When outdoor temperatures start dropping, you know the holiday season is quickly approaching. Bringing furry family members along for holiday family visits has increased dramatically, so it’s time to make sure your dog learns important polite behaviors before heading out to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.
Start teaching your dog polite behaviors months in advance, so your dog can show off her polite manners to family members when they see her.
1. Crate Training
All traveling dogs should learn how to quietly settle in their crate in different situations. When traveling by car, dogs should travel in crates for safety. Also, dogs should learn how to quietly relax in their crate at Grandma’s house—even with a house filled with festive family members.
Start early and teach your dog that yummy food stuffed toys appear while she’s crated. While at Grandma’s house, make food stuffed toys extra yummy with bits of lean turkey and cooked pumpkin stuffing. Your dog will happily keep herself occupied whether you’re in the other room or visiting other family members.
2. No Jumping
When greeting family members or fellow travelers, it’s important your dog greets them politely. This usually means no jumping. If your dog gets excited and jumps on anyone she meets, teach her that keeping all four feet on the floor is rewarding.
Ignore your dog when she jumps up, but immediately say “yes” and give her a treat when all four feet land on the ground. Quickly, your dog will learn that keeping all four feet on the floor makes luscious treats appear.
3. Come When Called
This behavior is a must for all dogs because you never know when you’ll need to call your dog back to you. Dogs respond to high-pitched, rapidly repeating sounds, such as “pup, pup, pup” or a smooching sound. When they hear those sounds, they will quickly look back at you.
Practice this behavior in the backyard. The moment your dog looks at you, squat down and pat your legs. When she approaches you, give her a scrumptious treat and celebrate with a happy dance.
4. Leave It
Glazed Christmas hams are very enticing to dogs, so it’s important to teach your dog the “leave it” cue. To teach this behavior, hold a yummy treat in your closed hand. Place your closed hand under your dog’s nose and say “yes” the moment she ignores your hand. After saying “yes,” give her the treat in your open hand. Continue until she will readily ignore treats in your hand, and then add the verbal cue.
5. Potty On Leash
No one enjoys walking dogs for miles because their dogs refuse to poop on leash. In your backyard, practice walking your dog on a 4- to 6-foot leash (skip the retractable leash) at first. Reward your dog every time she urinates and poops while on leash. Now, practice walking through your neighborhood, and reward your dog for pottying on leash. Soon, your dog will learn to potty on leash anywhere.
Fanna Easter is a freelance writer and professional dog trainer; she has earned several national behavior certifications (CPDT-KA, KPA CTP).