Has your puppy made the christmas tree their new chew toy?
Here are 7 steps you can take to stop your puppy from chewing the christmas tree
I swear puppies are little fluffy dinosaurs in disguise.
Mouthing is very normal in puppies, they explore the world with their mouths so it makes sense that they will want to explore the shiny new christmas tree
A lot of destructive behaviours are caused by lack of mental and physical stimulation.
Young puppies need a very small amount of exercise due to their underdeveloped joints so mental stimulation is the safest way to remove their energy.
Playing games is a very fun and engaging way to tire your young puppy out and if your puppy is tired, they will have less energy to chew and become destructive.
If your puppy has been regularly practising chewing and destroying a variety of items they are not allowed to chew then it makes sense they’ll head for the christmas tree.
Or if they have already practiced the behaviour before then it makes sense they’ll practice it again as they would have found it enjoyable.
So how do we stop it?
To manage and prevent your puppy from getting to the tree, the quickest and safest option is to crate train.
If you have decided to not use a crate then a small, controlled space is a must.
It allows your puppy to be kept away from anything dangerous.
It is much better to have your puppy in a crate whilst unsupervised than accidentally chew, swallow or knock down an ornament that could break and harm your puppy.
So for safety, use the crate when you are not supervising and training your puppy.
Whilst crate training helps prevent your puppy from getting to the tree, it doesn’t actually teach your puppy to leave it alone.
Using the christmas tree during training sessions shows that you are far more interesting than the tree.
Follow the same steps you would take to build engagement and to socialise to desensitise your puppy
And if your puppy is showing signs of destruction, interest, or any other unwanted response you will need to start counter conditioning.
I don’t teach my puppy to come back to me.
A recall is a bi-product of engagement and is your puppy’s desire be around you.
So practising engagement around the tree will teach your puppy that you are far more interesting than the sparkly new christmas tree and therefore, you will be able to call your puppy away from the tree. If they decide they want to explore it.
However, here are 3 indoor games you can play to help build engagement.
In our home we typically get a smaller tree that we can put on a table. This is not possible if your tree is too big but it is very handy if you are able to.
Unfortunately depending on the size of your puppy as well, they may already be able to reach the christmas tree even if it is on a table.
This does not stop your puppy from being interested in the tree. However, it does mean that if you rush out of the room and forget to put the puppy in their pen that they won’t have full access to it the few minutes you are gone.
But don’t rely on this to truly train your puppy
Take the training process slow and begin to enjoy the journey.
Teaching your puppy anything does not happen overnight.
It needs to be a regular occurrence and the process will take even longer if your puppy has already built a habit of mouthing, chewing, or destroying the tree so be patient with them and allow a few weeks or even months to see some results.
Remember, puppies explore the world with their mouths so don’t correct them when they display this NORMAL behaviour.
It is up to us to supervise their mouthy adventures in a controlled manner to make sure we can remove them if they end up mouthing on something that they shouldn’t.
I have a whole blog post on puppy proofing your home in preparation for christmas here.
I’m also not a fan of correcting a puppy in general as they are blank slates. You wouldn’t use an eraser on a blank piece of paper, would you?
It is important to know that it is much easier to prevent your puppy from doing anything than it is to solve it.
If your puppy is already showing signs of interest such as trying to play, bite, or chew the tree then it is important to begin implementing some structure and routine around the christmas tree.
And no, these methods are not meant to make sure your puppy has no fun at christmas.
However, it is very important that you train your puppy to listen to you and be safe because unfortunately, although a decorated christmas tree is very beautiful… It can also be very dangerous.
Book a free 45 minute discovery call to discuss your current lifestyle, goals and any problems you are currently having