Reality check : If you have a young dog at home, then probably at some point you simply can’t do what you need to do to help her maintain her house manners in the face of all the activity, company, and food that are part of the holidays. And the kids – either Tulip is not used to children or not to so MANY children all OVER the place! That alone can be anything from super stimulating to terrifying for her. Of course it is Tulip’s home too, so what do you do?
First, plan ahead for plenty of breaks. Tulip does not need to be out there mingling throughout an event, even if she thinks she does! Make sure you have a safe haven already set up in a distant room – that also keeps the room safe from her. This haven provides respite from all the noise and activity and allows the dog to decompress a bit, even if she is a bit whiny about being there. Hopefully she has been in that room, being separated or even crated there, in the past and has been comfortable with it. Regardless, stock her space with a stuffed kong and other goodies that are safe to enjoy unsupervised. Make sure your guests – and their children – understand that Tulip’s haven is off limits to visitors.
Second, have a plan for when she is among people. Be aware of where food will be placed so it isn’t too tempting for a dog to investigate and whether anything you are offering is potentially dangerous to the dog if she gets into it. Ask older children to take running and roughhousing outside or to the basement. If young children will be present, assign one adult to supervise EACH baby and toddler and caution them about preventing the child from giving hugs, kisses, or in any way restricting the dog (older children should follow that too). Even the best dog will likely feel stressed in crowds; let Tulip be in control of whom she interacts with, and how.
Which leads to my third tip: ensure Tulip always has an escape route. Some dogs will not move away even when they are overstimulated and will need you to intervene. Others will hover because they are anxious and want to be near you, their source of comfort. But many dogs figure out that, when Mom and Dad are simply not noticing, they can quietly slip away to an empty room. That is a terrific coping strategy and one to be rewarded generously. When Tulip understands that she has some control over her comings and goings and who she interacts with, she will feel more relaxed and confident about mingling right along with you.
See Doggone Safe’s Holiday tips at http://doggonesafe.com/holiday_tips for videos, tips, and handouts.