How to Fix Your Dog’s Bad Behavior Before the Holidays

Thanks Epiphany Glass for the Photo

I spent many, many years working in the veterinary field, and I think it would shock some of you to know just how many dogs are euthanized during the holiday season.

I think this phenomenon has a lot to do with my recent loathing of the season.  Having to deal with day after day of sick animals and euthanasia will wear on you.

So why do the holidays make a difference?

To me they don’t.  I love my dogs during all times of the year.

But for many people having a dog that is ill behaved results in euthanasia and/or overcrowding at the shelter!

And, YES you CAN make a difference in 2-3 days!


It is sad that a person’s lack of interest and motivation in dog training results in so many dog deaths!

How Do You Help The Dog in Only a Few Days?

So how can you help a dog, a dog with hardly any manners, to be a good companion and housemate when the holidays hit and people come to visit?

There Are A Few Simple Things That Will Help

I know you are busy but, with just a little bit of training and effort your dog will be better behaved when guest arrive if you work on doggy obedience a day or two before people arrive.

  • Put your dog on a leash in the house and run him through the basic obedience commands that he perhaps learned years ago.
  • Use great rewards!  I use liver treats that I make when I want a very highly motivated dog.
  • Get him reacquainted with his crate.  Some dogs will do better during the hustle and bustle if you can crate him in a separate area where you can cover his crate and turn on some loud music or the TV for him (this will keep him from barking and being stimulated when friends and family visit)
  • Thanks The Berry for the Photo

    Thanks The Berry for the Photo

    If you don’t want to crate him and you want him to hang out, but you don’t want him underfoot or jumping on your guests; use a tie down in the house.  I screw a large eyelet screw in the baseboard and a 4-6 foot leash to keep my dog in one area if his obedience isn’t up to par.  Then I give him is bed, and toys, and make sure that I can still keep an eye on him so that he is safe.

  • Put him on a leash before friends and family arrive.  No one likes to be jumped on, so I put my dogs on a leash for the initial meeting and I make them lie down.  After everyone is settled I can better trust my dogs to be off leash.
  • Exercise!  Take your dog for a long RUN an hour or so before your friends arrive.  Make sure he is exhausted!  The idea is to make sure the dog is too exhausted to jump on guests, or bark in his crate.  A tired dog is a good dog!
  • And, lastly REALX.  If your dog makes a mistake take it in stride and fix it.  Use his commands, a leash, or his crate if you need but make sure you have a back up plan so if something stressful happens you are prepared and not thrown off your game.

Afterwards.  And, after the party and festivities and everyone is stuffed, take your best furry friend on a walk and enjoy a break with perhaps the only friend who will lower your blood pressure!

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  1. Richard Parker says:

    Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and your family. I would like to thank you for the past year. This is the first time I have tried to train a dog, actually this is my first dog of my own. It is a slow process but Scout is a good girl and I couldn’t do without her at this point. Thank you again you rock Mr. Womack. Thank you so much for your program.


  2. Judy Ismaili says:

    Thanks so much for this helpful tip, Chet. Like you, I love my dogs during all times of the year, and I want to enjoy the holidays with them.

    Happy holidays to your and yours.



  3. I really appreciate your tips–they always help.
    I did want to suggest another factor in behavior of dogs anytime but even more at the holiday. Perhaps it is more of a training tip for their owners than the dogs themselves.
    My dogs read my emotions toward others. I may act pleasant and happy around certain people, but if I’m feeling anxiety, anger, dislike, etc. internally it seems my dogs react in that manner toward the person. I realize it is a scent or manner I’m unaware of that is giving my dogs a signal. I find myself enjoying my holiday more when I make a conscious effort of internally making sure I’m not feeling negative and my dogs react better too.


  4. Riley says:

    This technic really has helped me when I have guests over. Like many other people I do really love my dogs, but they never yteat my guests right when they are over.

    Thank you and happy holidays!!,


  5. Pamela Kutscher says:

    Love the pictures! My thoughts are that anyone who would have a pet killed just because it was a problem during the holidays didn’t deserve that pet in the first place. So sad that it happens so often. I hope your post helps to make some happier situations.
    I enjoy your blog.
    Happy Holidays!


  6. Bud Wilson says:

    Hey Minette,
    You are great writer I enjoy reading what you write. I don’t know how you can write so much. I have read what you wrote some much I think I know you. Dock diving looks like it would so much fun to do.

    Keep writing I will keep reading.
    Bud Wilson


  7. lynne says:

    Thanks a lot for all your helpful tips. I keep on trying what works for our american bulldog who has a selective hearing, we think he is deaf and finding it hard to teach him… thank you and happy christmas, keep writing, and i will keep on reading and applying.


  8. Kay says:

    Thanks for your tip will try for the big day I have a 7 month old puppy who definitely will have to be walked and tired out before guest’s arrive, thanks for your post’s


  9. mary says:

    I have a 5 month old GSD why does she always grab your hand and bite when you put on her lead ?

    she is a very light lead all day for control I live with my mom who is 84 that way I have more control is that a problem?

    we just finished training she did very well

    on walks very well

    what can I do about this mouthing and biting?


    Minette Reply:

    I would have a pet supply store fit a gentle leader to give you more control


    mary Reply:

    thank you


  10. Fiona Manser says:

    Merry Christmas!
    My overfriendly (nibbly when licking!) dogs had a great rest Christmas day, and had a few tame interactions with guests.
    Thanks for your brilliant suggestions.
    My dog-crazy niece will be bugging my sister and brother-in-law all year for her dream pet next year!!
    Look forward to your new ideas – and refreshing established ones – in the New Year…Happy New Year!
    warm regards,


  11. Cheryl Giles says:

    Those are some very helpful ideas, as my dog is especially not used to a one-year old being in the house. My question is: How do I motivate my dog to stop trying to get the attention of my guests. I’ve got her so that she rarely jumps but she continuously bumps and nudges guests. (Other than that, she’s a great dog.) She is a Sheepadoodle so some of that comes naturally, but she doesn’t do this with me. My husband allows it with him, but I don’t know know to stop her with guests. She wants to be near people so crating works for a while but when I have overnight guests this is not a permanent solution. Help. Everyone just wants their personal space back.


  12. Olga says:

    I just brushed my dog which I do a lot and he tolerates it well but today he beared his teeth at me and since he has already bitten me which required 7 stitches I am afraid he will bite again


    Minette Reply:

    Talk to your vet, find a groomer, and use a muzzle


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