Black and white puppy looks up in anticipation to a kong toy

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Dear Crystal,

I am having a lot of guests come over for Thanksgiving. I have a year-old Shit Zu that gets super excited and pushy about getting attention from my guests. Some of my guests don’t really like dogs so they don’t appreciate his advances. How can I keep him from being such a bother?


Annoyed Dog Mom


a group of people are gathered around a table set for Thanksgiving

Dear Annoyed,

The holidays can certainly be a joyous time to celebrate family and friends. It can also be very stressful when those friends and family diverge on our homes. It is great that you are trying to make a plan ahead of time. Good training is very much about planning and management. We need to know the triggers for our dog’s naughty behaviors and work to prevent them. For most people, Thanksgiving is not an ideal time to be trying to train a dog.

I would suggest that you keep him confined in some way when your guests are over. If he is crate trained, you can try to crate him in a room with the television on for some white noise.  That won’t work for some dogs who will carry on and make quite a fuss if you try to confine them all alone while there is fun going on outside. Trying to wait it out and listening to a dog scream for hours doesn’t make for great ambiance for your party. If that is the case, maybe try to put the crate in the room with everyone so he can see what is going on. If he doesn’t do well in a crate, my next suggestion would be a baby gate so he can be quarantined in a dog friendly area of the house. That way the people that do like dogs can go and hang out with him.

I am a huge fan of the training tether. A training tether is a management tool to keep the dog in areas with people and keep them from wandering off and getting into trouble. I used this technique a lot with my new dog for a variety of reasons. It kept him from bothering my other dog who was not used to him, prevented him from chasing the cats and gave me a way to manage him while I was cooking when he was getting underfoot. You can either attach a leash to a piece of furniture, screw an eyebolt in the wall or take the umbilical cord approach. The umbilical cord method is where we attach the dog’s leash to ourselves so that we always have an eye on them. That may not work in this instance if your guests are coming up to you a lot so I would suggest hooking him to some heavy furniture.  You can put him somewhere that he feels a part of the action but far enough that he can’t accidentally jump up on people.

If you have guests that would like to help you train him not to jump up, this could be a great training opportunity. You can have them do a little training exercise. Arm them with some amazing treats first. Instruct them to approach the dog and if he looks like he is about to jump up, turn and walk away. If they approach and he stays on the ground, give him a treat and walk away. If he knows how to sit, we can move on to waiting until he sits before he gets the treat. We can slowly start to increase the time we wait before we give him a treat and then eventually build in petting him while he is sitting.

Black and white puppy looks up in anticipation to a kong toyWhy not make him his own dog friendly Thanksgiving feast? I would suggest giving him a frozen enrichment toy such as a Kong stuffed with some dog safe Thanksgiving themed foods. There are several safe fillers you can use. Start with a little sweet potato, some turkey breast, unsweetened pumpkin, and you can add green beans or cranberries and freeze for a few hours.  If you don’t have a kong, you can use a paper towel tube which makes a free enrichment toy your dog can rip up. You can give this to him when you need him to be occupied during the meal.

If possible, I would suggest a nice long walk or play session prior to your guests coming over. It usually helps a dog to have a really good energy burn to help them behave better.

If these techniques don’t work for you, I would suggest that you contact a boarding facility or a pet sitter that does pet sitting in their own home.  You have a goal for next year to work on these skills so that he will be better equipped for guests next year. It would probably be a much less stressful option for you if you don’t feel like you can manage him this time around. It may also help to have a little more maturity in him. I hope these tips help and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Until next time,




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