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The holiday season is upon us and with it, a constant flurry of excitement and activity in addition to celebrations that draw visitors to the home, for Christmas and Hanukkah. For the four-legged members of our family, the excitement can come with some stress as routines are abandoned and new people and smells are everywhere. So here are some quick tips on how to prepare your dog for the crazy holiday season—from the trainers at AKC’s GoodDog! Helpline:

1. Make sure to include exercise time for your dog. Without the proper amount of exercise, dogs will feel the need to release pent-up energy in ways you might not like. Mental exercise can help tire your dog, so try incorporating toys and games that make your dog think.

Check out these 11 ways to break a sweat with your dog.

2. Know your dog. Does your dog have the proper good manners needed to be part of the party without causing trouble? Does your dog really enjoy going to new places or meeting new people? If not, consider leaving him at home if you will be visiting, or keeping him in a quiet room if you are hosting. Sometimes a cozy bed and a good chew toy will be more enjoyable for your dog.

3. Training basic obedience commands, such as “sit,” “down,” and “stay,” will go a long way in ensuring you, your guests, and your dog will enjoy each other’s company. Training the basics should always be done in short, fun sessions, so your dog will look forward to this time he gets to spend with you.

4. Also teach “go to your place.” Couple this command with a long-lasting bone or favorite chew toy, and your dog will be able to stay near you and your guests while lying safely on his bed or mat, not underfoot.

5. Don’t forget to puppy proof, even if you have an older dog. Some holiday plants and ornaments can be dangerous if chewed or swallowed. Train your dog to “leave it” to quickly turn his attention away from the item you prefer he not have. “Leave it” also comes in handy if your dog begins to pester a person or other family pet.

The AKC GoodDog! Helpline wishes you a wonderful holiday season with your family, friends, and your dog. For individualized training help, questions about your dog’s behavior, or fun ideas for games to play with your dog, just enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline and give our trainers a call.

And for more holiday help, check out our gift guides for big dogs, small dogs, active dogs, and mellow dogs!
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