With the start of Hanukkah tonight (Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish pals out there!), comes the start of the holiday family party season. Along with the awkward family party photos can come some awkward family apologies for inappropriate canine behavior.
I once heard a great story by a woman about a very awkward apology. She and her dog were invited to someone’s home for a family celebration of sorts. Her dog was playing with the resident dog and was having a blast in the yard before the guests arrived. They brought the dogs in as more guests arrived and both dogs were excited but friendly. No major issues during dinner … until the invited dog decided that, while everyone was partying in the family room, he would sneak into the kitchen and pull two pies and a bottle of wine off the counter (all three items were sitting on a kitchen towel and he just pulled the towel off the counter). Sad-face, no pie and no more wine.
So, how can you prevent such social embarrassment? Besides locking your dog in a room that is? Well here are some of the behaviors I couldn’t live without during parties.
First and foremost is safety when we have parties and with all the comings and goings of friends and family, teaching dogs to not bolt out of doors is important. So, when the kiddies go running out the backdoor to play in the snow and leave the door swinging wide open, Fido will not take the opportunity to visit the neighbors.
A dog cannot jump and sit simultaneously. Lots of naughty behavior can be prevented by being able to get a dog to sit in any situation. Dog jumps on guest carrying a plate of say shrimp with red cocktail sauce on your brand new white carpet (not sure why a dog owner would have white carpet) could mean really difficult stains on the front of the guest’s nice white and green cashmere sweater and on the white carpet. If, however, the guest was able to say “Fido sit!” and have the dog respond, the crisis would be averted.
A “Get out of the kitchen” cue
For Shayne and Rio when I say “Kitchen!” it means–get your toes on the other side of the threshold of the kitchen. Our kitchen is a galley style kitchen and is a major thruway of the house so teaching them to never be in the kitchen isn’t practical but because it’s so small they do need to get out of the kitchen when anyone is in there. This is helpful to be able to keep my dogs from being in the kitchen (where the food happens) during parties and keeping from getting into trouble while people serve snacks or dinner.
Go to bed
Perhaps the most important of all the behaviors and the one I use most often during parties is to send my dogs to their beds (this could also be sending a dog to an open crate but it’s not physically putting them in the crate, they know to go in and relax with the door open). Having the dogs on their beds prevents all unwanted naughty behaviors. Dogs cannot counter surf, cannot hump, cannot jump, cannot knock people over, cannot spill food, cannot get into goodie bags, cannot get underfoot when they are laying quietly on their beds. If the dogs get rowdy, they are cued to go to their beds, if the the party is getting too rowdy and the dogs are underfoot, they’ll get sent to their beds to relax. When it’s time for dinner or other more high-energy festivities the dogs go back to their beds with a kong until everyone is relaxing with coffee and desserts. It can be a great way to keep dogs from getting into trouble and causing those awkward apologies.
Besides the specific behaviors, having plenty of kongs, bullysticks, or puzzle toys available to keep the dogs from finding mischief can be very beneficial. Baby gates, Through a Dog’s Ear music, and a quiet room away from the party can be the ideal getaway for a more anxious or stressed out dog to get to avoid the party completely.