Responsible Dog Ownership: Part Prep by Marie Turner-Bailie
With Fall fast approaching, we’re getting to the season where we gather to enjoy friends and family. This can bring new experiences or unfamiliar situations to your dogs that they’re not expecting.
So when we get to party time, you may be asking yourself what about my dog?
Preparing your dog for a party or event, even if you think or know they will do fine, is the responsible thing to do. There is always something unexpected, like a balloon popping or something getting spilled or broken. It’s good to think ahead and have tools set in place for you, your guests and your dog so if something did happen you have something to fall back on. After all we are only human and we make mistakes and so do dogs.
So let’s talk about it! What do we need to prepare ahead of time for our dog to be safe and comfortable?
- Does your dog like large groups of people?
- Do they beg for food, counter surf?
- What about jumping up or even growling?
- Do all our guests know how to treat our dog?
- One word: Kids
Ok, so that is a lot of heavy things to pounder. How about we look at those tools to help for now?
Safe Zone: A space in the home that will be quieter and have less people access to it. This space should be a place where your dog feels safe and relaxed. Bed rooms are always a go to place for me, but you might have a pen set up in another room or another space. This could be a place where your dog can see the festivities or they may like their own private room away from the noise.
Enrichment: Enrichment should be mentally challenging, but doable. We want to put your dog at ease. Lick mats are easy to load with your dog's favorite treat like yogurt, cottage cheese, plain canned pumpkin or even pate dog food. Too easy? Freeze it!
Maybe your dog does better with a treat dispensing ball, a Kong or a snuffle mat. Some dogs go through things faster than others so you may have to adjust or rethink what you use or how you use it. Do you need more than one enrichment activity? Make extra! Make them ahead of time and make sure your fillers are stocked.
Target Training: Target training is to teach your dog to go to a target on cue. This could be a bed, a space or your hand. There are a lot of options for targets out there. Why is this useful? It lets you communicate to your dog that you want them to move from that location. Great tool if a child needs to eat at the coffee table.
This could also be useful when you have guests coming in the front door and want to help avoid overly excited greetings. If you’re concerned about greetings:
Greetings: Practice greetings! If your dog does well greeting people at the door that's awesome, but hey it's a party and people come in in groups, let themselves in and love to get the dog excited. Practice it with family or close friends! Do they ring the doorbell? How long does the door stay open for? Could the dog bolt if the door is left open? If you are not sure and don’t have time to practice then the dog should be kept in a Safe Zone or on leash. You love your dog so let’s just be on the safe side.
Know your dog: What does your dog like to do? Chase? Do they seek pets from people? Is your dog even good with people? Fast moving objects? What will they do when they hear loud noises? What about sudden pats on the back or on the backs of people? Food left out? I can’t tell you all the stories of dogs stealing a whole Thanksgiving Day turkey. Take some time and study your dog, watch their body language and learn when they feel comfortable and when they are not. We have some good webinars for this: How to Speak Dog!
Know your guests: Do they know your dog? Prepare yourself to explain how you want your dog treated. Humans can be fun, but not all human’s know dogs and most of them might not know your dog’s boundaries. Sometimes you have to advocate for your dog and tell people no.
There are a lot of questions here for you to think about and you are the expert on your dog. Take the questions above and create a plan based off the dog in front of you, not the dog you want to be in front of you.
Plan A always sounds great! Let the dog enjoy the party! However, if Plan A isn’t the right plan for your dog, what does Plan B look like, maybe even set up a Plan C or D. Is your family on the same page? It’s always a good idea to have back up so everyone is safe and having fun.
Well that’s a good start! What other things can you think of to help prepare your dog for a party?
Need some extra help email us at Bark@daackpack.com and check out our webinars to get started.