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How to Stop Your Dog From Peeing on the Christmas Tree

Has your dog ever peed on the Christmas tree?

I was horrified to hear my dog Ace lifted his leg on one of my parents’ indoor plants one summer. Not the Christmas tree but almost as bad!

I know a lot of dogs get confused when there’s suddenly a Christmas tree in the house, especially if it’s a real tree vs. a fake tree.

Imagine all those smells!

So how can you stop a dog from peeing on the Christmas tree or at least prevent the behavior? Let me know your ideas and tips in the comments. I’ll share my ideas below.

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How to stop your dog from peeing on the Christmas tree – 12 tips

Stop your dog from peeing on the Christmas tree

Here are my 12 tips to stop your dog from peeing on the Christmas tree.

1. Take your dog out for lots of potty breaks to prevent peeing on the Christmas tree.

Unfortunately, there is no dog proof Christmas tree. So, to decrease your dog’s likelihood of peeing on the tree, make sure to take him out for potty breaks more often than usual. Ideally, take him out for a long walk right before you set up the tree.

2. Don’t make any assumptions.

I took my dog Remy to our office last December and he peed on the office Christmas tree! I never thought he would so something like that. But, he did! So embarrassing!

So .. don’t make assumptions. Here are some other examples:

If your dog is a girl, she could still try to mark the tree. Or she might pee next to the Christmas tree or right under the tree!

If your dog is neutered, he could still try to mark the tree. Even if he’s normally potty trained, he could still get confused and pee on the tree!

If your dog did not pee on the tree last year, that doesn’t mean he won’t do it this year. He might be more territorial this year or more confident or maybe this year’s tree has more smells on it. Who knows.

Also, just because your dog does not pee on YOUR Christmas tree, it does not guarantee he will not pee on a friend or relative’s Christmas tree!

Also see my post: Stop your dog from marking in the house.

3. Don’t trust newly adopted dogs or visiting dogs.

Even if you’re told your newly adopted dog is 99 percent potty trained, he could still try to mark the tree. Trust me. Just because a dog is potty trained doesn’t mean he’ll understand the tree is off limits.

And as I hinted to earlier, make sure to supervise your dog or keep him leashed if you visit a friend or relative’s house during the holidays.

The key is to supervise the dog at all times until you’re sure he’s going to leave the tree alone. Use a kennel/crate when you can’t supervise. You may need to go back to dog potty training 101 as in supervising constantly, preventing mistakes and rewarding with treats for going potty outside.

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4. Keep your dog leashed to prevent marking the Christmas tree.

Not necessarily all the time, but at least when you first set up the tree or when you first arrive at a friend’s house if your friend has a tree up. This is a good idea when you bring your dog into any new home anyway.

The point of the leash is to keep your dog in your sight at all times. That way there’s no sneaking off and casually lifting a leg on the tree!

I would keep your dog on a leash for the first 30 minutes and then maybe walk by the tree with him a few times so you feel confident he’s not going to try to mark the tree. You should still keep a close eye on him if you do decide to let him off leash.

5. Use a belly band if your male dog keeps marking the Christmas tree.

A dog “belly band” fits around a male dog’s belly so if he tries to mark in the house, the belly band catches the urine. It’s sort of like a diaper! You would want to continue using other training methods in addition to this because the belly band doesn’t actually teach him not to mark. It’s just there to save your tree (or your furniture, carpets, etc.)

Dog belly band

For females that mark, you can use actual dog diapers. These are available at quite a few pet stores for when females go into heat. Amazon also sells a variety of disposable dog diapers and male wraps.

I realize dog diapers and belly bands are awkward and embarrassing but they are there as an option if you’re running into a pretty frustrating issue with your dog or perhaps a foster dog.

6. Kennel/crate your dog when you can’t supervise.

This is a good idea around the holidays anyway because there are so many tempting packages, snacks and decorations. If you don’t have a kennel, then leave your dog in a bedroom or other area that is dog proof. Pet gates also come in handy during this time.

7. Use a Pet Corrector.

If your dog seems too interested in the tree and is not responding to a firm “no,” you could try distracting him with a simple product called the Pet Corrector. This blasts compressed air to startle the dog. Then you would praise him for moving away from the tree.

8. Use Nature’s Miracle Pet Repellent

Nature’s Miracle Pet Block Repellent spray is a spray formulated to keep pets away from a certain area. Try spraying it around your tree to keep your dog away.

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9. Create an invisible boundary around the tree.

Dogs do respect boundaries if they’re given clear boundaries to begin with. If you decide a small area around the tree is off limits to your dog, simply tell him “no” or “leave it” when he approaches that boundary.

Reward him with treats and praise for staying back. Also reward your dog when he’s lying calmly on his dog bed.

10. Use a fence or gate to block the Christmas tree.

If needed, you could consider putting the tree in a room that you’re able to block off from your dog with a baby gate.

Another option is to set up an ex-pen around the tree. Ridiculous, I know, but it’s been done!

This is basically like a “play pen” for dogs but instead of putting the dog in the pen you’re using the pen to keep the dog out!

This is not exactly my number one choice, but I know of more than one person who uses this option because of her foster dogs. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Some people love to foster dogs and still want a nice tree!

Dog Ex-pen around Christmas tree

11. Use the ‘Leave It’ command.

Leave it comes in handy for so many scenarios and this is one of them. As your dog approaches the tree, you would tell him “leave it” and then reward him for moving back.

Stop a dog from peeing on the christmas tree

12. Praise good behavior.

Don’t forget to praise your dog for good behavior using treats and affection. Praise him for lying quietly on his dog bed or on the couch or whatever spot he’s welcome. Good boy!

How to clean dog pee off the Christmas tree

If your dog has already peed on or around the tree, I recommend you do your best to clean the area with a strong enzymatic pet cleaner. Nature’s Miracle makes a good one and then you can use their pet deterrent spray to hopefully keep your dog away from the tree in the future.

Obviously it’s hard to clean an actual tree, but if the urine got on the Christmas tree skirt or the floor or rug, these types of products should help.

Is it safe to have a real Christmas tree with dogs?

Yes. Thankfully, most dogs will not try to pee on or mark a Christmas tree, especially with supervision and training. This is true whether it’s a real tree or an artificial tree, so it’s really up to you which type of tree you prefer.

Real Christmas trees should not harm your dog or cat even if they try to bite it or eat it. The needles on some types of trees are a bit sharp, however!

My dog takes the Christmas tree ornaments!

It’s common for puppies or young dogs to try to play with the Christmas tree ornaments. Even some adult dogs might find certain ornaments hard to resist!

Supervision goes a long way, of course. You may also need to go back to crating your dog when you’re not home, even if your dog is normally loose when home alone.

Another option is to leave your dog in a room where she does not have access to the tree such as a bedroom.

My dog Ace was a very well behaved boy but he used to chew up the ball-shaped Christmas ornaments while I was at work! I guess he thought some of those were too closely related to his own toys!

I thought this was sort of cute, and thankfully he did not eat the ornaments.

If you do catch your dog playing with or chewing on an ornament, tell her “no” and then hand her one of her own favorite toys. You might even buy her a few new toys to have on hand during the holidays.

My dog Remy with a new chew toy

Some dogs will never touch an ornament again after being told “no” a few times. Other dogs are more challenging and just can’t seem to resist! So be patient.

You might need to have fewer ornaments on your Christmas tree this year or just stick with lights only. A year is a long time in a dog’s life, and often your dog will be more mature during the next holiday season.

If your dog is attracted to certain types of ornaments, such as ball shapes or ornaments that look like little stuffed animals, you may need to remove those ornaments or try hanging them higher. Every dog is different.

I’ve found that once a dog is over a year old or so they are actually pretty good about leaving ornaments alone.

If you have special ornaments that have been in the family for years or very fragile ornaments, you may want to hold off on those this season. 🙂

How to stop my dog from opening the Christmas presents!

There are a few types of Christmas presents that tend to really attract dogs:

Gifts of food. You should not keep food wrapped up under the tree, especially chocolates.

I realize you might not always know what’s in your own gifts, but if you receive gifts from others you could always ask if it’s food. Dogs can obviously smell the food and might try to open it up.

Dog toys or kids’ toys. Your dog might be able to sense that the gift is for her if she recognizes a dog-toy smell or sound. For example, maybe the gift smells like another toy similar to one she already has.

Or maybe the toy is from Petco and she is interested in those scents! If you wrap Christmas presents for your dog, you might need to keep them picked up until it’s time for her to open them. 🙂

My dog Remy and cat Scout

Gifts from friends who also have pets. Your dog might be extra interested in your Christmas gifts if they’re from friends or family who also have pets. Your pup will be extra interested in those other doggy smells!

Bows and ribbons. Some dogs will be extra tempted to play with a bow or ribbon attached to a gift.

Most dogs will learn to leave the presents alone if you simply tell him “no” and praise them for ignoring the gifts. However, you might need to crate your young dog or puppy when you’re not home.

I would also pick up any of the gifts mentioned above or any that seem to attract your dog for whatever reason.

How to stop a dog from peeing on the Christmas presents

If your dog seems interested in the Christmas presents, you can prevent him from chewing the presents or “marking” the presents by using some of the same tips mentioned earlier.

The main thing is to supervise your dog when you are home and to use a kennel or crate when you can’t supervise. At least, until he learns the rules.

Cats and Christmas trees – my cat keeps getting into the Christmas tree!

Aww, yes. Cats can be even worse than dogs sometimes!

If your cat keeps climbing on the tree or knocking off the ornaments, one simple solution is to put your cat in a separate room at night and when you’re not home. Make sure there is a litterbox and water for him, of course.

That option has worked well for me in the past. I actually have my cat’s litterbox and water bowl set up in my home office and that’s where he sleeps at night.

If needed, I can close the office door and have him stay comfortably in that room. He seems to like his “cat-partment” as we call it.

My cat Scout loves Christmas trees!

Beyond that, you can try a few tactics such as spraying your cat with a squirt bottle of water when you see her playing with the ornaments.

The Pet Corrector that I mentioned earlier can also work for kitties. This is a product that shoots a blast of compressed air to deter the dog or cat but will not harm them.

You may need to go without certain ornaments this year if your cat simply can’t leave them alone.

On the other hand, if your cat is not actually climbing the tree and is only batting at an ornament occasionally, there’s probably not a whole lot to worry about.

You could also try buying your cat some new toys to keep her interested in something other than the tree and gifts. But let’s be honest, cats really want to play with ribbon and boxes so maybe you should just try giving your cat a few extra boxes to play in!

What would you add to the list?

How would you stop a dog from peeing on the Christmas tree or getting into the presents? Does your dog or cat get into the Christmas tree? Let us know in the comments.

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How to stop your dog from peeing on the Christmas tree

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Lindsay Stordahl is the founder of That Mutt. She writes about dog training and behavior, healthy raw food for pets and running with dogs.

Carol Bryant

Monday 3rd of December 2018

My dogs never peed on our tree, but we have an artificial tree. He does, however, try burying his bone in the tree skirt. We just watch him and have a fun holiday. Great ideas for peeing on tree dogs here.

Karly Edwards

Monday 3rd of December 2018

Great suggestions. This actually never really occurred to me so thanks for the heads up! Luckily our tree is elevated on a small table so there's no way mine could reach it. And although she's a girl, she does scent mark so it's good to know. Think we'll carry on keeping the tree out of reach from now on!

Ruby and Kristin

Sunday 2nd of December 2018

We haven't had this problem with either of our dogs. However, we do have a new cat who is quite active and curious. I have a funny feeling he will be very interested in the tree and not in a good way. I'm glad to know Nature's Miracle's Pet Block. I didn't know they made a deterrent spray so good to know about that.

Chirpy Cats

Sunday 2nd of December 2018

I can see why a dog would want to mark this strange smelling quite appealing new object in the house! I wonder if that new kind of Christmas tree designed for people who have naughty cats would also deter a dog? There is no bottom 'foliage' on the tree - it only starts about a third of the way up.


Saturday 1st of December 2018

My dogs never marked on the Christmas tree. But once we took our dog to my dads house for Christmas and brought down to the basement to stay out of trouble... and the first thing he did was go to a corner wall and mark! I was so shocked and embarrassed. Thank goodness it was just my dads house.