The Target and Distract Method
6. Start commanding your dog “away” when he approaches the tree and just giving verbal praise with no treat.
1. TARGET AWAY FROM TREE – Watch your dog carefully. When he approaches the tree, say “away” and toss a treat on the floor away from the tree.
2. DISTRACT – Your dog will go get the treat. Now provide an alternate behavior, play, or let your dog outside to distract the dog from the tree.
3. REPEAT – Repeat whenever the dog approaches the tree, for a couple of days, saying “away” and tossing a treat away from the tree.
4. REWARD AWAY ROM TREE – When your dog has learned to move away from the tree for a treat, provide the away command without tossing a treat. When your dog moves away, give him a treat out of your hand. Alternate providing treats with just giving praise.
5. REPEAT and DISTRACT – Continue to distract with another choice when dog moves away from the tree, like a chew toy, play time, or outside.
REMOVE REWARD –
The Negative Association Method
1. CREATE A BOUNDARY – Create a boundary around your tree with aluminum foil, tacky mats that are used for keeping carpet from slipping, double-sided tape products available at pet stores, or a hard plastic mat with a nubby surface, also available from pet stores.
2. SUPERVISE and CATCH – Supervise your dog around the tree. When your dog approaches the tree he will have to come into contact with the barrier. Most dogs find the above surfaces unpleasant to walk on.
3. MAKE NOISE – When your dog reaches the barrier, say “no” or “away” and make a loud noise with a bell or can filled with beads or rocks.
4. STOP NOISE – When the dog backs off from the tree, stop making noise.
5. REWARD ‘AWAY’ BEHAVIOR – Give your dog lots of attention and rewards for staying away from the tree.
The Leave It Method
1. PRESENT TREAT IN HAND – Teach your dog the ‘leave it’ command by presenting him with a treat in your closed hand.
2. SAY “LEAVE IT” – When your dog tries to reach the treat, say “leave it”.
3. REWARD ‘LEAVE IT’ – When your dog stops trying to reach the treat, say good and provide the treat. Repeat until established.
4. APPLY ‘LEAVE IT’ TO THE TREE – Supervise your dog around the Christmas tree. When your dog approaches the tree, say “leave it”.
5. REWARD HESITATION AND DISTRACT – When your dog hesitates in his approach, call him away from the tree and reward him.
6. PRACTICE ‘LEAVE IT’ FOR TREE – Repeat for several days, replacing treats with praise. Eventually, just command the dog to “leave it” when he approaches the tree.