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Preparing Rover to be a Well-Behaved Holiday Visitor

This weekend we bid a fond ado to October and rush head-long into the holiday season! That’s right – though it doesn’t seem possible – Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we know many of you will be packing up the pets and traveling to celebrations far and wide. To help your pet be the perfect house guest, now is the time to brush up on your basic obedience commands. And, once you arrive, these tips from our friend Carrie Boyko will ensure your pet makes a fantastic impression (and gets invited back next year).

Three Dog WalkWill you and Fido be visiting family this year for the holidays? Perhaps now is the time to think about making this visit a pleasant one for your host. Traveling with the pup can be cumbersome enough for you, but be keenly aware that a host who does not own dogs may not realize what they’ve gotten themselves into. It’s your job to create a good impression of dog owners.

Here are 12 tips to help you get ready for the holiday visits on your calendar:

1. Save time with the relatives by prepackaging your food in labled zip-bags. Be sure to store these in a secure place, well out of Fido’s reach.

2. Stock up on poop bags and make sure there are some attached to each leash. Flushable bags are best, and can be found online at Flushpuppies.

3. If your Fido is young, large, or generally boisterous, he may need to remain on a leash under your watchful eye to assure that children, the elderly, and the all-important hostess’s feast are all protected from Fido’s advances.

Jacque asleep in travel crate4. If you’re spending more than a couple of hours with family or friends, consider bringing a pop-up crate and possibly a baby gate, especially if other pets or young children are present in the home. Your hosts will likely appreciate the extra comfort and safety you have considered for their family and other guests.

5. Still house training a puppy? Think again about bringing your youngster. This is only a welcome visitor if your host is extremely easy-going and has a secure area that is not carpeted. If a pet sitter, house-sitter, or doggie daycare/boarding situation are an option for you, this could certainly increase your enjoyment of the visit, not to mention that of the others that will join you.

6. On the flip side, if you decide to bring your little potty-training experiment along, be sure to come prepared with all the necessary clean-up tools. This shouldn’t become your hostess’s problem. Here’s the shortlist: bucket, club soda or natural soap cleaner, a roll of paper towels, rags or old towels, and a plastic trash bag. When visiting others, be aware that they may find your choice of chemical cleaners offensive or worse yet, dangerous. Shoot for all-natural for this visit.

7. When feeding your dog in your host’s house, be ever mindful that your Fido is not in his own domain. His behavior may change accordingly, and safety dictates a secure area while feeding.

Clean Tanner8. Bathe your dog just before you leave. Although he may always smell fine to you, often people who do not own dogs will find that our Fidos bring their own special aroma that is not necessarily pleasant.

9. Well before departure, put away a few of Fido’s favorite toys that he enjoys interacting with for long periods. When you offer these (one at a time) to him during dinner with your host family, he’ll think he has found a long lost friend and the honeymoon will last a bit longer.

10. Another way to occupy your Rover, when group activities necessitate he be separated, is to present him with a Busy Bone. These sterilized beef bones, when frozen with yummy fillings, will take a good while to clean out, keeping Rover occupied and happy to lick and lick this delicious new surprise. Check the links here for a few of my pups’ favorite ingredients.Tanner and Oliver with Wubbas

11. Most importantly, plan ahead to arrive an hour early. Stop nearby and take your dog on a long, adventurous walk, to make sure he arrives at your destination good and tired. A sure way to be asked back again is to arrive organized and prepared with a well-behaved, napping pup.

12. Repeat this walk each morning and before dinner each evening, rising before your hosts or any planned events, to walk your Fido on a different route each day. Variety is the spice of life, and for a dog it will mean more mental stimulation. This equates to another long nap.

Happy holidays…and to all a good pup!

Tanner on Carrie's shouldersCarrie Boyko writes the All Things Dog Blog, where her pack teaches her every day how to be a better pack leader.

  • Halloween can be pretty stressful for dogs that like to bark when the door bell rings, great tips! Thanks for sharing.

  • TimidDog says:

    Sometimes, the hardest part is training the family members – the first time we took our girl to Thanksgiving dinner I caught my mom holding her pie plate down so Misha could lick off the leftover whipped cream…

  • Michele C. Hollow says:

    Great tips. I look forward to visiting family and friends during the holidays, and that includes four-legged friends too. It is unpleasant when there is an unruly pet at someone's house. We love visiting one family member who has the best trained dog. It is so much fun spending time with them.

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