Have you been meaning to get your dog ready for the excitement of your upcoming holiday bash? Or for having guests stay over? That’s great! But often, other things are prioritized until getting started and committing the time necessary for training is no longer feasible. The big day is looming, and you realize what you wanted to do just isn’t going to happen. Now what?
Don’t despair! You don’t have to cancel the festivities to make it work. There are several other options than training a new skill to keep your dog safe and comfortable this holiday season.
Management to the Rescue
Most of us already use some form of management over the holidays to keep our dogs safe and ‘out of trouble.’ We don’t leave chocolates lying around or the holiday feast unattended on the counter with a known surfer.
Management can come to the rescue in all sorts of ways when our dogs do not have the skills or ability to handle the environment or circumstances they are presented with. Management is a proactive strategy, setting your dog up for success before a problem occurs.
The Doggy Den
Many think managing their dog means tucking them into a crate or small pen. Although this may be an appropriate choice for short periods, there are many other options.
My favourite day-to-day management setup is a doggy den. This setup is more spacious, allowing the dog to move about and have access to a variety of toys and enrichment activities. Dogs usually take to a den more readily because it is more comfortable for them.
You can create a doggy den in a bathroom, laundry room or sectioned-off area. Just be sure that:
- you always provide positive and enriching experiences for your dog when they are in it
- it is part of the area where you spend your time. Your dog will not enjoy the den if it isolates them.
- you condition your dog to help them feel comfortable and enjoy being there before you need to use it
A doggy den should include:
- a comfortable resting spot
- a variety of toys
- a safe chew
- for an extra shot of enrichment, you can provide a food puzzle or other mentally stimulating item, such as an adventure box or a scenting activity in the den.*
*Remember certain food puzzles and enrichment activities require supervision.
You can utilize the doggy den over the holidays when you are busy decorating, baking, or entertaining (if your dog is comfortable being around guests).
Secure The Environment
Another way to use management effectively is to manage the environment rather than the dog. Closing off certain areas or a particular spot in a room may be all that is necessary for some situations. Closing the sliding door to the dining room or putting up a baby gate may be the perfect solution for gift wrapping. It will save time and make wrapping easier by allowing you to focus on the task rather than dealing with your dog getting into everything. A designated area will also let you leave things out while keeping both the wrappings and your dog safe.
Do you have an ornament thief? Rather than chasing your dog away from the tree, you can manage access simply by putting up a barrier around it. Another management option for some dogs is to skip decorating the lower portion of the tree. Both of these proactive choices reduce frustration, save time and keep your dog safe.
When It’s Just Too Much
But what about that big party? No amount of management in the house may be adequate for your dog. A group of people in the home might be too exciting or too stressful. Management can come to the rescue for this, too! Planning to have your dog out of the house altogether for this situation can be the best solution for some dogs. Arranging for a sleepover with a familiar friend or having someone take them out for the duration of the party may be the way to go.
Of course, there are other things to consider when planning for the holidays with your dog. But getting a handle on management to keep your dog safe and comfortable is a significant step. It will allow you to focus, save time and make the season less stressful!