Wait at the Door
Teaching your dog to wait at the door isn’t just good manners, it’s also a safety precaution, especially during the holidays. With people coming and going, your pooch may take the opportunity to dash outside and could get lost or injured. To help prevent this, begin practicing this command before guests arrive — and if you’re spending the holidays away from home, be sure to review at your destination as well.
Your dog may be excited to see your guests, but they may not be as enthused when their best holiday outfits get ruined by muddy paws. The risk, however, goes beyond having to pay for a dry cleaning bill. If your dog greets guests by jumping on them, it can be dangerous, especially for the very young and the elderly. To prevent problems, teach your dog to greet guests only when he is calm and has all four paws on the floor. Alternatively, have your dog greet people by performing a trick that limits his ability to jump, such as sitting or hand targeting.
A paw shake is a fun way for guests to interact with your dog, but it is more than just a cute trick. It creates a controlled and specific way for your pooch to say hi and interact with visitors. Training your dog to shake (and informing guests this is how he likes to be greeted) also provides an opportunity for your dog to control how people approach him. One of my Pugs, Willy, prefers to shake in greeting, like humans do, before allowing people to pet him. A shake works both for dogs who are excited about greeting people and those who are a little uncertain.
Come When Called
Teaching your dog to come when called is a vital command for your pet to know year round, but it is especially helpful during the holidays. If your pet gets outside, his safety may depend on him coming immediately to you when you call, but this command can also be used to interrupt behavior that’s not appropriate or that may be unsettling to guests, such as getting too close to a child or being a little too interested in the food on the buffet table.
Your dog’s begging face may be adorable, but that doesn’t mean this is acceptable behavior. Mooching food from the table is not just rude, it can also be dangerous: Guests may accidentallyfeed your dog something toxic or enable him to overindulge to the point where he becomesphysically ill. Put a stop to begging by teaching an alternative behavior, like staying on a mat, that he can do during dinner