How Can I Help My Dog Become Comfortable in Crowds?

The holidays are here!  That means many of us will have friends and family in our homes.  The festivities may not be as big as before COVID, but a lot of people will still be connecting with loved ones on a small scale.  Crowds of any kind can be unsettling and/or overstimulating for unsuspecting pups.  At the same time, dog lovers don’t like putting their fur baby in a bedroom or kennel while everyone is over.  But we also don’t need them jumping on our guests and “sampling” the hors d’oeuvres.  So, how do we help our dogs become the perfect co-hosts?

Begin Socialization Early

Our pets need to be taught manners.  We wouldn’t expect human children to know how to behave without some instruction.  Dogs need similar patience and education.  Begin by teaching them the “sit” and “down” commands at home.  Once they have mastered those at home, you can try them out in public.  Be sure to reward good behavior with their favorite treats.  If your pup is behaving well in public, it may help to have people over before the holiday as a test run.  Doing so will give you time to correct any errors before guests arrive.

Exercise Before Company Arrives

Excess energy and a large crowd are a recipe for disaster.  Most of us are busy preparing until right before our guests arrive.  Scheduling even a short walk into your day, however, will help your pup to stay relaxed for the rest of the festivities.  If you don’t have time, Rover’s Recess would love to help.  Even just throwing the ball a few times would be helpful.  It is important to allow time for your dog to calm down after exercising and before people arrive, to avoid overstimulation.  Otherwise your pup may think everyone is coming over for a play date with them.

Keep Treats Handy

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool.  You will likely have used food as a reward in your training sessions.  Continuing to reward good behavior with treats, in moderation, will help your pup continue to be the perfect lady or gentleman.  Small treats specifically for training are available.  Simply put some in a baggy and stash it in your pocket until you need them.  You can even give some to guests so they can see all the wonderful tricks your fur friend can do.

Keep Your Dog Leashed While People are Entering

Maybe your dog isn’t quite ready to be loose while people come in the door.  The door continuously opening and closing can seem like an invitation for them to bolt.  If this is a concern, keep him or her on a leash while people are coming in.  It is safest to keep the leash in your hand at all times.  Then ask your guests to initially ignore your pup when they come in.  That way your dog can approach and meet your guests on their terms.  Once all your guests have arrived, it is important to take the leash off.  Dragging a leash around can quickly become a choking hazard for your pup or a tripping hazard for your guests.  It may seem odd to have your dog leashed in your home, but the leash can be a useful tool.

Keep A Favorite Toy Around

Many of us like to tidy up and stash toys away before friends and family come, however having a favorite toy available can help your pup settle down after meeting everyone.  Once everyone is inside and you have taken the leash off, give your pup their favorite toy.  It may very well encourage them to find a quiet place to chew and relax.  When your four-legged buddy is occupied, you can focus on your human loved ones.

Rover’s Recess hopes you have a fantastic holiday season. We are here to assist if you need a hand with your pets.  Please continue to follow our blog for more great pet tips!



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