Pawsative Pups: The ‘howl’idays are here

Pawsative Pups: The ‘howl’idays are here

Lisa Davies is a new columnist for Black Press who writes about dog training

It’s that time of year again, shopping, gift giving, and family/friends visiting.

Let’s look at it from your dog’s point of view. For most families, they may have large gatherings about 3 times a year, some more and some less. When we have a dog that is not used to a lot of people, children, or all of the sights and sounds that come with it, it can be stressful and scary.

I receive is an escalation of calls right after the holidays, with worried pet owners who have had incidents over the holidays. The worst part is, even if no one is injured, the stress to both the dog and the humans, is not worth it! It’s much better to be prepared and prevent your dog from being in a situation where he feels he needs to respond at all.

We talk about the 3 “F’s” in dogs.

When they are in an environment that they consider scary, they have three options. Flight, Fight, or Freeze. For many dogs, when feeling cornered, their only option is to “fight”. This could even include someone that is just trying to pet them if they feel there is no other option at that moment. They get stuck, and feel the only option is “fight”. Fight could be a growl, lunge, and if needed, a bite.

So, just how can we set them up to succeed for all these upcoming gatherings and any in the future? (Keeping in mind, if you find a qualified force free trainer, you can begin to work on a behaviour modification plan to help things change!)

I would suggest one of two options:

1: If you know your dog is already a bit nervous of loud commotion, children, or people in general, this is not the time to train!! This is the time to manage and prevent any incident. Management could mean putting your dog somewhere safe and comfortable. Exercise him well before your visitors arrive. If you have some visitors he is comfortable with, they can go and visit him at any time! Most importantly, buy him or make him some great things to do/eat while he is in his safe room. Snuffle mats can actually be made at home. or stuff a rubber Kong and freeze it (or other Kong products, they are all great!)

  • You can also use Adaptil spray/ plug in is a good option. This emits a copy of a naturally occurring pheromone, produced by lactating mother dogs, that helps to moderate anxiety. You can also use lavender in a diffuser (which has been proven to relax dogs!) as well as a radio or white noise machine.
  • Set this room up ahead of time so that your dog has already made a positive association with it.

2: If your dog is all right with visitors, not fearful but not overly fond either, I would suggest putting him behind double baby gates so that he can see the action but can have his own space to rest as well. When things die down a bit, and there are less visitors, you could let him come out then and have a visit but until then I would suggest a double gate system (using baby gates). This is using two gates as above, although this is a photo of outside gates, so that there is a space in between them.

  • This is so that children (and adults!) can’t place their hands over the gate to say hi and scare your pup! I had this exact case last year at Christmas, it resulted in a bad dog bite and a child in the ER at Christmas.

You still want to have some great things for your dog to do, bully sticks, are excellent too, Kongs and more!

If at any time you think your dog is stressed, have a room ready for him to go.

With some easy planning, both you and your dog can enjoy the holidays! Here’s hoping that your whole family, four legged and two legged, have a wonderful holiday season!

About Lisa Davies:

Lisa Davies (KPA-CTP, CDBC, CTC) has been training for 17 years. She graduated from the Academy for Dog Trainers, the Harvard of Dog Training Programs, and is also a certified Behaviour Consultant, specializing in aggression, including dog to human. She has a huge passion for helping rescues become more adoptable through training and is an BC SPCA Animalkind Accredited Trainer.

She shares her home with her husband, two Terriers, a Pointer and a Chihuahua, two goats, a miniature horse and two bunnies.

Contact Lisa at:

Pawsitively Canine Dog Training Services

www.pawsitivelycanine.ca

(604)836-5948

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

Follow public health recommendations, says Interior Health as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Revelstoke. (Image courtesy CDC)
Revelstoke positive COVID cases grows to 29

Interior Health announced a cluster in the community on Nov. 26

Figure skaters in the old skating rink in the 1940s. 
(Revelstoke Museum and Archives photo 4034)
Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Nov. 26

A look a local history as recorded by the newspaper

Cst. Dane Storey was recognized as a member of Alexa’s Team, a provincial recognition paying tribute to police officers who make an extraordinary contribution to reducing the number of impaired drivers on the roads. (Submitted/Revelstoke RCMP)
Alexa’s Team awarded to Revelstoke RCMP officer

Cst. Dane Storey removed 59 impaired drivers from B.C. roads in 2019

Revelstoke Mountain Resort opens for the season tomorrow, Nov. 27, 2020. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Know before you go: Revelstoke Mountain Resort opens tomorrow

Masks are mandatory, lineup opens at 6:30 a.m.

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks along the seawall in North Vancouver Wednesday, November 25, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
911 new COVID-19 cases, 11 deaths as B.C. sees deadliest week since pandemic began

Hospitalizations reach more than 300 across the province

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Summerland residents have been receiving a telephone scam with the number showing as the telephone number of the local RCMP detachment. (Black Press Media files)
Summerland RCMP telephone number spoofed in scam calls

Number used in scam attempts from tax agency

(Village of Lumby photo)
Mysterious, loud ‘boom’ shakes North Okanagan residents

Village staff, Earthquakes Canada aren’t sure what caused the explosion-like sound

Clarence Fulton students collect cash and non-perishable food donations for families in need in their community Friday, Nov. 27. (Jennifer Smith  - Morning Star)
North Okanagan students collect food for families in need

Annual event to support nine school families this year

Take a break from the slopes to discover the rich culture and diversity of Vernon. Michelle Beaudry photo, courtesy Tourism Vernon.
Tourism Vernon could see 40% cut to budget due to COVID-19

New approach to help residents and visitors activate their adventures

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

Penticton law courts
Osoyoos child sex offender in court

Shawn Titus, 37, is charged with possession of child porn

Leighton Allen Labute faces charges of animal abuse and allegedly has a string of social media accounts depicting disturbing content.
Accused Kelowna hamster killer has trial date set for 2021

Leighton Labute’s three day trial is scheduled for Aug. 16, 2021

Most Read