Your Dog Etiquette Guide: Help Your Dog Mind His Manners at Holiday Parties

Dog wearing Santa hat
Teaching a few simple tricks, like sit and shake, can help your dog to be on his best behavior with guests.

Hosting your favorite people for a holiday party this year? Be sure to include your dog in the fun — and help him to be on his best behavior during the festivities with these simple tips.

Practice Party Manners Ahead of Time

Does your Lab think he’s a lap dog? Or does your Pug paw, whine and bark for attention? If so, you will need to teach him some more acceptable ways to communicate — and you will need to do it before the party starts. Not all of your guests may welcome a giant lap dog or persistent pawing, especially if they are dressed up in their holiday best. (And some guests may be downright nervous around a demanding dog.)

There are several ways to help prevent unwanted gambits for attention. Teach your pooch to move onto furniture only when he is invited and to move away willingly when asked — or train him to keep all four paws on the floor all the time. You can also work with him on going to his bed or mat on command; this gives him a safe space to retreat to and gives guests a break from his attentions.

Teaching your dog to go to his spot can also help to deter begging and food stealing. Give your dog a food puzzle or long-lasting chew to keep him busy while he’s resting in his spot.

Disable the Doorbell

Front door greetings can be overwhelming for many dogs, especially when your attention is focused on the visitors and not on him. Even a typically calm, well-mannered dog may be frightened by repeated rings and may respond by barking or charging at the door.

One way to help your dog stay calm when guests arrive is to decrease triggers that get him all riled up. If he’s likely to go crazy at the sound of the doorbell, consider temporarily disabling or muting the doorbell. Another option is to hang a sign on the door inviting guests to let themselves in — no ring or knock needed (but this only works if you are confident your dog will not escape out the door).

You can also work with your dog on turning the doorbell into the cue to do a desired behavior, like go to his mat or sit and stay. This requires some advance planning, though, and plenty of practice pre-party. And you’ll need to have plenty of treats on hand when guests start to arrive to reward your dog for his good manners.

If you’re concerned that your dog will dash out an open door and just keep running, consider keeping him in a dog-safe space until all of your guests have arrived.


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!