That feeling when you need a vacation from your vacation. 😴
We had a guest over for Thanksgiving this year, which is hard for a people-reactive dog! We did our best to set Poppy up for success by:
1️⃣giving her lots of breaks. When we noticed Poppy’s reactions amping up again after a couple of hours of being relatively chill, we knew it was time for her to have a break. Spending some time in our bedroom or her crate gave her a chance to decompress some and recharge.
2️⃣trying to make interactions with the new person very rewarding. When guests show up Poppy gets her absolute highest value treats. She basically gets fresh chicken rained down on her anytime she even looks at a new person. Eventually, once a certain level of comfort is achieved (basically once she stopped barking at her every move) we work up to games like hide and seek with the guest, so Poppy finds value in their presence.
3️⃣ providing lots of calming activities for her to do in the presence of the new person. Lickimats, Frozen Kongs, bully sticks, and puzzle feeders are great for this. Licking, chewing, sniffing, and foraging (and eating) are natural behaviors dogs find enjoyable, and relaxing, so balancing a stressful event with those activities tends to help calm dogs down.
4️⃣Avoiding triggers whenever possible. We kept Poppy in a different room when things like moving luggage in and out was happening, because all of that commotion would’ve been too much. Management is sometimes what you need to do and that’s totally fine!
It wasn’t perfect, and this visit did highlight some areas we definitely need to work on, but we did see improvement with her interactions over the holiday. We have some time before the next round of people comes for Christmas, so we’ll be working hard until then!🎄