The title of this column might lead you to believe it was printed the wrong week. I intentionally planned this column before the end of the holiday season. Preparation is always good.
The hype and rush increases daily. Stress levels mount. No matter how calm we try to be, at some point, the season gets to us. And, when it gets to us, it gets to our dogs. Dogs sense the tension in the house and respond to it with bad behavior. Most dog owners are well aware of that.But they may not realize some dogs react worse when the stress ends.
Company, feasts, decorations, more company, all manner of food, and package temptations all work to create huge stress for your canine family members. And, typically, the day after it is over we sigh and look forward to a nice relax. While your dog may be quite exhausted, the activity has taken a toll.
Be warned, if your dog was the perfect host during the festivities, he needs to de-stress. And, sometimes, dogs do that by exhibiting all the behaviors they held in. I get as many phone calls from troubled owners after a holiday as during a full moon. (That is reserved for another column.)
It is much easier to prepare for and hopefully prevent bad behavior than recover from it after it happens. During the crazy days, and especially while company is at your house, be sure your dog gets daily exercise. Rain, shine, snow, or sleet, your dog still needs the same amount of exercise each day. And, if you want him calm and well-mannered with company, the first step is exercise.
Secondly, the next few weeks brush up on long SIT STAYs and DOWN STAYs. If he won't do them when the household's empty, he surely won't when company comes. Teach your dog whether he's in a SIT or a DOWN he must remain in position until you release him. Despite distractions, he cannot get out of position. Everyone will benefit from your few weeks polishing the obedience.
Thirdly, while the company is there be sure your dog is allowed to rest. If he goes to his crate or his bed of his own volition, he realizes he needs a break. Do not allow anyone to bother him when he rests. His bed and his crate should be his 'safe places' and he deserves to be left alone when he is there. No one should wake or disturb him.
The day after, when all is settled and normal, be mindful of him. His patience may be at its end. He needs his walk, but he also needs to recoup. Give him some extra rests in his crate. Give him extra attention and affection.
Be cautious with your dog during the next few weeks. Watch for signs of distress and give him quiet time away from the noise as needed. Everyone will have a happier season.
Chandra Lynn Smith owns Best Friend Dog Training. She holds a bachelor's degree in animal bio-science, has eight years experience as a veterinary technician, and is a certified professional dog trainer from the National K9 School of Dog Trainers. She's been training dogs since 1984. You may address your questions to her via email at ChandraLynnS@gmail.com, BestFriendDogTrn@aol.com or by mail to The Evening Sun, c/o Chandra Lynn Smith, 135 Baltimore St., Hanover, PA 17331.