Any time you have guests over to your house, whether it is a small intimate gathering, or a large party, your dog’s daily life will be interrupted. Even the most gentle, happy-go-lucky dog can be thrown off by having new people enter their home – their domain. With practice, training and some techniques you can make your dog more comfortable when you have gatherings in your home and find ways to have a successful party without worrying about your dog the entire time.
Training your dog and preparing them for having guests in your home begins (hopefully) long before any guests actually arrive. It may be best to start small and only have 1 or a few people over for the first experience and then slowly introduce your dog to having larger parties in your home. If you have trained your dog with basic commands such as sit, down, and stay you will be ahead of the game because your dog will respond to your cues. Next, it is important to know your dog and their unique personality. Depending on your dog’s background and history, they will have different responses to having guests in the home. If they are a rescue dog and had ever been abused or neglected, they may struggle with social settings. They may exhibit their struggle in either fear or aggression which is why it is important to know your dog and what they can handle. If they absolutely cannot handle groups, particularly ones where the people do not know your dog’s likes and dislikes, it may be best to crate them or give them a dedicated room in the home for the party. It is always a good idea to plan ahead and have some special treats, toys or other items to occupy your dog’s attention if they need a break from the social setting.
If you plan to allow your dog to roam freely during the party it is always a good idea to tell guests your dog’s likes and dislikes upon arrival. For example: “Fido likes being pet on his back but does not like being pet on his head.” Or, “Fido will walk around and be a part of the party but does not particularly like attention or eye contact.” Or, “Fido tends to grab for food so please keep food on high surfaces.” This will make everyone feel more comfortable with your dog’s boundaries and know how to safely interact with them while enjoying the party. To prepare your dog for the party, be certain to give your dog plenty of exercise and play time before the party with undivided attention so that they are not jealous and longing for your attention during the party. Once the party has begun, you can use your cues with your dog to signal to them how to behave. For example, if your dog jumps up on a guest you will be able to say “down” and your dog will know what to do and guests will not feel uncomfortable. With proper training, preparation, explanation and boundaries, you, your guests and your dog can enjoy your next party.