1. Run some practice sessions.
The sound of a doorbell or knocking can send many dogs in a tizzy, exacerbated by a dog’s instincts to guard his home from strangers. If your dog isn’t familiar with these sounds, do some practice sessions. Have a friend come over and ring or knock on the door.
Don’t immediately leap up and run for the door. Be calm and walk toward the door at a normal pace. Remember your dog senses your excitement so you want to remain controlled in your behavior.
Repeat this a couple times a day for several days prior to Thanksgiving or whatever day your company is arriving.
2. Keep him under your control.
Put him in the sit or stay or down (whichever command you’ve taught him) position as soon as you hear someone approaching your door. Don’t let him run to the door as soon as he hears a doorbell or knock. Don’t let him greet a visitor unless he is calm.
If your dog is not trained well enough yet to obey a sit or stay command, keep him on a leash while you greet company. You also may want to use a head halter if you’re not certain how dog will behave or if he’s meeting lots of guests at once for the first time.
3. Keep a water bottle handy.
If your dog goes into a tizzy or tries to leap on someone and is beyond hearing your “no” command, spray him in the face with the water. Almost every dog hates that but he won’t be harmed.
4. Train your guests.
If you dog starts to jump on a guest before you can get to him, tell the guest to turn their back and ignore the dog. Grab your dog and make him sit.
5. Don't reward bad behavior.
Ask guests not to reward your dog’s bad behavior. The most natural thing for a visitor to do is to say “good dog” to a dog that’s greeting them by jumping up. This is terrible! Ask your friends not to say anything to the dog; simply turn their backs until the dog stays on all four paws.
6. Restrain your dog.
If your dog isn’t used to much company or guests are bringing small children, put your dog in a room away from the guests until everyone has arrived and all the initial greetings are over. Don’t bring the dog out until the room is relatively calm.
There’s no reason Fido can’t enjoy the upcoming holiday season with you if you teach him how to be a good host.
Louise Louis is a certified canine specialist and creator of the popular website on small dogs, http://www.ToyBreeds.com