One of the most beloved holiday traditions families around the world look forward to is decorating the Christmas tree. Whether you opt for a little touch of nature and go with a real tree or prefer a pre-lit artificial beauty, no home is complete without a Christmas tree as the focal point of the family room during the Yuletide season. Christmas trees can pose many different hazards for families with pets; however, with a little extra care and some precautions put in place, dogs, cats, and the Christmas tree should all remain fast friends until it’s time to tear the decorations down and pack them away for another year. However, for many dogs, the Christmas tree has an irresistible appeal. Since a real tree smells just like the great outdoors, some dogs feel the need to add their unique scent to it by peeing on it. As an added “bonus,” sometimes Fido’s aim not only hits the tree, it also provides a generous sprinkling of urine onto the presents beneath it. Since no family likes having to deal with added odor or mess at Christmastime, it is natural to ask the question—how do I keep my dog from peeing on my Christmas tree?
Prevention is Key
When it comes to keeping your Christmas tree urine-free, prevention is the very best strategy. Thankfully, there are lots of things that you can do to help Fido learn to restrict his urges for bathroom behavior restricted to time spent outdoors.
Here are our top tips for keeping your Christmas tree safe from dog pee this holiday season:
Regular bathroom breaks
Ensuring your dog has his urine tank on empty can help keep your Christmas tree safe from marking this holiday season. To accomplish this, increase the number of times you take your dog outside for potty breaks to give him ample opportunity to do his urinating outdoors.
Keeping your dog well-exercised through neighborhood walks will also help reduce the temptation to use your Christmas tree as a peeing post. This strategy is particularly effective since your dog will have access to many other trees along his walking route where he can indulge his desire to leave his scent for other dogs to find.
Be alert to possible marking from both boy and girl dogs
Though intact male dogs are the most likely to lift their legs against a Christmas tree, both neutered males and females (spayed or intact) are also known to mark things on occasion. Males most commonly urinate directly on the tree and its surroundings whereas females are more prone to urinating on tree skirts, presents, or an area near the Christmas tree.
Marking indoors very rarely has anything to do with an urge to urinate that must be satisfied. It is a primal urge to leave the dog’s scent on property as a sign to other canines that that particular spot is already taken by the resident dog.
Past behavior is also not necessarily an indicator of what is to come this year. A dog that did not mark your tree last year may decide this year is the year to leave his or her urine trail on or around the Christmas tree. Likewise, dogs that have marked in previous years may decide to forego the activity this particular Noel.
Keep a close eye on canine visitors
When a new dog visits a home or a family adopts a dog into a home with established pets, marking is a very common behavior. After all, a vital part of the dog feeling at home includes leaving his scent in his surroundings, so the house begins to smell a little bit like him.
If you will be receiving canine visitors over the holidays, keep a careful eye to ensure the pooch doesn’t take aim at your tree.
Restrict direct access to the Christmas tree
When you cannot supervise your dog, it is important to reduce the dog’s access to the Christmas tree. This can be accomplished through the use of a crate, by baby gating the dog in another room, or by keeping your pooch on a leash attached to you.
Dogs can easily become fixated on the one thing you don’t want them to do. However, making use of a whistle or even a toy your dog enjoys can help redirect your dog’s attention from the Christmas tree to something more fun to do. Keep on hand some raw, meaty bones and a selection of toys to give your dog to play with, and he will soon lose interest in “watering” your tree.
Use a belly band
Belly bands are a strip of absorbent fabric which stretches over a dog’s genital region. Belly bands are available in many different sizes to accommodate the needs of even the largest dogs. When a male dog attempts to urinate on something, the belly band traps the urine and prevents it from reaching the intended object. Most dogs hate being dirty, and thus, quickly learn that if they attempt to mark something they will simply end up wet, and they cease the behavior.
Most belly bands can be lined with panty liners which can be disposed of once soiled.
For female dogs with a penchant for marking, you can purchase doggy diapers at most local pet stores.
Protect the tree with an ex-pen, gate, or fence
Though this approach does somewhat mar the appearance of the tree, a baby gate, ex-pen, or fence placed strategically around the Christmas tree and the surrounding presents can help keep things safe and dry all throughout the season.
Teach your dog the “leave it” command
All dogs should learn the “leave it” command as there are many times in a dog’s life when they will be attracted to something that could cause them harm, and this simple command could save their lives.
To make use of the “leave it” command to prevent peeing on the Christmas tree, simply say “leave it” when you see your dog approaching the area. When your dog complies with your request, reward him lavishly with treats and praise. For most dogs, over time, they will learn that the tree is an off-limits zone.
Protecting Christmas Presents from Dog Pee
Dogs are often quite attracted to presents though chewing is more often their intention. However, presents are in the direct line of fire of a dog that decides to urinate on the Christmas tree, so a few extra precautions can ensure your presents remain safe and stink-free.
The same tips that apply to protecting the Christmas tree also apply to protecting your presents. Prevention is the most effective strategy.
Hoping to keep your tree and gifts urine-free this Christmas? Follow our top tips, and you’ll be guaranteed success!