Local Woof: Surviving the Holidays

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Editor’s Note: The Local Woof is a column that’s sponsored and written by the staff of Woofs! Dog Training Center. Woofs! has full-service dog training, boarding, and daycare facilities, near Shirlington and Ballston.

The holidays are a great time for feast and family, but we all know sometimes having visitors can be stressful. The last thing you need is conflict between your dogs and your guests. Here are some tips to keep everyone happy.

Exercise: Schedule extra exercise time for the dog BEFORE your guests arrive. A good 30-45 minutes of hard exercise earlier in the day can make for a more pleasant afternoon or evening. For young exuberant dogs, skip the walk and instead play a nice rousing game of fetch, keep away or tug. Walking is inadequate exercise for all but the oldest of dogs. Thirty minutes of running and fetching is much better bang for your buck.

Quiet time: Make sure there is a place in your house where your dog can be comfortably confined when necessary. There is a natural state of high arousal when guests first arrive and your dog is likely to join in and add to the excitement. During arrival time it is a good idea to put the dog away with a nice marrow bone or frozen stuffed kong. After everyone has settled in and is seated is a much better time to introduce the dog to the mix. Dinner is another great time for the dog to take a break.

Leash: When introducing the dog to newcomers, do not be afraid to use a leash. Leashing is a convenient way to control your pup’s exuberance without having to put them away. Stepping on the leash to prevent jumping is a tried and true way to keep your pup off of your guests. After everyone has arrived and settled down, perhaps the leash can come off. A festive new leash can also add to the fun.

Treats: If your guests are dog friendly, ask them to help you encourage good manners. Have a big bowl of delicious and nutritious dog treats. Ask your guests to give the dog a treat every time he approaches and sits or lies down. Before long your dog will be running up to people and sitting automatically in exchange for a treat. You can feed your dog his entire dinner this way.

Sleep over: If you are having guests who really are not that fond of dogs, consider sending your dog to a good friend for a sleepover. For some shy or fearful dogs, being away from the chaos will be the best thing for them. If you have a guest who is afraid of dogs, you might enjoy their visit much more without having to worry about keeping them and the dog separate. A night spent with their doggy best friend might be the best idea.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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