Are you thankful for your dog?
Your immediate response might be, “Of course I am! What a ridiculous question.”
If that is the case, then my second question to you, next Monday post-thanksgiving holiday, would be, “Are you STILL thankful for your dog?”
Did your dog behave well around friends and family this holiday? Did he/she respect your guests’ personal bubbles, resist the urge to jump on grandma, and leave the feast on the kitchen counter alone?
If you are already fearful your dog may NOT be a good Thanksgiving guest this week, here are a few things to consider:
Dogs are not greater than people
Hear me – I love my dog immensely, but he is not as important as a person. If I were afraid that Tucker would jump on and injure a guest (especially an older, more frail guest like a grandparent) he would not be allowed to participate in Thanksgiving events (or any other family gathering). Here’s the thing – treating your dog like a dog for a few hours IS NOT CRUEL. This is another great example of why I advocate crate training from an early age – if your dog cannot be trusted, a crate is the safest place for him/her to be. I’m not suggesting you leave your furry friend cooped up all day or all weekend. If you need to employ a crate, make sure to schedule times for bathroom breaks and exercise. Remember, a few hours of boredom for your dog is a low price to pay to avoid a hip replacement for grandma.
Leashes are a great invention
If your dog has not been crate trained, or you just can’t bear the thought of locking Fido up for a few hours, a leash could be a great second option. If you don’t trust him/her not to bug guests, eat leftovers off the counter, or sneak off and destroy your shoes, tethering him/her to yourself with a leash can be a great way to allow your dog some very supervised freedom. As your friends/family begin to trickle into your living room to watch football or reminisce the day away, grab a chew toy and leash and require your dog to lay next to you on the floor. If you haven’t done any training, getting your dog to lay calmly at your feet may be a task, but it isn’t impossible, especially if you’ve made time to include some doggy exercise in your day.
There’s still time
Whether you already know that Thanksgiving is likely to be a disaster or you’re reading this post-Thanksgiving and you KNOW it was a disaster, don’t lose heart – there is still time before Christmas! If you’re unsatisfied with your dog’s holiday behavior, now is a great time to start looking for a trainer in your area who can help you work through problem behaviors. While few long-standing bad behaviors can be fixed overnight, there is definitely still time to make good progress before Santa comes to town. Don’t be satisfied with poor dog behavior – make the time to discover your dog’s full potential!