Christmas Decorations and Puppies Can Make for a Frightful Tangle

Published in The Chronicle
By Bob Riemann

Not only can the dog chew electric wires, but also steal snacks set on a coffee table or jump on your guests. Worst of all, the puppy could run out the door while guests are arriving and your attention is else ware.

“Lots of dogs are hurt during the holidays because they run out unexpectedly,” warns Linda Stein, president of Stein-Way Dog Training in Goshen. “We train dogs to never leave a doorway without permission.”

Linda has some helpful training hints so that your dog can be a joy, not a terror, at your holiday parties.

“One good idea is to only give your puppy dog toys to play with,” Linda said. “Letting them play with other objects, like plastic soda bottles, can cause problems. Later, they find their “toy” in the garbage. That’s a dangerous message.”

She has other tips too, like putting a piece of evergreen on the floor before you bring in the tree so that the dog learns to ignore it before the highly decorated tree appears..

“But most important is to teach them manners in and out of the house for a lifetime of stress free companionship,” Linda said.

Many people try to train dogs by just using rewards for good behavior. “Rewards are essential but certain dogs need a penalty for bad behavior, too.” Linda recommends using a collar for correcting because the mother dog corrects her puppies by grabbing them by the neck. “You are speaking the language of the mother dog. I teach owners to understand how dogs think; I call it ‘Doglish’!”

At a recent one-on-one training session with Maggie, the five-month-old puppy of Peggy Crook of Highland Mills, Linda was teaching the dog to stay even when the owner left the room.

“When I came back, she was sitting right there in the same place,” Crook said.

Crook found out about Stein-Way Dog Training’s intense, one-day dog training program from a flier at her vets. She said she had taken her other dog to a group training session but she had to go to six sessions. By using Stein-Way she was able to fit the training into her busy holiday schedule.

“Dogs give us unconditional love,” Linda said. “But to really enjoy your pet it has to be trained. Kids are going to run around the house. People are going to leave food within the dog’s reach. The family and guests shouldn’t have to change their behavior. The dog can be taught how to resist temptations without spending six weeks doing so. They learn quickly in the wild and have excellent memory. By teaching the dog a set of manners using a quiet voice everyone can have a good time at the party.”

Complete the “Customized Training Form” or send an email ( to tell us what training you need to keep your dog safer and you calmer about him/her over the holidays. Or sign up for our “Telephone Consultation Program” .


  • Teach dog to accept enthusiastic holiday greetings without jumping. They can express joy without jumping.
  • Stein-Way can help you teach your dog wear costumes like reindeer antlers, Santa Clause caps or other kinds of fun outfits (see Halloween Costume Contest)
  • Dogs can be taught to lay nicely away from the dining table or coffee tables. If you want to give special holiday treats, keep them to a reasonable amount and put them in the dog dish after the meal.