The guest list is set. The menu is planned. The table is laid out, and the music is playing softly in the background—you’re ready for your upcoming party!
Whether you’re hosting a Halloween party, a football watching party, birthday party, or a casual get-together it is a great time to connect and have fun…but what about your puppy? You will be happily welcoming your guests to your house and they will want to interact with your new puppy, but is your puppy party-ready?
Before you plan your next party, we have some tips to keep your puppy calm, and more importantly, safe during the party.
Tips For Introducing Your Puppy To People
You need to understand how your puppy has reacted, and will likely react, to the strangers coming to your house for the party. Work with your puppy and his unique personality to make the introductions smooth for everyone.
1. Keep your puppy on a leash when the guests are coming in. If you pick your puppy up and hold him, he may wriggle out of your arms—whether he’s excited or frightened—and could fall or run out the door. Ask your guests to ignore your puppy when they come in and let the puppy be the one to initiate the interaction. Don’t do the introductions at the door. If your guest acknowledges you first, the dog will see and sense that interaction and will know that stranger is not a threat to you or to him.
2. Once the guest is inside, let the puppy closer to sniff the guest. Ask the guest to let the puppy sniff him. If you know your puppy will take a treat nicely from your guest’s hand let them feed the puppy a small treat if he greets them calmly. If your puppy looks or acts scared, remove him from the introduction until he is less frightened. A scared puppy is one who may bite because he’s fearful.
3. If your puppy has been trained to sit or stay, use those commands when your guests come into the house. If, once the guests have all arrived, you see that your dog is comfortable and happy, you can let him off the leash. You will need to pay attention to your puppy to see if she’s getting tired or uncomfortable or scared in the midst of all of the people; if that happens remove her from the situation by putting her in another room or in her crate or simply keeping her close to you or to another family member with whom she is comfortable.
Editor’s Note: Teaching your puppy to learn basic commands can be a daunting task. To begin, here are five basic puppy commands and tips.
Keep An Eye Out For These Puppy Behaviors
Are you ready for a puppy truth? Some puppies are rude, and they like to jump on guests. And if you have a puppy who will grow into a big dog, you don’t want to have him jumping on guests. Regardless of the size of your puppy, jumping should be discouraged.
Jumping. One sure-fire way to discourage a puppy from jumping is to ignore him. If a puppy jumps, turn your back and don’t make eye contact. This is a positive reinforcement method for this behavior. When your puppy stops jumping and sits or stands calmly next to you, praise her and offer her a treat. Your puppy will soon learn to connect the idea that if she jumps, she gets no attention; but if she stops jumping, she gets your attention and a treat.
Biting. Many puppies like to “mouth” or bite—it is the way in which they get accustomed to the world around them. Many mother dogs will train the biting out of the puppy, but since it is an instinctual behavior they will still bite. Warn your guests that your puppy may bite, and if he does, they need to ignore the behavior and offer the puppy an item that is meant for biting. Have toys on hand, so your guests can offer the puppy a toy to chew on. Your puppy will soon learn it is not okay to chew on hands or clothes, but it is okay to chew on his toys.
Begging. It takes a while to teach a puppy that begging for a piece of human food from the table is not welcomed behavior. Let your guests know that your puppy is not allowed to table scraps. You don’t want her begging from the table, and you want to keep her safe from ingesting rich human foods. Give your puppy something to distract him while you’re eating—fill a Kong with peanut butter and his favorite treats, or give him a food puzzle toy to entertain himself while you and your guests eat.
Keeping your puppy calm during the party
If you and your guests start getting boisterous (and you just might if you’re watching football), you need to pay attention to your puppy. Loud noises are very frightening to many puppies and, if you notice your puppy is looking afraid you need to remove her from the situation. What your puppy experiences during her young life can shape her personality for a lifetime. If she is afraid of loud noises when she’s young, she may remain afraid of loud noises as she ages.
Pay attention to the following body language in your pup:
- When your puppy is relaxed you can tell because they will probably be laying down and his entire posture will show how relaxed he is.
- If your pup wants to play you can tell that because he may jump around, toss his toy into the air or pose in front of you or your guests.
- A curious puppy will appear relaxed, but her ears may be pointed forward, she is looking around at everything that is going on. She may also be wagging her tail slightly.
- If your puppy is not calm and is afraid her head will be lowered, her ears will be back, and she may even be hunched over. Her eyes may be darting around.
- If she’s really frightened, she may growl and the hair between her shoulders may be raised. When a puppy is in this state, she’s trying to determine whether fight or flight is her best option. When you notice your puppy acting like this, remove her immediately and calm her down.
- In addition to being frightened your puppy may exhibit submissive behaviors. These include, rolling onto her back and exposing her belly. She may tuck her tail between her legs and flatten her ears. A submissive and scared puppy may stress-urinate. If your puppy exhibits this behavior, again, remove her from the situation and calm her down.
Puppies need to be socialized and inviting guests to your home is an ideal way to introduce him to new people in an environment in which she is usually comfortable. When puppies meet and interact with strangers at a young age, they are better adjusted to meeting strangers as they get older.
Just as we humans have different personalities: introvert, extrovert and ambivert (someone who is a mix of an introvert and an extrovert) our puppies are unique in their personalities. You may be sharing your life with a puppy who will enthusiastically greet your guests at the door, or your puppy may skitter away in fear. As the puppy parent, you need to monitor the situation, explain to your guests how to interact with your puppy and remove her if she appears afraid or stressed. Your puppy looks to you as her pack leader, to keep her safe.
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.
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