We had a great chat with Emma from Two Oily Ems about her business in our Dog Talk With..... series. Emma and her partner have an excellent blog, and agreed that we could share this post with you. With Christmas just around the corner, these tips could be useful if your dog can be a bit of a pork chop.
Christmas day is organised, you have family coming over and it is going to be a big day. Whether it’s Christmas day or another big event spending time with our loved ones can be a joyful time but for some dogs this can be super stressful.
You may have a dog that does not cope with noise or new people or children, or a dog that gets very excitable and jumps over everyone. You want the day to go well so what can you do to ensure a stress-free day not just you but also for your dog.
Like the big day itself it’s all in the preparation, so starting some routines in advance is going to be the key to success.
Here are some tips to managing your dog when you have guests coming over.
Ensure your dog has a quiet safe place they can retreat to.
This is important for both an anxious or excitable dog. This could be a bedroom or laundry area where their bed goes. Many anxious dogs like peace and quiet and are quite happy to be away from the noise so get them set up prior to the day with their bed and toys.
For an excitable dog a quiet space is a chance for them to calm down but they may not be as happy to go there. Take the time prior to the day and set a space up and get them used to being in there (See tip 5 for setting up a space).
It’s important to get them used to this using positive techniques and not use the space as a punishment. Using treats or toys when they go into the room can help create a positive experience. This might take you a week or longer but its worth investing the time in getting on top of this behaviour not just at Christmas time but for anytime you have guests over. It’s worth getting the advice of a qualified dog trainer. One who uses positive reinforcement methods.
Not sure how to pick the right trainer? Check out https://www.apdt.com.au/ The site has fantastic information such as how to choose a trainer and has a directory of trainers across Australia.
Organise separate areas within the house
Baby gates are great inventions not just for children but also for dogs and worth investing in a few before the day.
Keeping your nervous and excitable pooch away from excitable children is imperative not just for the safety of the child but also for the sake your dog.
So if you have children or families with children coming plan ahead with organising separate areas.
Dog rules for visitors
Talk with your guests before they come and put some ground rules in place. This is especially important when you have a dog that jumps all over people or goes crazy when they arrive.
Sometimes it’s easier said than done but having guests ‘rev’ up an excitable dog is just promoting the behaviour you are trying to work on. Let your guests know your dog is in training so ask them ignore your dog when he is jumping up and remaining calm is going to be the key.
Lets face it though there is always one guest that doesn’t follow the rules and forgets (or chooses to forget) and goes overboard undoing all your hard work. Try putting your dog in their quiet space prior to guests arriving and reminding them before letting your dog out. Giving your guest dog treats and getting them to make your dog sit can also be helpful. If your dog continues to be excited or your guest isn’t listening calmly pop him back to his quiet space. (The dog that is!! Although the guest would be a better option in some cases!!)
What if your guest wants to bring their dog and your dog does not like other dogs?
Asking your guest to politely make other arrangements is one option but if that is not possible it’s about managing the day and discussing with your guest how you both do this.
We have had a lot of experience in this with our two and again the baby gates have been a lifesaver and having a safe place they can go to. Having discussions with your guest about how this will happen is going to be the key to a calm day with a joint effort from all fur parents involved.
How to set up a quiet safe space for your dog
So we have talked about having a quiet space but what does this look like?
- Introduce a calming oil to their routine and use this in their quiet space. There are many essential oils that can help with calming the emotions. Start introducing these a good week or two before the day. Do this through a play session or a little massage to start with and diffusing in a room although always give your pet an exit. Make it positive so they start associating it with a good experience.
Using a calming spray for their bedding can be helpful and not as overpowering as diffusing. Pets need an exit when we diffuse so don’t set one up if your dog can’t leave the room. A better option is spraying their bedding or area where they can walk away from if they need to.
Lavender, Frankincense or Copaiba are great calming oils but remember to use them safely. Check out our safety tips on how to use oils safely with your dogs HERE
– Using music in the room. There are some great apps and music you can download specifically for pets. Set up an option to play this. We love Pet Tunes, a little Bluetooth box that has tunes already loaded on to it. If you have a chewer make sure it’s out of reach.
– If you have a chewer, investing in some heavy-duty chew toys or a Kong toy is a great option. Chewing is a great stress reliever and munching away on a Kong toy can provide the perfect distraction especially for food focused dogs. If you have items, you don’t want destroyed then take them out. Changing the environment is way less stressful than saying no especially when a dog is in training. These things take time and things get chewed in the process so make the area as chew proof as possible and remove all items of value.
Remember as a fur parent it is up to us to ensure our dog has a stress-free day and it’s worth noting remaining calm is going to be so important after all we all want to have an enjoyable day!
Not sure where to begin using essential oils and looking for ways to manage your dogs naturally? Book in your free 15 minute ‘BarknChat’ and find out more.
Disclaimer: These are general tips so we always recommended to get the advice of a vet or vet behaviourist or a qualified dog trainer before you start especially in extreme cases.
Thanks to Two Oily Ems for sharing this with us - you can check out their other posts here