Help! My Dog is Afraid of our Christmas Guests!


Rex chills out in a covered crate with a bully stick.

You have holiday guests coming, but your dog is either going to be terrified and hide or bark his head off at them, trying to scare them away. What can you do to make the day stress-free for everyone? We have tips… and a GIVEAWAY!

Talk to Your Vet

If your dog has a serious fear problem, there are medications that can help, including daily pills or pills just for those tough days.

If you’re using a situational medication, be sure to “test drive” a dose on a normal day so you can monitor your dog’s reaction. Ask your vet about when you should administer the medication so it will be at its most effective when your guests arrive.

If the fear is only in very specific situations that you can avoid most of the time, medication is likely not necessary.

Build a Bunker

Your number one priority is to keep your dog feeling safe. If your dog enjoys being in his crate, you’ve already got this in the bag! You may consider tossing a sheet over the crate to eliminate visual stimulation. Rex in the photo above is all cozy in his bed in a covered crate while guests are on the other side of the house.

Does your dog hate crates? Check out these other ideas for bunkers from Eileen Anderson.

If your guests will be on the other side of the wall from your fearful dog, try a white noise machine near the crate or a radio tuned in to NPR.

Important: Guests should not enter the room where the dog has his bunker.

Prepare Ye The Kongs!

Stuff some Kongs the day before with all sorts of goodies: wet food, leftovers from your dinner, cheese, peanut butter, fat-free plain yogurt… then put them in the freezer so they will take even longer for your dog to unpack the day of the party.

Tire Your Dog Out Early

Break out the treat balls and puzzles for breakfast. If you have time, do a quick training session to work that doggy brain even harder. If your fearful dog can take walks in your neighborhood, take a nice long walk and let him sniff everything. (Sniffing gets those neurons firing!)

It’s Party Time!

Before your guests arrive, move your dog to his bunker and provide him with a Kong and/or bully stick to enjoy. During the party, check in on him from time to time, bringing a fresh Kong or a few treats to nibble.

If you have to take your dog outside for a break during the party, move your guests out of sight so you can slip out for a quick walk and back in to the bunker without your dog seeing the strangers.

You Can Do This…. and We Can Help

At Your Dog’s Friend, we understand how stressful it can be living with a fearful dog. We offer several classes that can help your dog build confidence. Here they are:

  • Agility Games / Nose Work 1:  These are good for the dog that gets just a little spooked at new things, but is otherwise fine with being around strangers.
  • Confidence Building: A good option for dogs that are a little spooked around strangers and/or new situations.
  • Fearful Dog Class: For dogs that would rather stay far away from strangers and/or anything new.

All classes are offered at our training center in Rockville, Maryland.

Giveaway for Local Friends!

YourDogsFriend.orgGo to our Facebook page to enter the giveaway for two wonderful books by trainer Debbie Jacobs, CPDT-KA, CAP.

These books are truly the gold standard in fearful dog rehabilitation and training.

The winner must pick up their books at our training center in Rockville, Maryland.