Find Time to Play With Your Dog During the Holidays

Posted in Training Tips

With the Holidays upon us and all the extra things taking up my time, I just don’t have as much time to spend with Wolfie.  Is this going to cause a problem or can I just make it up by getting him a bunch of great gifts?


First thing, you can’t bribe dogs like you can bribe your kids.  Just getting Wolfie a bunch of great gifts is not going to make up for the time you are neglecting him.  Dogs are social animals and need companionship to maintain the bond between you and him that is so critical in your relationship.

When you don’t give him the time needed to maintain your relationship, your dog will start to test you to see “what he can get away with”.  Let’s say that you have taught him that it is not OK to jump on people.  He will challenge you by taking a few “test jumps” to see what will happen.  If you are distracted with guests or out of town family members, you probably won’t react to his “breaking of your rules”.  You have now shown your dog that he can start to do whatever he wants.  You are not correcting, so why should he obey your rules?

When you leave Wolfie alone at home or in his crate for longer than normal, you are going to increase his need to play and get all of that pent up energy out.  Not being outside with him throwing the ball or going for a jog means that he will have to find another way to release all his “crazy”.  That normally means that he will be far more active in the house, demanding your attention and the attention of your guests.  Since you are already engaged in other activities, this normally means that he is going back in his crate or outside.

With no bonding and interaction, Wolfie will have to escalate his actions to, “in his mind”, continue the bond you had established.  This normally means that he will start stealing things, showing you that he has them, and then run like a crazy dog around the house as you chase and scream at him.  This only puts you in a bad light as his leader and care giver.  It builds up your dog’s canine perception that he better be the boss and take charge.

If you notice, I am not painting a very rosy picture.  If you simply ignore or minimize the play and bonding time between you and your dog during the holidays, you will have an unpleasant holiday and a crazy, internally focused dog for the New Year.  Let’s make sure that this doesn’t happen.

The answer is organization.  You must be organized enough to take the minimal free time you have during the holiday season and use it wisely.  Here are some simple steps:

  • Write down your schedule for the upcoming week.  Put in your work, shopping, family obligations, church, parties, etc.  Now, find 45 minutes every day (broken down in 15 and 30 minutes) that you will devote to your “best friend”.  If you have to take some time away from another event, so be it.
  • Make a promise to yourself and Wolfie that you will not miss those two times daily where it will be your bonding time.
  • Make sure that those times are for you and Wolfie!  Do not be throwing the ball while you are on the phone.
  • After each play time, make sure that Wolfie is still with the family.  Do not simply put him back in the crate and say “Adios”.

As your dog’s leader and care giver, it is your responsibility to maintain a constant bond so that he will respect and obey you.  When you break that bond and trust, you are minimizing your relationship with him.  I know that you are going to tell me “But I am so busy with this, I am so busy with that!”  My response to you is to ask yourself if “this and that” is more important than Wolfie who gives you unconditional love, is always there for you, always wants to please, and always makes you feel great when you are down. I think you know the answer.

If you have any questions, we will be happy to help.  Please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.