Whether you’ve adopted a puppy just before the holidays or as a special Christmas event , it’s important not to delay their training. Here’s some advice to help teach your new pet how to behave during the festive season.
Focus on basic puppy training
With no school and usually a few days off work, chances are you and your family will be home more often at home during the holidays. This is perfect for basic puppy training! Using treats and rewards, focus on teaching your pet commands such as “sit”, “come” and “stay” which will come in handy throughout the season.
Establish a dog routine
While the holidays can be hectic, it’s important to establish a strict routine for meals, potty training, short daily walks, play time and sleeping. Do your best to adhere to this schedule—it’s better if your puppy gets used to it early, rather than having to retrain poor habits. Finally, make sure to gradually teach your new pet to stay home alone, to make the transition easier once work and school resume.
Puppy-proof your Christmas décor
While Christmas decorations can make your home come alive with some holiday cheer, they also provide countless distractions for your puppy-in-training. Use pet-friendly Christmas ornaments and hang any fragile ones further up the tree. Install a temporary barrier around the tree and gifts, to prevent unfortunate chewing incidents. Keep decorative plants like holly, poinsettias and mistletoe out of reach, as these are highly toxic to pets.
Keep your puppy apart during larger gatherings
If you’re not sure your puppy can handle the excitement of a family gathering, consider enclosing them in a separate room using a baby gate. This way, they’ll be able to see the action and interact with guests, but still have the freedom to walk away if they feel tired or need some peace and quiet. Make sure to provide them with all the essentials (food, water, puppy pads and toys) and to regularly visit them so they don’t feel punished.
Ask your guests to do their part
To make sure your dog and guests get along, ask people to:
- Remain calm, speak softly and avoid sudden movements around your puppy, to prevent getting them overly excited
- Not feed your pet any table scraps, regardless of how persuasive those puppy eyes can be
- To use the “sit” command, if you’ve already trained your dog to respond to it
Know and understand your dog’s unique character
Remember that a puppy is not a toy or an ornament, but a new member of your family, with their own personality, quirks, and flaws. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for them to behave like a professionally trained “TV dog,” and accept that their inquisitive or social nature may lead to moments ranging from amusing to downright embarrassing. Don’t punish them for bad behaviour, but rather encourage them to act properly using treats, love and care to make this holiday season the most special of all.