A collection of Christmas gifts stacked under the tree can look like a toy store to your dog. Keep her away from the family’s gifts by training her to leave them alone, hiding the gifts in out-of-reach locations and keeping your dog entertained with her own toys—and, perhaps, an early gift or two.
Wrapping Christmas gifts with your dog or dogs curiously watching can quickly turn into a stressful situation. It’s no surprise that your dog might become as excited about presents as you are. And if it isn’t her first Christmas, then she already knows that wrapping paper equals treats and toys. But she might not realize that you’re wrapping other people’s gifts and not hers.
This can lead to damaged gifts (or, at the very least, an hour or two of hard work that’s been undone) and your dog’s name on the naughty list. And how is a pet parent supposed to keep their dogs away from all of those enticing gift boxes under the tree until Christmas morning finally arrives?
How to Stop Your Dog from Opening Gifts
Even if you haven’t been there yourself, you can imagine the situation: one second, you’re carefully taping the wrapping paper onto a clothes box and the next, you notice your dog ripping the paper off of the last gift you finished!
You can’t blame her for being curious—she probably thinks there’s a toy inside. Or, she might just like the feeling of tearing the paper off. While you’re wrapping gifts, hide the scissors, tape and glue so your dog can’t run around with it if she thinks you’re trying to play with her.
When storing gifts for family and friends under the tree, your dog might think they’re actually for her and help herself to someone’s sweater or toy. Dogs can become difficult to control when there are lots of mysterious presents lying around. It’s especially important to keep them away from delicate gifts and wrapped food items, such as boxes of chocolate or candy.
Whether your dog is a puppy or an adult, the simplest solution is to move her to another room while you wrap gifts. Or, you can move yourself to another room where you can wrap gifts behind a closed door. Using a baby gate is another option for separating your dogs from those tantalizing presents.
This isn’t always possible, though; maybe you live in a smaller apartment or have too many presents and not enough closet space. Maybe you live in a multi-dog household where putting your dogs in a room together will lead to more trouble that torn wrapping paper. This is when you’ll have to get creative.
Distract her with new toys
While you’re counting down the days until Christmas and arranging gifts under the tree, your dog is going to need lots of distractions from what she probably thinks is a pile of presents for her. Extra walks are in order, as well as plenty of praise for good behavior. You can also give your dog a new toy as an early present to help keep her entertained so she’s not focusing on the urge to open wrapped gifts.
Train her to stay in place
Common training commands, such as “leave it” and “place,” can be very useful when you need to prevent your dog from getting into the pile of presents. Putting her bed on the other side of the room can make following her training easier but not every dog can resist the crinkling, shiny paper covering a collection of mysterious objects.
Hide the gifts in creative ways
Hiding gifts is another option if you have the closet space to do it. Or, you can find creative ways to hide presents throughout your house or apartment. For example, you can place smaller gifts on shelves as part of your holiday decor or stack them in a corner and cover them in a large decorative bag.
Pay special attention to puppies
Keeping puppies away from Christmas presents can be even more difficult because all of that energy is just waiting to tear open dozens of new toys! Of course, those “new toys” probably include someone’s new shoes and someone else’s headphones, books or video games. To make it even trickier, your puppy probably hasn’t yet learned how to stay or “leave it.” But with the above tips and extra special attention, you can make sure your puppy stays away from the presents.
How to Wrap a Present for a Dog
You’re probably looking forward to giving your dog her own gifts on Christmas morning, too! She’ll have so much fun participating in the excitement but there are some important things to remember about wrapping gifts for your dog.
Stick to soft, easy-to-rip wrapping paper. You don’t have to use ribbons or strings to decorate—these can become stuck in your dog’s mouth or accidentally eaten. Plus, she will be perfectly happy just tearing the paper off.
Use minimal tape and don’t use glue to seal the paper or attach decorations. Again, the gift doesn’t have to look as beautiful as you want your family’s gifts to look—your dog is going to have fun ripping it open, anyway.
Monitor your dog while she’s opening the present. If she’s having difficulty, help her out. And if you notice her starting to chew the paper into small pieces, it’s time to remove the paper and give her the toy to chew on, instead.
On Christmas morning, it’s a good idea to give your dog the first gift. This way, she’ll be distracted while her family opens their gifts. Even with a toy keeping her busy it can be helpful to leash your dog during the peak of the excitement. It’s especially beneficial in settings with groups of friends or multiple dogs. Keeping the dogs separated and focused on their own toys will help make the situation calmer and easier to control.
A morning walk before or during your gift-opening tradition can also help relax your dog. And if she’s simply too excited about Christmas, place her in another room or in her crate, just for the beginning of the festivities.
For the best gift-opening experience, only wrap toys that your dog can play with right away. Tough, hard-to-break toys are best because she can chew on them all morning. Don’t wrap treats or food—she’ll want to open that bag right away, too. You can keep the Christmas treats for after, when you’re praising her for behaving so well during the excitement.
Christmas Tree Safety
Presents aren’t the only things that make Christmas trees attractive to dogs. Decorations might look like toys and cause a dog to pull on the tree or bump into it trying to play with the ornaments. If you’re using lights, tinsel and delicate or important keepsake ornaments, keep them well out of reach of curious pups so they’re not accidentally broken or eaten. Hang them nearer the top of the tree, leaving the bottom branches bare. And always secure them firmly so they won’t fall off when your dog bumps into the tree.
Christmas is an exciting time for everyone and the presents are no small part of that feeling. Keeping your dog away from all of the gifts can be tricky but, with our tips, you and your four-legged family members can celebrate a happy, safe and worry-free holiday.
- Erb, Hilarie. “Hey, Is That for Me? How to Decide If Your Dog Should Open His Gifts.” American Kennel Club, AKC, 28 Dec. 2016.
- Palika, Liz. “Giving Your Dog Holiday Presents.” Embrace Pet Insurance, Embrace Pet Insurance Agency.
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