Holidays!

I bet you have presents, complete with wrapping paper and ribbon sitting somewhere around your house right this minute! And if you have a dog, your dog probably thinks those presents are pretty fun toys!

There’s a trick to keeping a dog from going after presents (or food or counters or trash or anything else, really). First off, don’t go showing things to your dog. That makes them interesting! Don’t wander around cooing over those fancy packages, if you can avoid it. Don’t point them out to your pup and then firmly tell him to leave them alone; all your dog knows is that you drew his attention to them, so they must be important!

But most importantly, when you see your dog LOOKING at those things, make a noise that will startle them (clapping, a hissst noise, slapping a newspaper against your thigh, etc) and when they jump away, call them away and praise them for leaving.

Note that I said to do it when your dog looks at the packages. If your dog gets used to ignoring them completely, then when you leave they might visually check it out, but they won’t tear into things. If you let them look, then when you leave they’ll still take it one step farther: tearing into things! You always want to correct for better behavior than you really care about, so that when push comes to shove and the line gets blurred, it doesn’t get blurred very far, and your dog walks away still well behaved!

Meantime, have fun opening presents!

J

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