Ah, the most wonderful time of the year! A time when the ground is covered with fluffy white snow, the smell of gingerbread cookies baking in the oven fills the house, and every 5 minutes you have to chase the dog away from the Christmas tree.
A Christmas tree is an attractive nuisance for your dog, and it can be a real challenge to keep them from damaging it or injuring themselves. Some dogs are content with a quick sniff, but others will dig under the tree, attempt to remove the more toy-shaped ornaments, or even—Santa forbid—do their business under the tree.
In this article, we’re going to detail five ways to keep your dog away from the Christmas tree. If your dog is especially interested in the tree, it won’t be easy, but we’re here to help. Before you know it, your dog will be on its best behavior, and your tree will be standing tall and undisturbed.
The 5 Methods on How to Keep Dogs Away From Christmas Trees
1. Train Your Dog
The best way to deal with an overly tree-focused dog is to train them to ignore the tree. It’s easier said than done, but training them is the only long-term solution that will stick. Here’s how to do it.
Positive reinforcement is the root of all successful dog training, and we’ll use it here to distract your dog from the Christmas tree. The goal is for your dog to associate ignoring the tree with a positive experience so they won’t be compelled to investigate the tree in the future.
Start by watching your dog carefully. When they approach the tree—which won’t take long if they’re especially naughty—say a trigger word like “away” or “leave it” and toss a treat on the floor away from the tree. When your dog goes for the treat, distract them by taking them outside to play or diverting their attention with a favorite toy.
Continue this process whenever your dog makes a move for the tree. After several days, start saying your trigger word without throwing a treat on the floor. When your dog moves away from the tree, give them a treat from your hand.
Over the next several days, reduce the number of treats you give them and replace them with other positive experiences like toys, pets, and playtime. Eventually, you won’t have to give your dog any treats, and you’ll be able to stop them from attacking the tree with your trigger word.
2. Wall off the Tree
Even if you train your dog to avoid the tree, they might still get a little too close for comfort during the early stages of the process. An easy way to keep your tree and your dog safe is to blockade the base of the tree. A simple gate is usually good enough since you’re trying to dissuade your dog from getting too close, not prevent an all-out attack.
If your dog is a jumper or a climber, this won’t be the best method, but for smaller dogs or dogs that are only mildly interested in the tree, it can work well.
3. Deterrent Spray
Another option if you don’t want to build the Great Wall of Christmas is to use deterrent spray. Many companies make sprays that are safe for your dog, but they smell and taste bad. Usually, these sprays are used to prevent dogs from licking themselves or chewing on dangerous objects like wires. Spraying a little bit on the base of your tree and the low-hanging branches can stop all but the most persistent dogs from rooting around under the tree.
4. Get a Christmas Tree For Dogs
The lowest effort and most foolproof way to make sure your dog isn’t entranced by the Christmas tree is to buy an artificial one instead. Real trees are full of enticing smells that will attract your pup’s attention. Fake trees smell like plastic and are no more interesting to your dog than a coat rack.
5. Take Safety Precautions
We admit, this tip isn’t technically a way to prevent your dog from accessing the Christmas tree, but taking some simple precautions goes a long way to put your mind at ease. With a few straightforward precautions, you can bolster the safety of your dog and your tree.
Anchoring your tree is a good idea, even if you use a sturdy tree stand. A fishing line is a great option, but any rope or twine will work. Wrap the line around the tree’s trunk and anchor the ends to a sturdy object. You might have to use a picture hanging anchor if there are no sturdy objects to attach the rope to. Door hinges are an excellent anchor point but won’t work unless your tree is near a door.
Another safety precaution that can help keep your dog away from the tree indirectly is to keep ornaments away from the bottom branches. Some Christmas ornaments look suspiciously like dog toys to your furry friend and might entice them to explore the tree. Keeping ornaments well out of reach can be enough to make your tree boring to your pooch.
One final step you can take is to add a bit of weight to the base of your tree. Again, this doesn’t keep your dog away from the tree, but it does make it less likely for a disaster to strike if they get into trouble while you’re not around. Even with a solid stand and anchor lines, a larger dog could easily jostle the tree enough to cause a lumberjack-esque timber fall. Weighing down the base with household items is further protection against any deforestation attempts your dog might try.
Christmastime is stressful enough with all the shopping and traveling; you don’t want to have to worry about whether or not your tree and dog will get along. Training your dog to stay away from the tree is the best option, but some other layers of protection can help keep your tree standing and your dog safe until they learn to be on their best behavior.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful! With a little patience and a few simple precautions, your dog will be well on their way to getting back on Santa’s nice list and getting a new bone to chew in their stocking.
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