Decorating with Dogs

The air is cooler.  The leaves are falling.  It is official:  fall is here!  And along with fall comes one of my favorite hobbies, decorating!

My husband and I love Halloween.  We have a small orange Christmas tree that we hang our spooky ornaments on.  And I have amassed quite the stuffed animal collection over the years.

However, my dogs also enjoy this time of year (especially Christmas) because new “chew toys” magically appear.   Best of all, these “toys” are on the floor, ripe for the picking.  I’ll admit, I have lost several of my decorations to my fur babies.  And while I was upset at the time, I understood why they did it.

How can you explain to a dog that these soft, plush animals that closely resemble their toys are off limits?  I refuse to ban my fur kids from the living room during the months of October, November and December.  I rescued each dog because I wanted to love them and I certainly cannot do that if they are confined to roam around the kitchen.  Plus, that is not teaching them to correct the deviant behavior.  And my dogs will ALWAYS matter more to me than holiday themed plush.

To end the chewing fandango, we used an empty Nature’s Miracle spray bottle.  We thoroughly cleaned the bottle and then filled it with cold water.  Next, we took a red Sharpie and labeled the bottle “Water” so as to not confuse it with the actual Nature’s Miracle. 

When a dog approached a decoration, we simply fired off a warning squirt.  We always aim for their back, NEVER their face.  Our intention is to change their behavior, not scare or intimidate them.  And since our dogs hate to be wet, this technique works beautifully.  After just a few squirts, our dogs learned what items should be left alone.

Since my birthday is on Christmas Day, you can imagine what the inside of our house looks like in December.  I’ll just say that the Grinch would hate us the most (and need a huge sleigh to steal our stuff).  I have four large Winnie-the-Pooh plush that stand about three feet tall.  For the past two years, my dogs have decided that these look like great items to tinkle on.

What perplexed me the most was the fact that they did this year after year.  And the water bottle trick would not deter them.  I then came up with an idea.

Upon bringing any plush items into the house, I immediately spray each item with Nature’s Miracle.  This product is used to eliminate pet odors and staining when they have accidents in the house.

After placing the items throughout the house, I then release my dogs.  Much to my surprise, they simply sniffed them and walked away.  They didn’t try to chew or mark them for the entire month.

I was amazed!  I think it may have to do with the fact that each time they had an accident in the house, we would squirt them with water and then immediately clean up the spot with Nature’s Miracle.  I truly believe that dogs are smart enough to connect the scent of Nature’s Miracle to the memory of being squirted.  So, in correcting one bad behavior, we discovered that we were actually correcting two!

Needless to say, this trick has saved many a decoration.  I hope that these tips will help you to enjoy the upcoming holiday season with all of your fur babies!


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