As the festive season approaches, we understand that managing a reactive dog during the holidays can present unique challenges. To help you and your furry friend navigate this joyful time, we’ve compiled five essential tips to ensure a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season for both of you.
🎄CREATE A ZEN DEN: Set up a quiet and comfortable space for your dog where they can retreat when the holiday hustle and bustle becomes overwhelming. This could be a designated room, a cozy corner or a crate with their favourite toys and bedding. Having a safe haven allows your dog to relax and recharge away from the excitement.
🎄PRACTICE YOUR SKILLS: In the weeks leading up to the festivities, create scenarios to practice calming behaviours and polite greetings with your dog. Focus on reinforcing the behaviours you want to see more of when guests are over. For example, designate a specific spot for your dog to be when people are over, and reward them for calmly staying in that area. Practice controlled greetings and encourage your dog to remain calm during interactions. Consistent reinforcement of desired behaviours will help set the stage for a more relaxed and enjoyable holiday gathering.
🎄STICK TO A ROUTINE: Dogs thrive on routine, and the holidays can disrupt their usual schedule. Try to maintain regular feeding times, walks, and play sessions as much as possible. Consistency provides a sense of security for your reactive dog, helping to minimize stress and anxiety.
🎄BURN SOME ENERGY: Dogs benefit from a good balance of physical exercise and mental stimulation. Walk or play with your dog to help tire them out before the festivities begin. Additionally, satisfy their mental curiosity by using interactive toys, puzzle feeders, bones, and chew items. These tools not only engage their minds but also channel their energy positively, reducing boredom and potential reactivity. A well-exercised and mentally stimulated dog is more likely to approach the holiday season with a calm and content demeanour.
🎄COMMUNICATE WITH GUESTS: Inform your guests, especially those unfamiliar with your dog’s behaviour, about their needs and preferences. Encourage visitors to approach slowly and avoid sudden movements. Remember, you’re your dog’s best advocate, so provide clear instructions on how to interact with your dog, such as letting your dog approach them, rather than your guests initiating contact. Never leave your dog alone with children or the elderly.
If your dog is struggling with reactive behaviour and you’re not sure what to do, make sure to check out our Calm Canines Class designed specifically for reactive dogs and taught by Calgary’s most credentialed trainer!