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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Doggie Sleepovers: How to Create the Environment for a Peaceful Visit

by Carrie Boyko, CEB
© courtesy K. Nolan
Hank and Daisy, BFFs
So company's coming and bringing along Fido. What fun it will be for your dogs and theirs to play together, right? Well, maybe--but not always. Today's post is all about what you can do to bring about the right atmosphere for a pleasant visit.  Think about your leadership style and your visitor's. Now consider that the rules in their home may be different from what you expect of your own dogs. Add dinnertime fun to this and you've got a recipe for a disaster.

© courtesy M. Watson
Juliet and Rocko
The good news is it doesn't have to be this way. What can you do to prevent problems during an overnight visit? Here's a few tips to help you bring in the new guest pack members with a good attitude:

  • Take proactive action by assuring your dogs get plenty of exercise for several days before your visitors arrive. Go overboard a little to make sure you've got some pooped pups, and this will dull their excitement about visitors a good bit. Be sure to add in an extra-long dose of mental and physical activity shortly before your guests are due to arrive, just to be sure.
  • When your guests arrive, take their crates and beds inside, choosing a safe place for each to sleep, separately from your own dogs, if they are not all crate sleepers. Trust me; the middle of the night is no time to have a tussle break out among these new friends to be. Separate sleeping quarters is imperative. If necessary, consider picking up a baby gate or two to assist with the separation. Allow your pups to sniff their digs while you go outside and take on the next step in this process.
  • Before introducing your pups to their temporary housemates, offer to take your Fido company on a brisk walk for a good half hour, assuming they are healthy enough for physical activity. Your human guests may be glad to join you after a long ride in the car, train or plane. Take advantage of this to be sure your own dogs will get to meet some tired, 'ready for a snooze' visitors, after your tour of the neighborhood.
  • Upon your arrival at home, ask your guests to remain outside while you leash up and bring out one of your dogs at a time for an introduction. Allow the dogs to greet in the mannerly way that dogs must--a good sniff. The result? Your guests will quickly learn that this house belongs to you and their newest canine acquaintance. 
  • If these introductions do not go well, this will be your cue to be extra cautious about leaving the offenders together unsupervised. You and your guest may want to try walking the dogs together, as an exercise in 'pack-building'. This is often helpful in assisting two dogs to accept one another. Just keep in mind, you are to be in charge of the walk and Fido does not lead the way.
  • After following suit with each of your dogs, if there have been no incidents of concern, lead the way into the house: you first, your dogs second, your guest third, and your guests' dogs last. This will send an additional message to the visiting pups that they are last in the pecking order. 
  • That's not to say that you should allow any protectiveness from your own dogs. Correct any behavior that even begins to resemble possessiveness. One thing you must do to aid in this is to place ALL dog toys out of reach. Now is not the time to have your dogs playing keep away with their toys.
  • Take all the dogs to the area you have chosen for their playspace. Got a fenced back yard--great! They'll still need a good bit of supervision, so be sure not to check out on this duty. Enjoy a glass of fresh brewed iced tea or  organic lemonade while you catch up with your guest and keep an eye on the new Fido friends.
  • In the absence of a back yard play area, choose an inside playspace where the least damage can be caused, in case any disagreements result in their time getting acquainted. The scents of your home will set the stage for you and your dogs as the primary pack family. You'll need to keep up that leadership role by maintaining a take-charge attitude that allows no one else to call the shots, especially not any of the dogs.
  • Take a few minutes to specify your house rules, pertaining to the dogs, to your guest, and ask diplomatically for her cooperation in enforcing these, so that your dogs may stay on track with their own training. Given her agreed participation, you should feel free to be the leader of her dogs as well as your own. If a correction is needed, don't put it off. The offending dog needs to clearly understand what behavior was not acceptable.
  • On the flip side, when the dogs are behaving calmly and giving you every indication that you are in charge, be sure to praise and offer affection. Even a small, healthy treat will help you signify your approval with clarity.
  • At mealtime, separate the dogs for feeding to assure there are no food aggression problems to ruin an otherwise nice visit. One incident of this could put a damper on the rest of the visit, whereas full tummies will have a calming effect.
  • Finally, keep up the rigorous daily exercise, adding in some mental games to keep their minds and bodies fatigued enough to assure no mischief making will get in the way of a peaceful daily existence. Even a visit to a local dog park could be a welcome change to the monotony of the same four walls each day. Imagine how bored you would be if you never left home, except to walk down the street? Offer the pups variety and they will give you a calmer demeanor, as well as the respect due a benevolent leader.
  • A mid-afternoon Busy Bone will keep the gang occupied when you and your visitors need of a break. A few recipes for these follow in the Related Reading section. 
© courtesy M. Watson
Rocko and Juliet
I enjoyed sharing these tips, but know that some of you have more. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section. We'd all like to learn from your wisdom too. Happy tails!

Related Reading:
Busy Bones and Other Boredom Busters
More Busy Bone Fillings
Mutt Meatball Busy Bone Filling (made from leftovers!)
Running a Smooth Multi-Dog Household

That's right! You've once again found yourself at the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop. This is a weekly event where all of us that enjoy sharing pet tips, photos and entertaining melodrama, come together to bring you our offerings. You get to jump in with your own blog post, OR simply hop around from site to site, enjoying the scenery. All Things Dog Blog has 2 posts in the Pet Blogger Hop this oversite on my part in setting up dates, but oh well, double the fun! Enjoy.

You'll meet new friends, find new blogs and generally have a good time. Be sure to stop in and thank our hosts, Confessions of the Plume, Life with Dogs, and Two Little Cavaliers. Without their efforts, this hop would not be hoppin! Happy tails!


Jess the Dog Shopper said...

What a great post! I'll try it the next time a new doggie comes to visit! I'm not sure there is any hope for Cassie and my mother's dog Tobey...they just don't mix, but at least we know that...Any advice for introducing a rambunctious Aussie to a sister-in-law who is scared of dogs??? I'm a little worried about that one right now.

Anonymous said...

Great information! We do some of this just to get people into the house for Opie -- other wise known as Mr. Territorial!


Just hopping by!

FiveSibesMom said...

Great post with some very informative tips! Thank you for sharing! Happy Blog Hop Saturday!

Peggy Frezon said...

Thanks! Kelly doesn't do well with other dogs, so your tips could help us both!

Lavinia said...

Thanks for the tips, those are interesting ideas to keep in mind. We visit my fiance's house sometimes and we take Aschiuta with us. One of the first priorities is to keep the dog separated from the 2 cats that live there.

After that, we need to make sure Aschiuta goes out as often as she needs to. Our host won't mind a little accident on the carpets, but that shouldn't happen anyway.

Carrie, with Tanner and Oliver said...

When 'house training' a pup, you may wish to come prepared to deal with these little indiscretions. You'll be likely to be invited more often and your hostess will no doubt greatly appreciate your proper care of her carpet. Good luck!

Elizabeth said...

Thank you so much for all the great information! Have a marvelous Monday!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I really enjoy reading your blog. I have awarded you with the Stylish blogger Award. Stop by my blog to pick up the "award". All the best!

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