Whether you have a senior dog or a new puppy, their lives get temporarily shaken up when you have house guests over during the holiday season. Having people over for the holidays and cooking for everyone is stressful enough—and you don’t want to also have to apologize for your dog’s behavior.
Set Your Dog Up for Success
The best way to prevent your dog from getting into trouble during your holiday season is to give them the support to make good decisions. If you know your dog likes to steal things or "counter surf", for example, make sure there aren’t tempting food items left within reach, and that your dog isn’t left alone in the kitchen.
A good rule for life with dogs is “confine or supervise,” meaning if you can’t fully supervise your pet to prevent unwanted behavior, they should be safely confined to a safe area of the home or a crate. Any busy time including the holidays — is a good rule to keep in mind no matter your dog’s age. If you know your dog gets overly excited about visitors and you want to prevent behaviors like jumping up or just aren’t sure how your dog will react, it can be helpful to use items like a leash during the gatherings.
Use treats of high interest to reward your dog for appropriate calm behavior like down or sitting. It can help to make someone in the family responsible for working with the dog—especially if it’s a young puppy, a newly adopted dog, or if you are trying to retrain new manners around engaging with visitors. Always be sure to praise and reward your dog for the behavior you want.