How Do I Keep My Dog From Destroying Our Annual Holiday Decorations?

How do I keep my dog from destroying our annual holiday decorations? We decorate our family room extensively, and every year he always chews something up, even when we’re home!

The holidays can bring extra challenges to all relationships, not the least of which involve canine members of the family. The big question is why your dog would choose the holiday as his time to explore his inner decorator. The answer to this problem, I think, is tied directly to how your life changes during this time of year. Maybe your dog doesn’t get the amount of attention and exercise he’s used to, so his boredom drives him to find another outlet. Dogs can’t read a magazine to entertain themselves, but they derive great pleasure in shredding them. The decorations that he only sees on holidays make a particularly enticing target (hence his penchant for them vs. the furniture that he sees year round). And let’s not forget the extra family or social commitments that cause you - and your family - to be abnormally excited and stressed out. Dogs are accurate barometers of our emotions; they feel (and become confused by) the stress and chaos that ensues. Although you can take a warm bath to decompress, your dog’s options are usually of the oral variety, so be sure to offer him plenty of suitable outlets for his chewing in the form of new (durable!) toys and to monitor him closely whenever he’s near the decorations.

As dog owners, it’s our responsibility to provide them with the opportunity to engage in activities that serve their minds as well as their bodies. And when the basics are met – a healthy diet, appropriate outlets for chewing, proper training, affection, exercise and toys that are appropriate for your dog - then everyone will have a happy holiday season.