Step 1: Exercise
It's hard for your dog to be calm and content during the festivities if they haven't had a chance to expel their energy. Make the time to take your dogs out for a long structured walk before the chaos begins so your dogs can be calm when your guests arrive. Yes, this means small dogs too, and dogs who have "big backyards".
A structured walk is a walk done with you leading your dog, and not the other way around. This type of walk will meet their inherent need to migrate, which will stimilate their minds, and drain their energy.
Rules for A Structured Walk:
Step 2: Boundaries
Boundaries are something that should be practiced every day - consistently. When you have guests over, the boundaries need to remain the same. Decide with your family what is off limits, and stick to it, every time. For example, the kitchen or dining room can be off-limits. This will take you and your family members consistently using your body language as well as touch (much better than your voice) to move your dog back to where they should be (on their beds in the room where you want them to stay). The high energy of having company over can mean having to take your dog back more than once, that's ok! Stay calm, repeat as needed.
Step 3: Keeping your Guests in-check.
This one can be tricky - but, remember, your house - your rules. There is no need to create excitement in your dog, and we must ask our guests not to get them all riled up.
"OOOOOOH HI MAX! YOU LOVE YOUR AUNT MARGARET, OH YES YOU DO, OH YES YOU DO!"
What does your dog do after this? They get excited, perhaps jump up onto guests, bark, maybe even pee a little. Not all guests are aunt Margaret, and not all guests want to be jumped on or knocked over, particularly the little guests. If one guest reinforces this excitement, Max will think it's ok to do this to all guests.
Why do we feel the need to do this as humans? Well, we can be a little bit selfish sometimes. An excited dog is not a happy dog - a calm dog is a happy dog - and a calm dog creates a calm environment for everyone around them. Kindly ask your guests to ignore your dog, no talking to them or touching them.
Gasp! ignore adorable little MAX, what if he doesn't like me anymore?
FALSE, he will start to respect you and your space, and isn't Max's calm happiness more important than your ego?
If aunt Margaret creates this excitement everytime she comes over, chances are your dog will run over to her anyways - as she has become a source of excitement for Max. Ask her to please remain stoic, quietly use your body language (no words) to send Max back to his bed, and repeat as needed.
"BUT, when CAN I pet Max and make sure he still loves me?"
When all the guests have arrived, and Max has is calmly resting on his bed from that nice long walk, and calm atmosphere youv'e created, you can allow good ol aunt Margaret to go over and give him some pets. Best to not use any words, play it cool, and calmly go back to the festivities.
Michael Bylo - Canines Moving Forward
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Sara Nielsen (Bylo)