One of the crucial Christmas customs that adds to the magic of the holiday season is trimming the tree. If your dog is active and curious, there are ways to dog-proof your Christmas Tree and holiday décor to make the month of December safer.
Naturally, we want to give our animal companions a taste of everything the festive season has to offer. So, by dog-proofing your Christmas tree with pet-friendly ornaments and using physical obstacles and training cues to keep your dog clear of the tree, you can preserve the spirit and good cheer of the holiday season.
This Holiday, Consider Using an Artificial Christmas Tree
Did you know that some chemicals added to tree water can be harmful to animals? Also, dogs who consume falling pine needles may encounter gastric issues. For these reasons, an artificial Christmas tree can be a wiser choice than a real one.
But if you do decide to have a real tree, vets advise skipping the chemicals and making sure it’s well-watered to avoid the needles falling off. The water can be fully contained (and your setup will be more aesthetically pleasing) with the help of a Christmas tree stand cover.
Stabilize Your Tree
Whatever type of tree you decide on, be sure it’s sturdy enough to prevent your dog from accidentally knocking it over.
To prevent tilting or leaning, you should ensure that your tree base is strong and sturdy. You might be able to make it even more secure by attaching it to the ceiling or a wall, or you may be able to make strategic use of your furniture. Consider positioning the tree in a spot behind your couch if you have a larger dog.
Enclose the Christmas Tree Space
There are additional ways to keep your dog away from a Christmas tree if you don’t want to tuck it behind the sofa. A pet gate is arguably the easiest solution. A Christmas tree gate or dog fence with vertical rather than horizontal slats may work best.
A dog gate around the Christmas tree can help keep your pup away from the tree, as well as all the gifts, breakable ornaments, and even the tree’s water that can pose a danger to dogs. It may be advisable to block off the entire room with a baby or pet gate, or close a door, if one is available, to keep an unattended dog away from the tree.
Train Your Dog, So He or She Steers Clear of the Tree
Some trainers have taught dogs to obey a “place command”cue, whereby they go to a specific dog bed or mat when instructed, despite a huge distraction like a big blinking tree in the living room.
Other good commands for dogs to learn in this regard include ‘Down,’ ‘Stay,’ and ‘Go to [your location].” Try giving step-by-step instructions to teach your dog how to settle down on a mat.
Also, try letting your dog initially “check out” and sniff the tree to get accustomed to it but not a place where they regularly want to visit.
Utilize Dog-Safe Tree Decorations
So, what are the ideal Christmas tree decorations for a dog-proof tree? The answer varies depending on the particular dog. Be aware of your dog’s weaknesses. Some decorations you might want to skip. But be aware that your home is also their home, so keep that in mind when you decorate your tree.
Some decorations can be iffy when it comes to dogs. Plush toys, for instance, may be a safe choice, or they could appear to your pet to be a chew toy; this may be a judgment call you need to make. Unlike glass, plastic ornaments are unlikely to shatter.
Try to Avoid These Christmas Tree Decorations
Dogs and Christmas trees don’t always get along, and the tree itself isn’t the only safety risk. Other holiday decor items to reconsider are as follows:
- Tinsel (which can be a danger if swallowed)
- Salt dough ornaments (these can lead to salt poisoning in dogs)
- Strings of popcorn (if it’s swallowed, the string can cause intestinal issues)
- Metal hooks
- Anything edible (this includes chocolate, which is toxic for dogs)
- Christmas string lights and other electrical items (Placement of lights away from a dog’s reach is key)
- Candy canes and other products prepared with the sugar substitute xylitol are another unintended holiday risk. According to vets, this ingredient is toxic for dogs.
Instead of these items, consider using your Christmas cards as decorations and keeping the most breakable and delicate ornaments out of reach of dogs. Also, fake LED candles are much safer than real ones.
The goal in all this is taking out the doggy temptations and replacing them with safe options.
Don’t Leave Gifts at the Bottom of the Christmas Tree
Pet experts agree: wait until the very last minute to distribute your gifts.
Sadly, presents left under the tree for days or weeks can prove to be too tempting for some dogs. Instead, try to keep them out of reach entirely. Keeping gifts hidden will help keep your pet safe in addition to keeping the goodies secure. Dogs can out-smell us, so if your aunt left you a fruit cake, or there’s a box of chocolate (chocolate is toxic to dogs) you’re unaware of, your dog will almost surely know it’s there.
On Christmas Day, remember to clean up! The leftovers from the unwrapping craze, including ribbons, ties, and even small, still-wrapped delicacies like candies, can causes gastric obstructions in dogs. Be mindful, and put waste in a garbage bag or other receptacle as gifts are unwrapped.
It is also recommended to appoint one or two people to be in charge of the cleaning. Additionally, if one person unwraps their gift at time, it’s easier to stay on top of the trash duties.
Taking a Few Safety Precautions Can Keep Your Holiday Stress-Free
The holiday spirit can still be in full swing with these safety tips. Taking just a few precautions to make a dog-proof Christmas tree can be worth it.