Holidays, Company and Dogs - Part 3
Old habits die hard. Once you’ve had a dog a number of years, he (and you) will have established some habits. Save yourself from the frustration that comes with retraining and manage his habits instead! In this third blog of a three-part series on surviving the holidays with your dog, we will explore a few strategies for dealing with dogs with well-established habits.
Easiest Management Option: Separation
Don’t feel badly about separating your dog from the company. Separation will make your evening much less stressful. Bottom line, separation is all about protecting your dog. If your dog isn’t uncomfortable in a situation, he will be happier being separated.
Separation can be achieved in a variety of ways: a crate, an X-pen, an outdoor kennel, a bedroom or a basement. Whatever the space is, make sure:
1. Your dog is relatively comfortable (outside won't work in the Canadian winters with a short-coated breed)
2. No one can enter unless you allow it (sometimes, a bedroom may be too easy for someone to walk into without your knowledge)
3. The space is sound proof (protect your dog and your guests from excessive noise)
4. You give him a bone (separation anxiety can be easily rectified if your dog has something else to focus on)
If such a space is not possible, consider keeping the dog with a neighbour or at a kennel.
To Separate or Not To Separate … That is the Question
Protecting your dog is the main goal. Be realistic with your expectations. No one knows your dog better than you. If your dog appears uncomfortable in a situation, get him out of it! Don’t expect your dog to “deal with it” because chances are, he will deal with it in a way that is not satisfactory to you.
Here are a couple of common occasions when you may wish to consider separating your dog:
- when people arrive
- if your dog is uncomfortable with people (it will depend on how many people are coming, sometimes bringing him out later in the evening might work best)
- if your dog steals food (he only comes out after the food is put away)
- if your dog is not great with kids (he can come out when you can pay attention, keep him close on a leash, reward lying quietly with you)