1. Practice Basic Manners – Teaching your dog to respond to cues reliably is much more than just getting your dog to sit or lay down on command to impress your friends and family! Basic manners training allows you to quickly, confidently and reliably communicate what you want your dog to do in various situations.
How to Practice Basic Manners With Your Dog
Start training a few weeks before the holidays and plan to carve out at least 15 minutes for training every day and work on the following 5 cues: sit, down, stay, come and leave it.
To ask your dog for a sit, for example, mark the moment that his bum touches the ground with a “YES” and follow that with a delicious treat.
Begin your training in a quiet room with few distractions. As your dog gets better at responding to cues, gradually work on adding distractions. These could be the sounds from the TV, family members talking excitedly and moving around, inviting a friend or two over and adding anything else your dog finds distracting.
2. Exercise – We often say that “a tired dog is a happy dog”, but I’d be more apt to say that “a tired dog is a better-behaved dog”. That’s because a tired dog is not distracted as easily, and thus more capable of focusing on you and what you want him to do.
How to Exercise Your Dog
To prepare your dog for the exciting commotion-filled holiday festivities, take him out for a long walk right before guests are scheduled to arrive. Other ways to exercise your dog include playing fetch, tug-o-war, and/or taking him out to the dog park to play with other dogs.
3. Greeting Visitors – Many dogs jump up to greet us excitedly. What starts out as a cute puppy behavior, can quickly become an annoying and sometimes dangerous one.
How to Teach Your Dog to Politely Greet Visitors
Teaching your dog to sit to meet new people, for example, is a great alternative to jumping.
Recruit a friend to help and give them a few treats. Ask them to approach the dog and to cue him to sit. If he does, that’s great! Your friend can then pet your pup and give him a treat.
If your dog gets up when approached, however, your friend can move out of reach, re-approach, and then try again. Repeat this many times. Soon, your pooch will learn that a person approaching is the cue to sit and that the sitting is followed by good things (petting, attention and treats).
4. Door Manners – Doorbells and door knocks are triggers for excitement and barking for many dogs. To prepare your dog for the holiday season when many people will come to visit, begin getting your dog used to those sounds.
How to Teach Your Dog Door Manners
Start by knocking on the door (inside) and when your dog remains quiet, mark the behavior with a “YES” and reward him with a treat. Keep knocking on the door randomly and throughout the day and night so that your dog gets used to being quiet when he hears a knock. Once you notice that your dog is not reacting to the knocks, start asking a family member or a friend to knock on the door while you reward your dog for being calm and quiet.