12/22/2013 09:19 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Dog Gone Crazy? 5 Tips for Managing Fido During the Busy Holidays

'Twas the night before Xmas and all through the house, the lone creature stirring was a Chihuahua named Mouse.

She dug through the presents and watered the tree,

Then discovered the squeaky gifts and howled in glee.

If you live with pets, you don't have to look far to hear a story like that of Mouse or even one more like the following:

While pets are fun and so are holidays, the two can clash without proper planning. Some problems, such as present pilfering, are easy to prevent by controlling the environment. Edible presents can be placed up high or pets can be kept out of certain rooms temporarily. But what can you do to ensure that the family gathering is problem free while ensuring that your pet can be part of the party too?

Here are 5 tips for managing your dog successfully during the holiday gatherings.

Tip 1: First make sure that Fido actually wants to spend time visiting with your human family. Just like some of us would do better separated from our siblings and cousins, some pets would rather stay away. You can often see the signs of anxiety if you watch. The dog tolerates being touched but avoids contact when possible or looks away. Maybe his tail droops, his ears go back or out to the sides, and overall he fails to show signs of enjoyment. These canine introverts need their space. They should have a safe spot where they can choose to chill out. It can be a room or a crate if they have been trained to see their crate as their palace of solace. Kids and visitors should be prohibited from these safe spots.

Tip 2: Give Fido an activity to pass the time. A Kong toy filled with food and then frozen, a bully stick, a bone, or a different chew toys such as this Busy Buddy® toy can keep a dog occupied for hours. No doubt, depending on the conversation, some guests will wish they had their own toy too.


Tip 3: If you want Fido to have quality interaction time, consider training a few tricks so that he can have his moment to shine. This is especially handy for dogs who want to be the center of attention but lack the manners to do so. When unsupervised or off leash, they tend to tattoo your guests with pawprints and vacuum the low-lying hors d'oeuvres. If, however, they have a set of tricks that they enjoy performing, they can come out, give their performance, bask in the praise, and then go back to their bone or toy in the other room. Dogs who are not yet ready to be off leash in a house with guests may do well on leash where they can receive rewards for appropriate behavior such lying down calmly.

Here's Jonesy showing some of his favorite party tricks:



Tip 4: Police the humans to make sure they are behaving themselves instead of harassing your hound. All families seem to have at least one member or friend who has a reputation for being annoying. Well, these members can be annoying to dogs too. Maybe they tease or follow the dog incessantly. The same behavior towards a person or child might be met with some loud complaining, or even crying if it's aimed at a kid. When it's a dog and the signs of anxiety, fear or annoyance are continually ignored, it could end in a nip or a bite.

Tip 5: Know when to put Fido to bed. Just like toddlers who can't stop crying once their day has gone on too long or kids who become agitated when over-stimulated, dogs have the same types of limits. Know when your dog has had enough and put him to bed or rest him in his visitor-free zone before he has a chance to show the type of behavior that could ruin an otherwise-successful party.