Here’s a list of things you want to brush up on before you and your dogs embark on holiday adventures.
- Place – This is an important command that we emphasize in all of our board and train dogs. We want our dogs to understand a place command so that we can give them a task to work on while we can’t pay attention to them. For us, we usually use a dog bed that we can bring to a new venue so they have a recognizable place to go to. A blanket also works great for a place command.
- Polite greetings – Your dog should at minimum know that they must keep 4 feet on the floor when greeting guests. If they have not mastered this, take them out to meet a bunch of strangers and practice sitting for greetings. If they are still struggling and people come over, keep them on a leash when guests are around, so you don’t let them get further entrenched in their bad habits. My favorite technique consists of dropping the leash and just putting your foot on it so they can’t jump. Your dog should never be rewarded for jumping on anyone. If anyone ever allows it and pets them, make sure you override them by letting them know your dog is in training and that is not acceptable behavior.
- Door behavior – Your dog should be well trained with an open door. Strangers will be coming into and out of the house and you may not be around to enforce the commands. This means your dog could bark at strangers or slip out of the house when you are not around. Be honest about your dog’s skills – if they are not great with door behavior, have them contained in a space with either a crate or leash if you are unable to pay full attention to them.
- Stays – This is similar to a place command, but can be done anywhere. I like to practice during meal times. This way the dog knows where to stay when you are eating dinner, so you don’t have to deal with excessive begging. If your dog can’t do a stay through a meal, then that is the perfect practice time for the next month.
- Leave it – Your dog needs to know that if food hits the floor, then it is not a free-for-all dash to get there. Your dog should both know the verbal command to "leave it" and also should know that there is an “implied” leave it all the time unless you say otherwise. Practice throwing bits of food on the floor and having them leave it for just a couple minutes every day.