For those of us who are pet parents—or simply wish we were—we know that we love our dogs like we love our children. Unfortunately, some of us have friends and relatives who are a little iffy on accepting puppy kisses, let alone being in the same room as Fido.
With the holidays in full swing (and stress at an all-time high), it’s important to keep things, well, happy. Behold! A helpful how-to for fostering healthy relationships between wary humans and dogs. Merry everything!
Step 1: Give fair warning
Let’s face it: Family can be tough, and some people just flat-out won’t put up with your pets. Whether it’s allergies or an irrational fear, it’s important to be considerate and understanding up front. A friendly heads up that your dogs will, in fact, be part of the holiday festivities (hey, they’re like your kids, remember?) is a good place to start.
Step 2: Clean—and keep cleaning
Not that you’re not clean anyway, but if your guests suffer from allergies, for instance, it’s extra important to de-hair everything prior to their arrival, and to continue to keep things as hair-free as possible.
Muddy paws, accidents, excessive drool? Might not bother you so much anymore, but we have a feeling your guests could do without the mess. Again, it’s all about compromising to make sure everyone is happy.
Step 3: Leash ‘em
Dogs love humans, and regardless if yours has a propensity to jump and slobber all over new ones, it’s important to keep your pooch on a leash for the first greeting to ease the concerns of your guest and prevent the aforementioned jump and slobber.
Keep control of the situation and help facilitate the initial meeting to make sure things get off on the right foot. Dogs can sense when humans are nervous, which may make the dog feel nervous in return. The more relaxed you and your guest are, the more relaxed your pooch will be, and in turn, the happier everyone will be.
Step 4: Lend a hand
When we’re children, we’re taught never to lunge at a strange dog and go straight for a pat on the head, and instead, offer a hand for the dog to sniff. Dogs rely heavily on their senses, and offering a hand is the best way to ease into the introduction.
Step 5: Offer a reward
Encourage your dog to be calm and stay calm throughout the introduction with positive reinforcement, whether it’s a scratch of the ears and a “Good boy!” or a treat.
If your visitor is willing, have them offer the positive reinforcement to bond with your dog and help your dog make the association with that person. This will be especially helpful if your guest feels the need to tell your dog to calm or settle throughout their visit.
Step 6: Repeat!
Throughout your guest’s stay, continue to be calm and positive around your dog, and encourage and reward your dog’s good behavior.
Do you have any tips for keeping non-dog-lovers happy for the howlidays? We’d love to hear ’em in the comments below!