The food has been prepared, the decorations have been hung and your Christmas dress is ready, but is there something you’re missing? Forgetting to teach Fido his party manners can turn any well behaved dog into a jumping, food stealing barking monster. So how do you fit dog training into your already busy schedule of shopping, cooking and decorating? You don’t have to.

Below are three different plans that require little or no training, just pick a plan and execute. 

Plan 1

Keep Fido on leash before guests arrive so that you can prevent him from jumping on people.

  • Ask Fido to sit when guests arrive and reward him for sitting
  • If Fido is too excited to sit, reward him for keeping all four paws on the floor. (If there are two paws on the floor then the other two paws are on a human, so drop food on the group when Fido has all four paws down).
  • Reward frequently so Fido does not have an opportunity to jump
  • Guests can give Fido a treat to help reinforce sitting or for keeping all four paws on the floor

Plan 2

Keep Fido behind a baby gate, in his crate or in another room when company arrives

  • Fido can’t jump on your guests or steal food if he can’t get to it
  • Let Fido out to mingle when he is calm and when your guests arrive
  • If you’re excited when you guests arrive, chances are Fido will get excited as well. It’s hard for Fido to be calm when there is so much excitement so putting him in his crate will prevent jumping
  • Removing a shy or fearful dog from all the action will help him feel comfortable – using a crate, ex-pen or gate is not punishment. It’s smart. Not every dog wants to be the center of attention

Plan 3

Give Fido something to do when guests arrive and/or during dinner

  • Giving Fido a stuffed Kong or Bully stick will keep him occupied when guests arrive
  • He can’t jump on Grandma if he is busy licking the yummy stuffing out of a Kong
  • Building a Kong addiction ahead of time will ensure he will enjoy his Kong enough to ignore the doorbell
  • Stuffing the Kong with cream cheese, mashed potatoes or a novel creamy food keep him stuck to his Kong like glue
  • Keep Fido busy longer by freezing the stuffed Kong (dog trainer favorite)

* Note:  Grapes, raisins and chocolate are dangerous for dogs. Contact your veterinarian for a complete list of list of toxic foods for dogs. 

Wonder what dog trainers do with their dogs?

My dog trainer friends usually combine plan 1 and plan 2. I keep frozen goodies in my freezer so I can quickly grab one and stuff them into the Kong when guest arrive.

Most important

Holidays are a great time to connect and visit with family and friends, Fido included. Be patient and keep in mind that your dog doesn’t know it’s rude to say hello by jumping on you and your guests. It’s your job to teach Fido what you want or manage his environment so he doesn’t learn a bad habit.

Sherry Nativo, CPDT-KA, KPA CTP is a certified profession dog trainer. She is the owner of All About Training Dogs in Orange County, CA. Visit for more information.