As the holiday season approaches, your home is likely to become a hub of activity with an influx of guests. Depending on your Brittany’s personality and habits, this can be a challenging time for both your beloved Brittany and your family. However, with some careful planning and simple training, you can ensure a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Training Your Brittany Before the Holidays: If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to start teaching your Brittany some basic manners and behaviors. Even if you’re short on time, you can incorporate short training sessions into your daily routine and see quick results. Integrate training into your everyday life, such as practicing “stays” while you cook in the kitchen or asking your Brittany for “sits” and “downs” while you relax on the couch watching TV. The more you make these behaviors a part of your daily routine, the more your Brittany will incorporate them into their regular habits. Some of the behaviors that can be particularly useful during the holidays include:
Sit/Stay – Teaching your Brittany to sit and stay is incredibly versatile. You can use it to prevent your Brittany from jumping on guests at the door, to have them sit calmly while people greet them, and to keep them in one place as you move around the house. Train your Brittany to sit and stay in areas where they might be tempted to jump, such as just inside and outside the front door, in and out of the car, near the kitchen, living room, or by the back door. Once your Brittany has mastered this, invite friends and neighbors over to practice, so they’ll be sitting like a pro when your guests arrive for holiday celebrations!
Go to Your Place – This command is perfect for Brittany dogs that are more exuberant or tend to bother guests at the dinner table or in the living room. Designate a specific spot for your Brittany, whether it’s a dog bed, mat, or crate (similar to what I do with my Brittanys). Bring your Brittany to this designated spot, and reward them for being there and lying down. Pair this behavior with a word like “place” or “crate.” As with the sit/stay, practice with friends and neighbors so your Brittany is comfortable with this behavior when guests arrive. To make it a positive experience, you can give your Brittany a special treat to enjoy while they’re in their designated spot, such as a food-stuffed toy or a chew stick.
Leave It – “Leave it” is an essential command during the holidays. You can use it if your Brittany tries to grab a tempting human treat from the dining room table or if they’re drawn to shiny holiday decorations, plants, or wrapped gifts. Once your Brittany has learned to leave food items alone, you can generalize this command to other objects, even from a distance. Another useful behavior to pair with “leave it” is “drop it,” which instructs your Brittany to release an item from their mouth, which can be handy if they’ve picked up something you want them to let go of.
Tricks – While it may not seem crucial, teaching your Brittany some fun tricks can be a great way to keep them engaged. If you have guests coming over who may be a bit wary of your Brittany, even if they are friendly, tricks can help “break the ice.” A Brittany appears less intimidating when they can perform tricks like shaking paws, high-fiving, spinning, rolling over, or other adorable tricks. If your guests include children, they will likely be delighted by these behaviors and may even want to join in and teach your Brittany some tricks themselves, creating a fun holiday activity (under adult supervision, of course!).
Managing Your Brittany During the Holidays: The second part of creating a harmonious holiday experience with your Brittany involves good management.
Keep Your Brittany Comfortable – If you know that your Brittany isn’t fond of guests, make sure you have a crate ready for them in a quiet spot, such as a bedroom with a closed door. Alternatively, provide a designated area where your Brittany can feel secure and avoid interacting with guests, such as a bedroom, laundry room, or another space closed off with a door or baby gate. Never force interactions between your Brittany and guests if your dog isn’t comfortable, as this can heighten their anxiety.
Provide Distractions – Prepare a variety of items to keep your Brittany entertained while you socialize with your guests. This can include food-stuffed toys or puzzles, bones, chews, chew sticks, and toys. Always give your Brittany these items in a safe place and supervise their interactions, especially if there are children visiting.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise – You can’t overemphasize the importance of exercise for your Brittany during the busy holiday season. As the saying goes, “A tired Brittany is a good Brittany.” The more physical exercise your Brittany receives, the less likely they’ll be overly excited when guests arrive. After greeting your guests, there’s a good chance your Brittany will be more than happy to curl up on their bed or in their crate and take a well-deserved nap.
By implementing these training and management strategies, you can help your Brittany and your guests have a joyful and stress-free holiday season together.
Source: Pet Health Network Blog