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Dog + Christmas tree = inevitable chaos??

(10 Posts)
Stayingsunnygirl Fri 06-Nov-09 13:34:55

We have a brown lab puppy who will be rising 7 months old by christmas. We want to have a christmas tree as usual, and have decided to put it up on a chest in the corner of the room, but I suspect that the dog will still be irresistably drawn to play with the baubles.

I am planning to keep the front room firmly closed up whenever there's no-one in there (subject to the family remembering to do this when I'm not around to nag remind them), but is there anything else that I can do to prevent wholesale destruction?

Can a dog be trained to leave the christmas tree alone? Ddog is still at the chewing things/destructive phase, though we are doing our best to discourage this behaviour and are trying to make sure she's not bored. Unfortunately a knee injury and a bad cold have made it much harder for me to walk her far in the middle of the day, so I'm trying to make sure she and I have some energetic play indoors instead - I'm hoping this will help.

gemmummy Fri 06-Nov-09 16:03:57

hi sunny girl, as the owner of a 12 month black lab i'm sorry to tell you that it takes a long while for labs (if ever) to grow out of that destructive phase! They just love to chew. Here's an idea, get or make a loud rattle (an old bottle with gravel in will do) Everytime pup goes near forbidden tree looking like it wants a cheeky bite then shake the rattle hard. The pup will soon learn to leave alone, the noise will shock it into doing so.

Stayingsunnygirl Fri 06-Nov-09 16:07:48

Thanks, gemmummy - that sounds like a good idea - better than relying on the boys to keep her out of the front room.

The sofa has just been decorated with very muddy pawprints because ds3 decided to leave the back door open, so that ddog could get out onto the quagmire back lawn. He vanished to do his paper round, so the first that I knew of the dog being outside was when her muddy paws hit the sofa. Keeping an eye on her, and drying her paws when she came in, didn't even occur to him.

MrsJohnDeere Fri 06-Nov-09 16:21:20

We have a Christmas tree stand with an outside bit that holds water. My springer treats this as a water bowl for him - every year he's thrilled and gives me a look as if to say 'wow I don't have to walk all the way to the kitchen to drink now'.

With a puppy I'd get a small tree and put it on a table or somewhere out of reach, and don't even think of putting chocolate decorations on it!

Stayingsunnygirl Fri 06-Nov-09 16:48:03

Good point, MrsJD - absolutely NO chocolate decorations!

minimu Fri 06-Nov-09 18:21:48

Your puppy does need to know that the Xmas tree is out of bounds.

I personally would not use the rattle method as what tends to happen is either the dog gets excited by the noise or they get anxious from the sound and this tends to lead to other problems and phobias.

Have you taught a general leave it command? I think this is one of the most important commands to teach to dogs. Then anything you need to the dog to leave, christmas tree, dropped food, toys that are left lying around, playing with other dogs, leaving other people alone are easily dealt with.

Another good command is the match me command. Hold food in your hand and the second the dog looks at you say watch me and give the treat. With a lab the problme will be getting them not to look at you! They must look at you and not at the treat so if you are holding the treat in your hand they will be looking at the treat eventually when you do not give them the treat they will glance at you say watch me and give the treat.

This is a great command and can be used to distract dogs in any situation at the vets, just about to chase a rabbit, or attack the Xmas Tree!

Also in the sitting room the dog could learn that it must behave in a certain way. For example my dogs don't play in the sitting room they are allowed in when they are tired and they must lie on the mats and be calm. if they need a crazy few minutes they go into the garden or the kitchen.

Definately no food on the tree and nothing that makes a noise and the dog should be fine. If they go near the tree say "leave it" and huge praise when they move away from the tree.

Stayingsunnygirl Fri 06-Nov-09 19:03:12

That all sounds like excellent advice, minimu - especially the 'watch me' command. Ddog does seem to be quite good at learning new things (I've been teaching her to come to the whistle this week, and she has got the idea that the whistle means I have a treat in my hand). Even better, I can work on 'watch me' indoors - which is useful as I live in Scotland, and we do get an awful lot of rain here.

She is still easily distracted, but perhaps learning the 'watch me' command might help with that, especially if she's learning it indoors with not too many distractions.

To be honest, it all seems as much about training me as training the puppy - but she is definitely worth it!

Blondeshavemorefun Sat 07-Nov-09 20:10:03

our monster was 6mth last xmas and he wasnt bothered by tree and we had a huge one

this year he will hopefully ignore it, will be 18mths, though sure bubba of 18mths will be VERY interested in the baubles etc

crokky Sat 07-Nov-09 20:13:27

Can you put the tree in a playpen?

Stayingsunnygirl Sat 07-Nov-09 23:10:51

I don't actually have a playpen, crokky - at 12, 14 and 16, the dses are a little too old for it now.

I think I'll put the tree on the chest in the corner of the room, as planned, and we'll do our best to make sure she's not alone in there with it.

Worst case, I could move it out to the conservatory, where we'd be able to see it, but it would be far easier to keep people out of there than out of the living room.

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