Dear Critter Corner: We will be hosting for Thanksgiving this year and are worried about our pup not behaving properly around our guest. Do you have any suggestions to help make the day go smoothly?
Here are some easy solutions to 3 main problems people have when they have many guests over.
Jumping up on guests as they arrive or for attention. With this behavior you will want to work on teaching your pup to offer an incompatible behavior or a more desirable one. I usually try to work on having my pup offer a sit to be said hello to. You could start with your pup on leash to have better control as the guests arrive and then give direction to them that your pup needs to be sitting to get attention. If they jump up, give a cue like ‘off’ and then ask for the ‘sit’.
Begging for food at the table. This is usually a hard one for many pets as they have smells overload and many opportunities to get a potential hand out. I like to teach the pup that they need to go to a certain spot during mealtimes keeping them out from under the table but allowing them to be in the room with you. I use a cue ‘place’ and teach my pup that they should go to that spot and stay there during mealtime. I also reinforce them for staying there throughout the meal. If they get up, I bring them back to the spot and go back to eating my meal. You can also start them off to be more successful with a long-lasting chew to have while you eat as well.
Stealing items, particularly food on low surfaces. Teaching a solid ‘leave it’ is helpful here. You will want to make sure that generalize the behavior so that they know that just because the item is now within reach doesn’t mean that it is okay to steel it. Do some set-ups in the home prior to guests coming over, including you going out of the room and having an item unattended as this scenario may happen with many people over. If your pup is relentless, be sure that you do keep things that cold harm them such as chocolate at a higher level so that they don’t have access to it.
Try to set the day up to be a fun on that all involved will enjoy. A little training ahead of time can goa long way!