Going to Your Relatives with Fluffy

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and some of us have found a way to get a free dinner at the relatives'.  Of course, we will bring Fluffy along too.  It is always fun at Uncle Al's, I am sure that Fluffy thinks so too!  Really?

Remember, Fluffy is a dog.  Things that stimulate and entertain Fluffy are not necessarily the same things that stimulate and entertain us.  Things that give Fluffy a sence of safety and security while we are away from our house can be very different than how we percieve safety and security.  So, what does Fluffy really think of Uncle Al's house (full of strange people and possibly other dogs)?

First, let's think of what we are walking Fluffy into.  Here is a new house "strange territory" filled with all sorts of unfamiliar people, smells, sounds, and other dogs.  We normally think "Oh, let's put all the dogs in the back where they can play".  Several things have just occurred here. 
  • First, we have abandoned Fluffy in a strange area with other dogs of divergent personality types.
  • Since we have established ourselves as the Alpha in our pack, it is our job to keep Fluffy safe by being in his sight or in his sight on a regular basis.  This isn't happening (we are inside with Uncle Al checking out his new High Definition 52" TV)!
  • Dogs always attract kids.  Now the kids are out with the other dogs and Fluffy.  They might be pulling his tail, chasing him, screaming, and all the other wonderful things that little kids like to do with dogs.  This puts him in a very stressful situation!
Bottom line:  Fluffy is not having a good time at Uncle Al's.  So what can we do?
  • First of all, we need to transition being with Fluffy and not being with Fluffy.  Stay outside with him for ten to fifteen minutes playing with him and the other dogs.  Observe which dogs might be aggressive towards Fluffy and how he reacts to their body language.
  • Check on Fluffy regularly.  "Hey Guy, how are you doing?"  This goes a long way in allowing Fluffy to understand that even though you aren't right there, you are always close at hand.  This goes a long way in his understanding that he is safe because you are always there (although sometimes night in direct sight).
  • Every once in a while, bring Fluffy inside (on a leash) to see the rest of the party.  This assures that he has not been ostrisized to the outside and is still a part of the "party".  It helps to build his self importance while keeping focus on you as the leader providing his safety.
  • Be sure that you are providing him with the water and food he needs.
  • If the kids start to go outside to play with the dogs, think of going out to supervise.  Kids can do things that cause dogs to "nip" and many parents call a "nip" a "bite".  We don't need this to happen.
  • When you are leaving Uncle Al's (stomach full of free food), praise Fluffy for doing such a great job.
If you follow these steps, you might even be asked back to Uncle Al's next time for more free food! 

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

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