Dear Inquisitive Dog Guardians,

According to my calendar, the summer season has officially launched. This means warmer weather, parties and vacations! Wow, time flies when you’re working hard and having fun (like answering Dear Inquisitive Canine questions and barking at trucks — two of my favorite activities).

This month kicks off with the long Fourth of July weekend, including lots of partying and fireworks, so before I talk training and management tips for having company over, mom recommends we share a few gentle reminders to maintain a fun but safe environment for you and your own inquisitive canine.

Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

Independence Day can be very stressful (and dangerous) for many animals, not just us dogs. We encourage you to go through your safety checklist to help protect the furry friends in your life.

Inquisitive Canine’s Fourth of July Pet Safety Checklist

» Keep animals indoors or in an enclosed area (such as a barn for horses).

» Make sure your pet is wearing his or her ID with current info.

» Ensure that forbidden food items and flammable objects (including barbecues, grills and fireworks) are kept away and out of reach.

» Arrange for your pets to spend time with others if you’re unable to do so. Friends, family members or pet-sitters are excellent options.

» If you medicate your dog during fireworks season, make sure you have the meds handy and know how to administer them. Speak with your veterinarian about any reminders or if you need a refill.

Click here for more tips from mom for protecting your pets during this high-spirited holiday, or click here to check out tidbits from yours truly on precautions for pooches.

OK, now that we’ve covered the topic of safety, it’s time to share some tips for refining those canine social skills!

Year-Round Training Tips for a Well-Mannered Pooch

Summertime is the social season, as our schedules fill with outdoor parties, picnics and other outings. That means plenty of situations when you might need your pooch to mind his or her manners. But my certified professional dog trainer mom is a big believer in “Train it before you need it” to ensure that good behavior lasts year-round. Similar to schoolchildren practicing fire drills before there’s an actual fire, she recommends rehearsing behaviors you’re likely to need before you ask your dog to perform them.

I know when we have company, the following things may be asked of me:

» Greeting people (and other dogs) politely at the door: Sitting or standing is the preferred way humans would like to be greeted by us canines. They also prefer if we stay within our own property lines, meaning door-dashing is not on the approved list!

» Being able to chill out quietly in a specific location: Sometimes our guests want time to themselves, so when I’m asked to “sit” or “stay,” I do so where mom prefers. This includes near the front door, living room, in the kitchen area and/or outside in the yard or on the patio.

» Leaving things alone when asked: We doggies are scavengers and enjoy hunting and gathering as much as you humans, so if you leave food lying around, then it’s fair game!

» Coming when called — just in case someone isn’t familiar with your house rules or you get sidetracked and leave a door or gate open.

Manage, Manage, Manage!

If you’re really busy and don’t have the time to train your dog, or are caught up in the festivities, then I’d suggest you opt for plan B: management!

Manage your dog and/or his or her surroundings, whether at home or out and about. This means setting up barriers and boundaries to help create an environment in which your furry friend isn’t able to practice unwanted behaviors. (’Cause every time we practice, we get better at it!)

For example, if your dog hasn’t been taught to greet people and other dogs politely at the door, it might be best for you to either have your dog on a leash, or sequester him or her to another location while you escort friends and family inside. If you choose to sequester your dog, pick a place where he or she can hang out that is safe but still fun and rewarding. In other words, create a playground for your dog, not a dungeon.

To create an area of recreation while avoiding time-out situations, make sure your dog has enrichment — such as interactive food toys or chew bones, along with water — at his or her disposal. This way, your dog will actually look forward to hanging out in his or her “fun zone.” Once you have a break and everyone has settled in, then you’ll be more relaxed to bring your dog out to meet the guests.

For additional dog training tips about creating a rewarding environment for your dog, click here to read this previous post about enrichment for dogs.

We know that this time of year can be really fun for everyone, including the family pets. We appreciate and applaud you for taking the extra time to take care of your animals, including maintaining a safe and rewarding environment, and wish you a happy and safe holiday weekend!

— Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified professional dog trainer and human-canine relationship coach. Poncho is a 10-pound mutt that knows a lot about canine and human behavior. Their column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog. Joan is also the founder of The Inquisitive Canine, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, e-mail

Joan Hunter Mayer is a certified canine behavior consultant, certified professional dog trainer, and founder of The Inquisitive Canine. She and her team are devoted to offering humane, pawsitive, practical solutions that work for the challenges dogs and their humans face in everyday life. Joan offers training and behavior consulting services both in person and online, dedicated to strengthening the human-canine bond. If you are feeling inquisitive and have dog training questions, email and click here for more training tips. The opinions expressed are her own.