6 Steps to Get Your Dog Ready for Holiday Guests

November 17, 2022 / Lifestyle, Seasonal / By: Lilianna Parker

Prepare Your Dog Ready for Holiday Guests

The holidays are an exciting time of year for dogs and humans alike. However, it can also be a stressful time. Sadly, some dogs will feel this stress more strongly than others.

Most of getting your dog ready for holiday guests involves you making some alterations to your home. Brushing up on some essential commands will also help make things easier.

Get ready because we will be explaining how you can have the most stress-free holiday season yet!

Let’s get right into how you can prepare your dog for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

6 Tips To Prepare Your Dog For Holiday Guests

1. Get Preventative and Veterinary Care Covered in Advance

Unfortunately, the holidays are a very busy time for vet clinics. This can make it difficult to schedule the appointments that you want.

It is always best to get preventative veterinary care out of the way before the holiday season if you can. This will prevent you from having scheduling issues, and it will also leave spots open for emergency care.

Besides, who wants to worry about going to the vet at Christmas time? Getting these things taken care of before the holidays will help reduce your stress. Stocking up on flea, tick, and heartworm prevention is also a good idea.

2. Polish Your Dog’s Skills on Some Essential Basic Obedience Commands

Of course, it could never hurt to practice some of the basic training commands like stay and leave it, etc.

This is especially true before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Brushing up on these skills will help keep your pet safe around common holiday foods and treats. It will also keep them safe around open doors, fireplaces, and dangerous items like glassware.

  • Stay
  • Leave-It
  • Drop-It
  • Come (Recall)
  • A place command (Go Lay Down, Go to Your Spot, etc.)
Do not allow holiday guests to feed your dog from the table

A good place command and reliable recall are life savers if your dog escapes onto the street. Meanwhile, commands like stay and leave-It will help keep your dog safe within the home. Drop-it can be incredibly beneficial if your dog picks something up without your realizing it.

It is a good idea to start practicing commands like these at least a few weeks before the holiday and in particular in the room where your dog(s) will be staying. This will allow you to have enough time to make some improvements if you need to.

3. Get Your Dog Used to People Coming and Going

Some dogs get really anxious or excited with the arrival of guests. If this sounds like your dog, then following this step will be especially helpful.

It is a good idea to get your dog used to the doorbell, knocking on the door, and people coming into the home. This is especially true if you plan on having many guests over the holidays.

Over time repeating these experiences will get your dog used to people coming and going. When your dog becomes desensitized to this they will become less reactive when people are at the door.

It is best to start this process as early as possible. This is especially true if you have a dog that is particularly reactive to the doorbell. Starting early will give you enough time to desensitize your dog to people arriving.

If your dog cannot seem to shake their bad habits, then having a place for them to go and calm down is best. Doing this will prevent your dog from overwhelming or frightening your guests. It will also prevent your dog from becoming overwhelmed as well. Giving your dog a chew or toy can help get them through this process more easily.

4. Get Crates and Baby Gates Set Up

Having crates and baby gates set up will allow you to separate your dog at the last minute. This is especially useful when you have fluffy guests or small children coming into the home.

Having these things already set up before guests arrive will set you and your pet up for a fun holiday.

Get Crates and Baby Gates Set Up

Having a secure place to put your dog is excellent even for those with dogs that will always be well-behaved. After all, sometimes we just can’t trust our four-year-old nephew to not feed our dog snacks at dinner time.

Crates and indoor gates can also be good tools for separating pets when we need to. This is especially true if the pets have never met before. Even without any scuffles, separating pets now and then will help reduce stress and help them relax.

5. Set up a Comfortable Place for Your Dog to Rest

The holiday season can sometimes feel as stressful as they are exciting.

Our dogs will often feel this stress as well. Having a safe and quiet place set up for your dog is a great way to help them relax. Particularly when they start to feel overstimulated or stressed out.

Finding a spot that is not very busy is best. This could be a home office, a spare bedroom, or even a quiet part of your living room. The most important thing is choosing a spot that is quiet and comfortable.

Place a cosy cave dog bed, some blankets, and some of your dog’s favorite toys in the area you choose. This will help your dog feel more comfortable and make them more inclined to go and relax there.

Some dog owners may choose to have their dog's quiet space be a way to separate them from others. This can be helpful when they start to become reactive. If this is the case, having a separate room for your dog is best.

Your dog will likely calm down more quickly in a separate room. This is because they cannot see or hear the overwhelming stimuli anymore. It will also help reduce barking and other behaviors that can become stressful.

6. Remember to Have Fun!

Winter Time Fun With Your Dog

The holidays should be a fun experience to spend with our friends, family, and pets. So, it is always important to remember to have fun!

Following all the steps above has helped reduce stress in both dogs and their owners. Not only does this make the holidays more enjoyable, but it makes them safer as well.


Lilianna Parker

Lilianna Parker is a certified dog trainer through the Animal Behavior College, and has been involved in training dogs in the New York State community for several years. Lilianna has also written numerous works on dog training using positive reinforcement. She believes that every dog owner should have the tools that they need to see their dogs succeed. Her articles and blog posts about dog training are excellent ways for dog owners to get started with force-free training. She owns Simply Positive Dog Training and when she’s not writing or training, she enjoys going for hikes with her Shiba Inu called Cleo!

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