Four Legs and a Crowd: Keeping your Dog Safe When Company Calls

November 14, 2009

This time of year, company comes calling more often than usual, and resident dogs often need help dealing with holiday guests. Follow these tips to keep your dog safe:

  • Brief your guests. Remind visitors of any rules you have regarding human-dog interactions, such as no jumping and no dogs on the beds. If your guests follow the rules, you'll save your dog a lot of confusion.

  • Don't feed from the table. People food is not always safe for dogs, and inattentive guests may not know they're reinforcing bad behavior. This gives your dog the impression that yummy-smelling food on the table is simply there to be cadged by barking, jumping up and helping herself to a plate, says Penelope Brown, a dog trainer in Washington, D.C. Discourage such behavior by putting your four-legged friend's food in her own dish.

  • Remove food from the counter. "As we teach our dogs not to counter surf by making alternative activities more rewarding, it's important not to tempt her to make a mistake," Brown says.

  • Keep her away from the door. Frequent comings and goings give your dog too much opportunity to escape. Keep her in another room, or crate her during arrivals and departures.

  • Don't force interactions. Some dogs aren't comfortable around people they don't know. If that's the case with your dog, don't expect her to be a genial canine host. Liz Palika, a trainer in Oceanside, CA, suggests making a safe, quiet place to which your dog can retreat when the crush of people or bustle of the holidays gets to be too much.

* The preceeding is courtesy of Susan McCullough for DogFancy magazine.

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