How to Dog-Proof Your Christmas Decor

By Sarah Hinds Friedl on December 20th, 2023

Whether you’ve had your Christmas tree up since the day after Halloween or are putting up the decorations now, your dog might be doing their best to destroy your holiday spirit! We have a few solutions for even the Grinchiest of doggos so that your holiday decorations stay safe until the New Year. 

Why do some dogs hate Christmas?
If your dog can’t keep their chompers off your decorations, you might be wondering why they are out to destroy the holiday spirit. Do they hate Christmas? No! Let’s take a look at the situation from your dog’s perspective: 

  • Christmas decorations look like their favorite toys. From ornaments that look like shiny tennis balls to stuffed elves to flashing lights, many of our holiday decorations look like something you would find in the toy section at the pet store. And that Christmas tree that you brought home? Well, to your dog, it looks, smells, and feels suspiciously like all of those sticks that you play with on your daily walks. So, it’s no surprise that they might want to sneak a nibble now that you’ve brought home a whole tree!
  • With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, your dog might be getting less exercise. This is the busiest time of year, which means that you might be shortening your dog’s play time or just not giving them as much attention as they’re used to. This is understandable, just as it’s understandable that your dog might look for other outlets for their energy.
  • They’re just as excited about the holidays as you are. During this time of year, all of our emotions tend to be turned up a notch, whether we’re stressfully cleaning the house for the holiday party or joyfully playing a white elephant gift exchange. And because our dogs are so sensitive to changes in our emotions, they may deal with the overstimulation by finding the nearest “chew toy.”

The first thing we can do to prevent our dogs from continuing to wreak havoc on our decorations is have some empathy for why they might be doing it. Now, let’s talk about how to stop the Bah-humbug behavior before it gets any worse.

What can you do to prevent your dog from destroying the Christmas tree?
The sooner you can follow these steps before Christmas, the better! It will give your dog more time to adapt and make good choices before the holiday spirit really ramps up!

Step One: Put up a baby gate
From now on, you’ll want to control your dog’s access to the tree until you know they can be trusted. So, put up some kind of barrier or keep them out of the room where the tree is until you can do some training.

Step Two: Doggify your Christmas area
Set your doggo up for success by making your decorations less enticing. Wrapped gifts, for instance, can be kept on a higher shelf and then brought down for unwrapping on Christmas morning. Shiny, blinking, or food-based decorations like popcorn garlands can be hung above your pup’s eyesight.

Step Three: Teach them that the tree is off-limits
Your next step will be to proactively teach your dog not to engage with the Christmas tree. To do this, gather up some of their favorite treats and toys and bring them over to the area where the tree is. When your dog approaches the tree, offer them a “leave it” command and offer them a treat or toy to lure them away from the tree. Timing here is important! You want to catch them before they actually start munching on those ornaments. Otherwise, they may think they’re being rewarded for engaging with the tree instead of moving away from it.

If your pup isn’t getting the message and continues to go after the decorations, you can give them a firm but gentle “no” and lead them out of the room or baby gated area completely. Try to do this within seconds of them interacting with the decorations so that they can make the connection between touching the decorations and being removed. 

This process may take many repetitions and multiple sessions before your dog gets the hint that your holiday directions are off-limits! So stay patient and consistent.

Step Four: Set up a dog bed at a safe distance from the tree
Another great tip for training your dog to stay away from the tree is to give them an alternative. A dog bed is a perfect example. When your dog starts to interact with the tree, you can give them the command, “go to your bed” and then reward them for going to that spot. Having something to keep them entertained, such as a chew toy or lick matt is a good way to redirect their energy away from the tree. 

Step Five: Schedule in some extra playtime
As we mentioned, part of the reason why your dog may be so drawn to your holiday decorations is an excess of excitement and pent-up energy. So, as busy as the holiday season can be, do your very best to stay consistent with your dog’s exercise schedule. You might even schedule in a few extra walks or play sessions to tire them out more than usual. After all, we could bet that you could use the time to disconnect from the gift-wrapping, gingerbread-house making, Christmas music singing chaos, yourself!

Remember that with the excitement of the season, you can keep your doggo safely in the car on the way to the dog park with BreezeGuard Screens!

This year, your dog is going on the nice list!
By making your decorations less enticing, engaging in some dedicated training, and keeping up with your dog’s energy needs, your holiday decorations will have a better chance of staying safe this year! Who knows, your doggo might even behave so well that they’ll deserve a few extra Christmas gifts in their stocking!


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