Hey Mighty Paw fam, Barbara here to share some tips on how to keep your dog from peeing and jumping on your Christmas tree this year!
Because let's face it, it may be a unique story to tell after the fact, but the moment it happens is anything but fun.
On the contrary, it can be downright dangerous depending on your Christmas tree setup, decorations and level of dog craziness!
We can probably also all agree that we'd rather not shame our dogs who DID knock over the Christmas tree but keep it from happening in the first place, right?!
Well, the good news is that it's entirely possible!
It just takes a little mental and physical elbow grease to figure out, understand and redirect the whys behind your pup's behavior.
How To Keep Your Dog From Peeing and Jumping On Your Christmas Tree
Before I'll dive into what you can actively do to keep your pup from acting up around your Christmas tree, let's look at the possible reasons why they may be tempted to pee or jump on it in the first place:
Confusion About A Real Tree Inside
Unlike artificial Christmas trees, real ones can be quite the distraction for dogs who are new to the concept of celebrating Christmas with their humans.
That's because the tree smells like the grand outdoors!
Pent Up Energy & Boredom
If your dog doesn't have an outlet for their energy, they're going to entertain themselves!
That usually results in behaviors that we as their humans don't appreciate...and can definitely include peeing or jumping on your Christmas tree if it's within reach.
Lack of Structure & Training
Dogs are like kids when it comes to this. They do well with some type of structure that directs them in their behavior.
This can be as subtle but effective as understanding that they're not allowed to chew on your furniture, rip up your bedding, blinds and curtains.
Not Enough Potty Breaks
Dogs can only hold it for so long, so if they don't get to go potty on a regular basis, they'll have accidents inside.
Pair that scenario with a (live) tree inside your home, and your pup's likely to take you up on your "offer" of relieving themselves ON it (males) or NEXT to it (females)!
Don't Set Your Dog Up For Failure
Also, let me point out two big NoNo's that are bound to get your pup into trouble:
1. Edibles on the tree
Sugary edibles like cookies, candy canes, gingerbread or similar sweets will get your dog's attention sooner or later, regardless of how picky of an eater they may be.
If your dog eats enough of them, you may have to take them in for an expensive vet visit because of poisoning symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy or unconsciousness.
That's why I don't recommend decorating your tree with those temptations but sticking with non-edible ones instead.
2. Real candles
Yes, real candles are oh-so-charming and just pretty to look at, but even with constant supervision on your part there may be a moment when your pup decides to investigate a bit too closely.
Best case scenario: They'll lose some whiskers or get minor burns.
Worst case scenario: The tree starts to burn down, followed by the rest of your home.
Involve Your Dog In Getting The Real Tree & Setting It Up
If you're getting a real tree, take your pup along if at all possible.
Let them sniff around, watch you cut the tree down and load it up.
Once you're back home and ready to set it up, let them "participate" too. Even if it's from within their crate, playpen or behind a gate .
That's going to offer them an "explanation" as to how the r(eal) tree ended up in your living room all of a sudden!
That way your pup's going to interpret the decorating with something good happening, i.e. chewing or licking on a scrumptious snack.
If your pup's not crazy about food, treats or snacks in general, offer them a toy to entertain themselves with.
Regardless of whether you're setting up a real tree or an artificial one, if your dog is under-exercised there's a good chance they'll take their frustration and energy out on your tree (and other areas of your home).
So to set your dog up for success, offer them plenty of daily outlets for their physical energy.
This can be daily walks or hikes, runs, swims, bike rides, agility sessions, frisbee or ball time, etc.
*featured below is our Mighty Paw Hands-Free Bungee Leash 2.0*
Of course the exact amount and type of exercise depends on your pup. For example, your Bulldog may do fine with walks around the neighborhood, but your fetch crazy Labrador will need some more intense runs and play sessions.
Besides physical exercise, mental workouts are just as important, which brings us to the next section.
When we give dogs structure and practice obedience and trick training with them regularly, we ask them to think.
That's a very powerful mental workout!
It's actually a lot more energy draining for dogs as it may seem when you first think about it, so I challenge you to try it out with your pup!
Structure is anything you repeatedly ask of your dog. For example, to go to their designated place and stay there when the doorbell rings or when you're getting ready to eat. Their place can be a blanket on the floor, a bed or a crate.
It can also be a variety of different surfaces that you point to while saying place. That's what my dog Wally knows. At home, his place is his doggie bed in the living room/dining room area. I point to it while saying place whenever we get ready to eat any meals. He stays there until I (or his Daddy) release him from it.
When we go to visit family or friends, I take a blanket along that I put on the floor and point to while saying place. The rules are the same there: he stays on it while we eat or when he needs to not be in the way.
Another example is for your dog to wait for your OK to eat their meals instead of knocking you over while they race to their bowls. I personally have Wally wait on his doggie bed-place while I prep his meals (I'm a raw feeder). Then I say OK and he knows that as his sign to come into the kitchen and eat his food.
As you start practicing this type of structure with your dog, you'll start noticing subtle changes in their behavior. They're going to be less rambunctious and more respectful of you and their environment, and they'll actually start looking at you for directions!
Trick training sessions also ask your dog to pay attention to you and to figure out what it is that you ask them to do. Since dogs are naturally curious and eager to please their humans, this actually works in our favor!
You don't need to spend countless hours training either. A few 5-10 minute daily training sessions are all you need.
Tip: Practice this - Call their name and when they come to see you, reward them with a treat or a favorite toy such as a (squeaky) ball.
Our Treat Pouch 2.0 holds 2 cups of treats, food or a ball! You can either wear it on a belt around your waist, clip it to your pants or wear it across your body or over your shoulder like a purse. It's a great way to practice the recall inside - especially when your pup is getting too close to your Christmas tree!
In the meantime, supervision around your Christmas tree is critical!
When you can't supervise, keep your pup crated or gated off away from the tree. If your tree is set up in a room with a door on it, close it to keep your pup out.
Frequent Potty Breaks
Last but certainly not least, your dog needs to have multiple potty breaks throughout the day.
With frequent access to the outdoors to relieve themselves, they'll be MUCH less tempted to pee on your pretty Christmas tree!
Healthy adult dogs are generally able to hold it for 4-5 hours at a time.
Puppies, sick dogs, incontinent senior dogs as well as toy breeds won't be able to hold it as long.
To help your pup develop a potty routine when you're home with them, we invite you to check out our dog potty bells.
In both scenarios, your dog learns to ring the bell by pawing at it or nudging it with their nose. That's your cue to let them outside to potty!
OK, Let's Recap!
In order to keep your dog from peeing and jumping on your Christmas tree, it's really important not to set them up for failure.
That means a few things:
- Don't decorate your tree with (sugary) edibles
- Opt for electric lights instead of real candles
- Offer your pup frequent potty breaks
- Let your dog participate in the process of getting the tree, setting it up and decorating it
- Give your dog the appropriate amount of daily physical exercise
- Challenge your dog mentally by providing structure and frequent training sessions
- Crate or gate your dog away from the tree when you can't supervise
I hope that you found some value in my tips and that you'll be able to enjoy this Christmas season with your pup...ideally without them peeing or jumping on your Christmas tree!!
Barbara Rivers writes regularly for Mighty Paw. She is a blogger, raw feeder, former dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.
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