Downeast Dog News

The Party Animal (?)

Parties and Dogs don’t Always Mix
By | Nov 01, 2019

Here we are, at the tail end of 2019 with 2020 looming close. It’s hard to believe another year is about to disappear behind us. With the ringing out of one year, the welcoming in of the next and holidays in between come many festivities and gatherings. We humans may revel in this revelry, but our beloved pooches may not be quite as enthusiastic.

The Perfect Party Dog

Do you have a dog who loves to be in the thick of activities, who greets strangers and friends like old pals, who has good manners and needs very little management to ensure everything is copacetic? If you answered “yes,” consider yourself very lucky! This article may not be for you if you have the Perfect Party Dog, but your next dog may benefit from careful management and some training to make those gatherings more pleasurable for all species attending.

Dog Duty

When we are hosting a party, the last thing we tend to think about is what to do with the dog, but it’s a good idea to factor him into the picture just as we would the kids. Delegate someone to Dog Duty. It is this person’s responsibility to make sure the dog feels safe and comfortable and that guests are safe and comfortable, too. The Dog Duty person needs to have plenty of treats to reward the dog for making good choices and needs to have a plan in place in case good choices are deficient.

Where would your dog feel most comfortable?

Parties aren’t for Scaredy Dogs.

If your pup tends to be fearful or wary of strangers, it’s best to relegate him to a quiet place away from the action or even have him stay somewhere else for the duration of the party. Kudos to you if you have maintained your dog’s crate training because this is the perfect time for the fearful dog to enjoy his sanctuary. The over-the-top social dog lacking the skills for proper intermingling with guests is also an excellent candidate for crating. Most dogs haven’t read the Miss Canine Manners columns and need intentional training to build these skills, so unless you have trained them, don’t expect your dog to suddenly know what he’s supposed to do.

What would you like your dog to do when guests arrive?

Set your dog up for success. Keep your dog from greeting people at the door in order to give him some space to enter. Dog greetings can be done in another space.

Be mindful of how your guests feel about getting dog attention.

Some people would rather not have their personal space invaded by a dog and some feel awkward around dogs. Call your dog away so as to respect that person’s preferences.

The flip side: Are any of your guests unwittingly (or wittingly) sabotaging your dog’s training? Be watchful for interactions that might contribute to undesirable behaviors.

What would you like your dog to do while the party is going on?

Decide ahead of time, and then plan how you can help your dog want to do those things. For instance, if you’d like your dog to enjoy an activity in a specific area, add value to that area by feeding him there or offering him a treat dispensing toy on a regular basis. He will gravitate towards that area if he finds it potentially rewarding. A scavenger hunt (toss treats or kibble on the floor) will keep him busy for a while, too.

Don’t expect perfect manners if you haven’t taken the time to train them.

If you find yourself saying, “you know better than that!” your pup has not been trained to the level needed for that particular situation. It’s not his fault - he just needs more help from you to master the skills necessary. A party is a very exciting situation, and oftentimes even a simple “sit” doesn’t work.

Food, food, food!!

Your dog may have good manners when the daily routine is followed, but when there’s food aplenty, he may not be able to resist temptation. Keep an eye on him - you don't want him to get addicted to table surfing for ever after!

Leash him up

Keeping your dog on leash at least part of the time will limit his movement and choices and also give him a break from feeling compelled to get in on everything, and it’s the simplest management tool around!

Take care of your dog, and then go have fun and party heartily!