Christmas Bites: The Quickest Fix

The Quickest Fix: Sensible Management

With little time between now and the big day, and a busy time in general, elaborate training just isn’t going to be done or successful. When you can’t train, manage. Management means to prevent the dog practicing behaviour we don’t like, because the more they do it, the better at it they become!

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Don’t worry too much about teaching new behaviours, and instead, make it easy on you and your pet, and plan to manage.

Does my pet really need to participate in this?

Parties and celebrations can be a bit much for pets and they will often benefit from a break.
This may be just as beneficial for you too, as the festivities might stress you too causing you to feel frustrated with your pet’s behaviour.

Set up a safe space!

Set up a safe space for your pet to retreat to, that’s out of the way, and easy for them to access. It might be their bed, a mat, their crate, or a corner of a room.

Think about where will be best given the plans you have for the celebrations; where your pet can be away from the action safely.

Start practicing now!

  •  set up your pet’s safe space now
  • make sure everyone is aware of the rules – nobody approaches or  interacts with your pet while they are there
  • every day, give them at least one tantalising stuffable or similar there

Make confinement a winner!

Having a safe space is great, but you might need to confine your dog to provide relief for all and to safely manage their behaviour.
Having your dog behind a closed door, baby gate or in a crate can help ease your mind from worrying about your dog getting into mischief.

Start practicing today!

  • pick your safe confinement area
  • every day, and I do mean every day, even if only for a few minutes, confine your dog with absolutely the best, most tempting, tantalising stuffable, chew or treat
  • release your dog before they become distressed and go back to normal

Consider letting your dog retreat or putting them away regularly during the festivities to give them a break, before they become over-excited or stressed.
It’s also a good idea to confine your dog just before gusts arrive so you can get everyone in calmly and safely, and then bring your dog out to greet.

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Keep away!

Presents, toys, decorations, Christmas trees, forbidden foods and tasty, tantalising treats everywhere makes it tough for dogs to resist.

Think prevention first!

  • Confine your dog from areas where decorations are within reach.
    If you have a puppy or a particularly interested dog, decorating elaborately in just one room makes it easier to keep an eye on all the bits and pieces.
  • Keep foods up and out of reach, so that your dog doesn’t get to practice even considering trying to counter-surf.
  • Confine your dog during particularly active times, when children are on the floor, when toys are ramping up the excitement, when food is flowing.

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Start practicing today!

  • think of the situations in which your dog gets into mischief…
  • give your dog an alternative activity before these situations start
  • for example, before starting to cook or prepare food, or before sitting down to eat, give your dog a puzzle, a stuffable, a chew or something tempting to keep him busy in his safe zone
  • for practice, you can time confinement and safe zone work with these situations so that you are getting more bang for your buck!

Some excellent ideas from around the web (please let me know if you own one of these pictures or know who does for credit) and in this clip here:

Baby-gates and leashes solve problems

Management is simple with just three tools: stuffables or similar, your dog’s lead, and a baby gate here and there.

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Baby-gates: 

  • prevent access to the tree and decorations
  • prevent access to the kitchen and food prep areas
  • prevent access to rooms where foods and toys are within reach
  • stops dogs getting up stairs, where they might knock someone over
  • keeps dogs safe in a confinement area
  • prevents dogs getting to the hallway or doors to stop escapes or over-the-top greetings

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Leashes: 

  • tether your dog in their safe zone so that they are safely confined but not shut away from the action
  • bring your dog to greet guests on leash to prevent jumping up
  • sit with your dog’s leash under your foot so you can eat or relax in peace
  • allow your dog to drag their leash so that you can easily and safely restrain them should things get tense, when the door is opening, and when things get exciting

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Start practicing today!

  • erect baby gates now so that your dog has time to get used to them before they are really needed
  • practice confining your dog, behind a baby gate, with a yummy stuffable to work on while you cook, prep, eat and relax
  • Park your Pup every day, while you relax or eat a meal:

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Kids & K9s

With excitement ramping up, the mix of children and dogs will take extra care. Neither dogs nor children are doing anything wrong – seasonal excitement might just cause everyone to lose a little control, be a little less tolerant and decrease attentiveness.

  • more active and direct supervision is needed
  • more separation will be required
  • dogs don’t need to be involved when things get exciting so that they don’t associate such excitement with children and also to prevent jumping up, mouthing, knocking over or the development of discomfort in association with children
  • give children dog-care activities to keep them busy, rather than allowing them to hug, lean on, or lift pets
  • don’t allow children to take stuff from dogs and make sure to provide guidance about leaving the dog alone while he is in his safe zone or when he has possessions

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Take care taking seasonal photos. Have an adult sitting between dogs and children and give children something to hold so they are not tempted to grab at or hug dogs, things that most dogs will find uncomfortable.

We often exert a lot of social pressure on dogs when taking photos – encouraging, luring and telling them to “stay!” and this can really cause dogs discomfort. Ease up, have an adult hold a chew or toy for the dog to work on during the photo shoot so that they stay put, without too much pressure.

Here’s an excellent webinar from Family Paws founder, Jennifer Shryock and it’s free! Check it out:

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Start practicing and establishing management practices that you might come to rely on during the celebrations.

Everything is in flux around your pet in the run-up to the holidays so putting this in place now, will help to set up some stability for them.

This practice helps you develop confidence in these routines too, making it easier for you to implement them sensibly when everything is exciting and feels a little out of control.