* Prepare your pup for the party:
• Begin by getting him comfortable around a larger crowd of people
• There are many dog parks, outdoor restaurants, and shopping malls you can take him to get him acclimated
• Greet people, slowly allow them to pet him, offer consistent reassurance of your presence and protection
• Remind greeters to allow your pup to smell their hand first, then pet your pup on his back while avoiding directly approaching the face without warning-none of us would like that invasion, right?
Dogs have sensitive noses; even before they can visually spot something, they use their sense of smell to assess. Recently, while filming an episode with rescue dogs in training to become working dogs for disaster relief, I realized how much their keen sense of smell allowed them to find people trapped deep below collapsed buildings or lost in densely wooded areas. It’s no wonder a dog goes straight for the aroma of food on a table; it takes a very disciplined dog to not jump to try and procure a treat. Remember that the process of training a dog to not jump up on a table is lengthy, so trying to impose new rules during a party will likely prove futile.
* Table Surfing Saves:
• Don’t abandon your rules during a get-together – dogs need consistency, not mixed signals
• Avoid giving your pup free rein to graze for food on the floor or tabletops
• Place your pup on a leash with a bone or toy so they can be part of the fun but have a distraction
Guests have likely prepared what they are going to wear to your shindig, and in many cases, they’ll bring a plate of food and surely don’t want your dog jumping on them. A few guidelines for all will help avoid that.
*Your guests may need a little training too :
• Make guests aware your pup will be around at the celebration and to avoid over-stimulating him
• Ask guests to avoid paying too much attention to your pet before allowing him to settle down
• While guests intend no harm by offering your pup a table scrap, ask them to kindly not feed him table food (this can be confusing to your pup that is trying to follow your directions of not intruding or begging)
*Fireworks…fun for you…scary for your dog:
Like their keen sense of smell, dogs rely heavily on their hearing. Loud sounds can be frightening, especially if sudden. Remember our furry friends don’t literally understand our language – they are trained to understand movements, sounds, and verbal commands. While events like thunder and lightning are inevitable anxiety producers in dogs, remind yourself how daunting an explosive blast of lights and sounds can be to a dog.
• Before any fireworks begin, find a quiet, removed area for your pup
• Create a bed with something reassuring such as a blanket, a shirt you’ve recently worn, or a favorite toy
• If your space doesn’t allow for your pup’s reprieve from the booms, consider providing ample distance and holding your pup (while remembering that ‘watching’ fireworks is not something your dog really wants to do)
• While you can count on all dogs being sensitive to a barrage of lights and sounds, certain dogs are especially prone to sensory overload which can cause a heightened level of anxiety and they may (like human infants) need an extra layer of protection to their ears
• Remember dogs may speak our love language but they don’t understand practical linguistics, so explaining to them that the fireworks won’t harm them is futile – they need to FEEL the protection from YOU, so preparation is KEY!
Your pup is intuitive, smart, and adaptable, but anticipating a rowdy bunch or a fireworks show is something they depend on you to do…and when you do, they’ll be calmer and happier which, of course, will allow you to have much more fun!