The most wonderful and stressful time of the year is upon us, and while we’re busy decking the halls, our furry friends might be feeling a little “ruff” about all the holiday hustle and bustle. But fear not, because I’ve got the inside scoop on how to turn your dog into the ultimate holiday host with some festive training games.
‘Tis the Season for Calm Canines
Let’s face it, our canine companions can get a bit frazzled when the doorbell is ringing like Santa’s sleigh bells on Christmas Eve. That’s why I’m here to share the magic of games-based training to keep your pup’s tail wagging, even when the house is filled with more visitors than a family of elves.
Game On: The Jingle Bell Challenge
First up, let’s tackle the jingling jungle that is your front door during the holiday season. Turn this potentially anxiety-inducing scenario into a fun game for your dog! I call it the “Jingle Bell Challenge.” This game is a festive adaptation of Absolute Dog’s DMT and Ding Dong Dash.
Step 1: Jingle All the Way
Tie some jingle bells to a string and hang it on your doorknob. Allow your pup to sniff and investigate the bells without any pressure.
Step 2: Ring-a-Ding-Ding
Gently shake the bells and reward your dog with a treat when they remain calm. This teaches them that the sound of bells equals good things.
Step 3: Doorbell Serenade
Gradually introduce the sound of the doorbell, either through a recording or by having a friend ring it. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to your neighbours “Can you please ring my doorbell every time you walk past my front door so that I can train my dog?” Repeat the process, rewarding your dog for staying chill.
Before you know it, your dog will be the MVP of doorbell diplomacy. To upskill the Jingle Bell Challenge add a Boundary and reward your pooch for hopping on their mat or getting in their crate when the doorbell rings.
Santa-Approved Tree Training
Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, how do we keep our dogs from trashing you? Fear not, my festive friend, because I’ve got a training game for that too!
The Ornament Obstacle Course
Step 1: Puppy-Proof the Perimeter
Set up your Christmas tree in a designated area and create a safe zone around it using baby gates or furniture. This will create a tree space that you can let your pooch enter to play the game and then close off when you’re done to keep those presents safe from a sniffing schnoz. Remember, Management is training too!
Step 2: Ornament Hide and Seek
Hide some dog-friendly toys or treats among the lower branches of the tree. Let your pooch into the tree space. Encourage your pup to find the goodies and praise them for keeping their paws off the ornaments and their teefies away from the gifts.
Step 3: Decoration Distraction
Gradually add non-breakable decorations to the tree, rewarding your dog for ignoring them. Patience is key – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your pup won’t become the tree’s friend overnight.
Wrap It Up: Gifting Good Behaviour
We all know that presents under the tree are like a siren song to curious canines. Instead of scolding them for unwrapping Nanna’s gift prematurely, let’s turn it into a game. The Wrap it Up games will help Fido understand that the gifts are not all for them.
The Unwrapping Extravaganza
Step 1: Wrap It Right
Practice wrapping empty boxes and encourage your dog to “help” by holding bits of paper in their mouth. Reward them for their “assistance” by rewarding with a piece of food away from the wrapping zone. Stan Lee loves to “halp”.
Step 2: Gift Guarding
Set up a few wrapped boxes and teach your dog the “leave it” command. Reward them when they resist the urge to rip into the paper by throwing a piece of their food away from the box.
Step 3: Grand Finale
Gradually add some tempting scents to the wrapped boxes and continue reinforcing good behaviour. Your dog will soon see gifts as off-limits, at least until the big day when you hand them their gift and say “OK GO”!
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – and All Was Calm
So, there you have it – the secrets to turning your dog into the host with the most this holiday season. With a little games-based training, your Furkid will be ready to welcome visitors, Santa, and even that novel Christmas tree. Remember, it’s all about having fun and creating positive associations. May your days be merry, and your paws be jolly!
Happy holiday season from all of us at Little Angels Dog Training!