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

The Okanagan High Rim Trail officially opened in April 1994. Pictured are Western Canada Wilderness Committee volunteers Bruce Sumner and Jean Elmer. (Greater Vernon Museum and Archives photo #14932)
Vernon history in pictures

A look at the opening of a trail running from Vernon to Kelowna

Vernon Search and Rescue, with help from the Air Rescue One helicopter out of Wildcat Helicopters in Kelowna, and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue, were able to transport an injured snowmobiler to Vernon Regional Airport, where he was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital with a serious, painful back injury. (Facebook photo)
Okanagan helicopter rescue teams called to retrieve injured sledder at Greystokes

Vernon and Central Okanagan Search and Rescue help load injured man into waiting helicopter

Kerri and Kevin Black are highlighted for their volunteer work with the Carr's Landing Community and Recreation Association. (Contributed)
Lake Country couple’s passion to make a difference

Spotlight on Carr’s Landing Community and Recreation Association volunteers

Pink Shirt Day’s anti-bullying messaging on Feb. 24 should be understood every day of the year. (Contributed)
COLUMN: Millennial’s guide to online trolls, bullies

Messages of Pink Shirt Day should be front of mind all year long, especially online

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

(Contributed)
Kelowna flight potentially exposed to COVID-19

Third case on a local flight this month, compared to 14 through January

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Wills Hodgkinson, 10, and his mom Neeley Brimer get ready to battle round three of cancer. The community of Penticton has his back. (Submitted)
Community raises $21K to help Penticton boy battle third round of cancer

Okanoggin Barbers held the fundraiser on Saturday for 10-year-old Wills Hodgkinson

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
UPDATE: 70-year-old man killed in workplace accident at Baldy Mountain

The mountain closed on Saturday but has partially re-opened today (Sunday)

Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

Chase RCMP held two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight in their detachment’s cells on Feb. 6. (File Photo)
Chase RCMP hold two men involved in drunken disturbances overnight

The two separate incidents took place less than an hour apart.

Most Read