the dog lie down nearby but not close enough to beg. Tell him to stay and do not allow him to move.
Dogs, cats too, should not even consider the idea of helping themselves to something on the table or begging from you or your guests. To prepare for this, never, never, ever feed them from the table.
If someone comes to the door, allow the dog one bark and then tell him to sit and be quiet while you answer the door. Let him check our the person at the door. After all, that is his job, protecting his family. If you insist on this kind of behavior every day, you will not have problems during the holidays.
Dogs who are part of the family, with a proper balance of discipline, love and attention, quickly learn the rules of proper behavior for holiday time or anytime.