Preparing our canine friends for Christmas involves far more than simply coping with reindeer landing on rooftops, or dealing with the arrival of a red garbed gentleman entering through the chimney. During the festive season households become filled with partying guests. Food is displayed on tables, shiny ornaments adorn trees, and colorfully wrapped presents and decorations attract the attention of our canine pals. Busy in conversations and visiting, we may not notice our dogs moving about the house quietly eating goodies, playing with ornaments, or dragging off presents.
To help our canine friends deal with all the excitement of the festive season, we need to remind them how to behave in this new atmosphere. We need to teach them to avoid the dangers of tugging on electrical cords, or ingesting tree decorations. We must also remind them to treat our guests with courtesy and to leave tasty treats on the tables and counters where they belong.
The arrival of guests is an exciting time for the family dog and this is when dogs often make mistakes. In their enthusiasm to greet arriving guests, many dogs jump up and unintentionally rip clothing or cause parcels to drop. Exuberant greetings can even knock over small children or older visitors. The best way to manage this behaviour is to put your dog in a safe and secure place when guests arrive. Once the guests are in the house and are mingling, bring the dog out to join in the festivities.
Teach your dog to leave food trays alone. Start this training a few weeks before Christmas. Get everyone in the family to agree not to give the dog treats from the table or from their plate. Place some food trays on the counter or coffee table. As soon as your dog walks over to sniff the plate, use a firm voice to tell them, "No"! For most dogs the tone of your voice will be sufficient to stop this behaviour.
Some dogs, however, are more persistent and will require stronger action. For these dogs you will need to attach a string to their collar. When your dog begins to sniff food or to beg, pick up the string and give a "few pops or jerks". Use a strong voice to command, "No"! When your dog backs away from the food tray, praise them for responding to your command.
The "string strategy" can also be used to teach your dog to leave ornaments, presents, or other decorations alone. If everyone in the family is consistent in their expectations and training, your dog can enjoy a safe and a Merry Christmas!Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists