So you’ve planned a social gathering perfectly from the guest list down to the hor d’oeuvres. The invitations were sent out and in a matter of hours the guests will be arriving. Everything is ready to go. But that nagging question in the back of your mind beckons an answer; How to make your dog comfortable around guests? Your dog “Marley” is usually a well behaved dog but, he has his moments of barking, jumping, and mad dashes. While a trained and socialized dog is typically good they still have their moments, just like people. We can’t all be angels! Understanding why your dog reacts is half the answer. Place yourself into Marley’s paws for a moment. People have come to “your” domain, rushing in with loud voices while shoving their hands and faces into your space. Your excitability just streamlined you into a tizzy of barking, jumping, and possibly a mad dash into your imaginary “dog cave”. Sound familiar?
Dog Manners 101
Guests should be instructed at the door to ignore Marley and avoid eye contact. Dogs need to know that these visitors are not a threat. Likewise, he shouldn’t orchestrate their attention to lavishly adorn him. And while Marley is an adorable bundle of fur, jumping should never be tolerated nor encouraged. If Marley is a jumper, leash him during introductions keeping him close and in a seated position. Don’t forget to reward him for his compliance and composure.
Running for Cover
Be sure that you have provided Marley with a safe haven to run to. A perfect example is a pet crate with a bed or blanket inside. Crates are a great training tool often providing dog’s comfort in situations like this. Remember to NEVER use a crate for disciplinary actions or allow children inside the crate.
Allow Marley to approach guests when he’s ready. Encourage your guests to slowly and calmly reward his bravery with a treat. Marley will soon begin to associate his acceptance of strange people in his domain as rewarding. However, forcing this could result in a guest getting bit. Notably, your guests should understand that commands should come from you in order to not confuse your dog and keep your guests safe.
Marley can get anxious and overstimulated when things get loud, causing him to act out. To distract him, give him something to focus his attention and anxieties on like a Kong ® , or another treat filled toy. These types of toys are useful tools that naturally soothe dogs through chewing action, thus occupying their minds. Placing this toy in their crate keeps them localized, out of harm’s way and provides them comfort.
You’ve invested time and money to make this get together fun, inclusive and rewarding. And you should be able to share those family fun times with your dog without a stressed out Marley on your hands. When we see through the eyes of our pup, assert a little discipline and provide a stress relieving retreat we can achieve a magical combination that puts everyone at ease. Even the cat.