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Quick Tips: Dog Behavior During the Holidays

The holiday season can bring a lot of chaos and routine changes to your home, and your dog might think this is the perfect opportunity to sneak in some behaviors that are otherwise not allowed, like getting on the furniture, stealing a treat here and there, or jumping on guests.

With a few simple steps, you can be sure your dog maintains good behavior during the holidays.

Nervous Behaviors

Some dogs get upset when their routines are disrupted, and may engage in undesirable behaviors out of nervousness or anxiety. Behaviors like barking and excessive chewing can range from irritating to even dangerous if your dog gets hold of something unsafe to chew on. If you haven’t yet tried to train your dog not to bark, this could be a good time to introduce this training. Read this dog-barking article for tips to help your dog understand when it’s okay to bark and when it isn’t.

If your dog is chewing excessively, audibly correct and then redirect with safe chew toys or food puzzles. And remember that dogs often chew out of boredom, so if you can find time during the holidays, ensure your dog gets enough exercise to avoid a buildup of excess energy that has to go somewhere.

Naughty Behaviors

Holidays usually bring guests, and dogs are notorious for becoming very excited when people other than their pet parents are in their house. If your pet is inclined to bark at or jump on people who are unfamiliar or who come over infrequently, a few simple reminders can help curb the enthusiasm.

Refresh your dog’s memory of sitting on command and keeping all four paws on the floor when someone comes in the door. It can help to have a friend or family member come over to practice this training so your dog remembers to stay calm no matter who comes in the house. If your dog jumps, immediately turn your back and ignore the behavior until it stops; when your dog has become calm, reward with a treat and a pat. After a few go-rounds of this, your dog should begin to remember that jumping is not acceptable. And if all else fails, you can contain your dog in another room until the guests leave.

Accidental Behaviors

Holiday houseplants, trees, decorations, treats … all can pose risks to your pets, whether naughtiness is involved or not. Tails can knock over trees, noses can find treats and houseplants can appear edible.

Removing the temptations from your dog’s line of sight will help avoid problems. You can put up a collapsible pet playpen around your tree, which will keep your dog from being tempted to ingest such shiny temptations as ornaments, tinsel and candy canes. If you have a real tree instead of an artificial one, it will also keep your dog out of the water in the base of the tree stand. Houseplants and treats should be kept up out of a dog’s reach, as these can be dangerous and even poisonous to dogs.

Keeping your pet safe and on best behavior during the holidays doesn’t require much extra work, and the rewards will suit both of you.

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