Your Dog Etiquette Guide: Help Your Dog Mind His Manners at Holiday Parties

Structure Greetings

Not all dogs are good greeters. Extremely energetic dogs or particularly sensitive pooches may be better hosts if they are able to wait in a dog-safe area away from the festivities until your guests are settled. This approach also gives you a chance to share any special instructions about your dog with your guests and to remove any items — like presents, heavy coats or snow boots — that might be upsetting or of interest to your pooch.

You can also help your dog by guiding his interactions with your guests. He may be more comfortable meeting people one-on-one, for example, rather than in a large group, or he may prefer to observe people for a while before interacting with them. Let your guests know what his preferences are and how they should respond to him. For example, a shy dog may not want to be petted, but he may take kindly to someone who just sits near him and is calm and quiet.

Whatever your dog’s personality, having a go-to introduction routine can be helpful for him when he’s meeting people, especially if you’ve got a big group coming over. Doing tricks gives your dog a predictable way to interact with your guests and can help to increase his confidence and reduce any trepidation he may feel around strangers. Bow, shake and sit are all generally easy to train and offer a controlled way for your dog to meet and greet new people.

Take a Break From the Festivities

Minding your manners is hard work for people and pets, and your dog’s ability to be on his best behavior may be taxed by the challenge of a house full of new people and strange foods. He may be able to resist the first couple of unattended dinner plates, for instance, but after a while, his ability to control his impulses is likely to wane, especially in such a high-excitement scenario.

Set up a dog-specific space in your home where your pooch can hang out and unwind. Provide food and water, his bed and some favorite indestructible toys. Allow your dog free access to this area and make it off-limits to party guests. This gives him a place to go when he needs a break, as well as a safe space for times when you cannot supervise him.

Be sure to schedule mini breaks for your dog, too, so he can release any pent-up frustration or energy. A potty or play break in the yard, a quick walk around the block or working on a chew or food puzzle allows him to release tension and energy in a productive, acceptable way.

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