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Dogs and Holiday Visitors: 3 Common Issues and How to Help

Posted on: December 4th, 2011 by

A dog with dog insurance sits near a Christmas tree.

By Liam Crowe, Bark Busters CEO and guest writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats

For many families, December holidays bring a change in routine and lots of extra commotion to the household— which can be stressful for your dog. Although you may be versed in pet health and behavior, with all the extra commotion, your pet many begin to exhibit unusual or undesirable behaviors like stealing food, jumping up on people, or growling or snapping at visitors.

Although it’s a good idea to have pet insurance in case of an accidental illness or injury during the holidays, the following tips can help keep your dog calm, happy and safe in your home this season.

1. Front door behaviors
Whether your dog perceives it as exciting or alarming, a knock on the door can be a stimulating and potentially dangerous event. It is natural for him to want to find out who the visitors are and to determine if they are friendly or not. However, a dog that behaves in an out-of-control manner at the sound of the doorbell is not only annoying, but unsafe. Your pet could harm himself by escaping out the door or getting underfoot and becoming a trip hazard. Your dog could also hurt others by knocking elderly visitors or children down, or even becoming aggressive to the visitors.

What to Do

  • To help your dog be calmer when guests are in your home, exercise him prior to their arrival. After 30 minutes of walking or playing, your dog will be more relaxed.
  • Don’t allow your dog to greet unfamiliar guests; this just causes more stress for everyone, your dog included.
  • Teach your dog to sit and stay; when the doorbell rings, put him in a sit-stay and do not open the door until he calms down. Practice this beforehand using friends and family members.
  • Consider putting your dog on a leash as visitors arrive so that you can keep better control of him.
  • If your dog gets too excited with arriving visitors, place him in his crate out of the way or in a quiet room, and then let him join the party later.
  • Make sure your dog wears his ID tags at all times and consider having him microchipped in case he should slip out the door with all the people coming in and out of your home. Pet insurance provides extra peace of mind in case of an accident or injury to your dog in this situation.

2. Children visitors
Dogs that are not used to being around children and the rise in energy level they bring may be uncomfortable or unsure when kids come to visit. If you don’t know how your dog will react to children, you should be sure to monitor and control all interactions between visiting kids and your dog.

What to Do

  • Always supervise children and dogs. Most dog bites to children occur when dogs and kids are left alone together.
  • Be sure that children of all ages know that they need to treat dogs with respect and gentleness.
  • Never allow a child to feed your dog by hand—this teaches the dog it is OK to take any food from a child.

3. Elderly dogs
Your older canine family members may not enjoy the extra hustle and bustle of the holidays. As much as possible, try to keep your senior dogs comfortable when their routines are disrupted.

What to Do

  • If your older dog seems to get cranky around guests, take him to a quiet place where he won’t be bothered and can feel safe and secure.
  • Remind kids to be especially respectful of your elderly dog.

Be proactive in thinking about how new and exciting holiday activities will affect your dog. Be sure to research pet insurance before the holidays and manage your pet’s interactions with all visitors to ensure a fun and safe holiday season for your dog, family members and guests.

For more information about dog training, visit Bark Busters. For additional information about pet health insurance visit www.petsbest.com.

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