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The most important commands to teach dogs for the holidays.

The most important commands to teach dogs for the holidays.

Manners are important during the holidays – and that goes for both people and dogs. With a house full of people, things can start to feel a little chaotic, which can make your dog feel stressed. And if your dog’s not behaving, it can make guests feel uneasy, too. Maintain some order and keep the celebration focused on fun by giving your dog the tools he needs to be a polite pup.

These commands will help everyone, canine and human, coexist happily and safely during the holidays, but they’ll come in handy for a long time in the future if you get them down to a science.

Leave it

If Fido’s eyeing a bone that’s fallen on the floor, or sniffing a little too close to the main course, you want to be able to tell him to leave it alone and head the other way. This command can prevent safety problems as much as it can keep your pet from being a surprise taste-tester. Cooked bones, particularly poultry bones, can splinter when chewed, and become lodged in a dog’s throat or digestive tract. This command can also help stop him in his tracks if he might chew on a poisonous plant, like a poinsettia, or other dangerous items.


As much as you adore your dog, there’s probably going to be someone coming to your gathering that isn’t such a big fan. It’s important to make your guests feel comfortable, and they’ll certainly be more at ease without a dog jumping up to greet them. If your dog knows “down” as the command to lie down, you don’t want to confuse him by saying the same word as a command to stop him jumping on guests. To make the command more effective, choose a different word – “off” is short, sweet and to-the-point. It’ll also help protect those nice clothes your guests are likely to wear.


A dog that’s underfoot can be a hazard to himself and to others. His paws could get stepped on, and he might cause you or your guests to trip, fall or spill. If he knows a command that is shorthand for “time to leave the room, buddy” it will be a way for you to get the message across without having to stop what you’re doing. “Bed” is a quick word that gives him a comfortable place to go to – his comfy, cozy bed – in another room so that he can be safely out of the way, without having to be confined to a crate for hours on end.

When your dog is a part of your family, it’s a given that he’ll be a part of your holiday celebrations, but with a few commands, you can make the events of the season a little merrier.