10 Party Tips for Dog Owners

With the holiday season upon us, I’ve had many questions about what to do with “rowdy” dogs during a party. Here are my top ten pieces of advice:

1. Feed the dog prior to the party starting and then make sure you take them out to potty after about 15 minutes. If they don’t produce for you, then make sure you make a note for yourself to try again in another 5 minutes. Nothing worse than a potty accident right at the start of the party.

2. WALK them as long as you can as close to the start of the party as possible. Make this a controlled walk, dog at your side, you determine the pace and the direction. Try for a 45 minute walk but no less than 30 minutes. More is better.

3. Advise guests to completely ignore the dog when they arrive and not to pet, look at or talk to the dog until you give the go ahead. Prepare for this to be the hardest thing to accomplish! Only let guests say hello to the dog once the dog is settled nicely. Expect this to take awhile – likely a good 45 minutes into the party.

4. Keep the dog on leash during the party. There is no reason to let a young or out of control dog have free reign of the house during the party. Keeping them on leash and nearby is far better than isolating them to their crate or a back room. This will only cause barking or possible distructive behavior. Dogs are social like us, they deserve to be wtih the group.

5. Work the obedience skills – especially down/stay. Have treats ready and practice these two commands while you take a break and sit down. If you can’t take a break from the action then …

6. …Play “pass the puppy” (or dog). Ask a guest with dog experience to mind the dog for you. If they are skilled enough, they can work the dog in a down/stay or simply keep the dog close by, on leash.

7. Advise guests not to feed the dog any people food. There are many holiday favorites that are toxic to dogs, and some guests may not know that. For a list of toxic foods/holiday items check out the ASPCA website.

8. Arrange for a scheduled time for a brief outside walk during the party. This can be a time for you to catch your breath and it gives the dog time to potty again. Also, if done in a controlled fashion, it will reassert your leadership role with your dog. This one can be shorter, say 15 minutes.

9. Expect things to be less smoothly than expected and don’t be hard on yourself or your dog. Allow for imperfection and for mistakes. Take them in stride and don’t get hopeless and give up. Just get back in control of the situation.

10. Keep your emotions even and do your best to enjoy yourself!

December 18, 2009 • Tags: , , , , , • Posted in: advice, behavior, dog ownership, training

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