How to Dog-Proof Your Christmas Tree

How to Dog-Proof Your Christmas Tree

For many households, the Christmas Tree is the focal point of the holiday decorations. But if you have a new puppy or a boisterous dog, you may be wondering if a Christmas tree can survive the season at your house. Rather than going without, here are some tips that can keep your dog safe while preserving your family’s beautiful tree.

Tip 1: A fake tree may be less inviting

Before bringing in the great outdoors, consider a fake tree. Real trees have a scent that is inviting to your dog, and it’s also a great potty spot to them. Your dog is not going to necessarily understand why he can pee on the tree in the yard, but not on the one in your living room. Fake trees do not smell as inviting and may drastically cut down your dog’s attraction to your Christmas tree.

Tip 2: Placement

Think about the area of the house your dog travels through least. Try to find a corner or area where your family can still enjoy it, but it’s not on your dog’s morning run on his way outside. This can help you avoid tree-dog collisions that never end well.

Tip 3: Choose ornaments carefully

Shatterproof, non-breakable ornaments are best for a Christmas tree in a pet home, especially if your dog is prone to zooming through your house, perhaps under the tree itself. Display glass ornaments on a holder on a shelf or on the table where your dog is less likely to get to them.

A lot of non-breakable ornaments are stuffed animals. If you have a stuffed-animal loving dog, you may want to skip putting those in your tree as well, unless your dog has learned to tell the difference between a stuffed toy he is given, and one that is placed out of reach. Some can, some can’t.

You also don’t want to use candy canes, popcorn strands, or other edibles that your dog may not be able to resist. No one wants to come home to a knocked-over tree and a dog that needs a vet visit because he ingested sugary candy canes and popcorn garlands – string and all!

Lastly, make sure nothing is poisonous on the tree. Popular holiday decorations can include ferns and palm leaves, which are often poisonous. Poinsettias are deadly, so you want to keep their flowers out of your tree – opt for fake instead.

Tip 4: Mind the cords

While your dog can be a menace to your tree, don’t forget that the cord can be a real hazard to dogs, especially chewers. To avoid electrocution, cover your tree’s light cord with something like a CritterCord, that is made to prevent your dog from being able to chew the cord. Unplug the cord when you are not home, to lower the risk of your dog getting electrocuted while you are gone.

Tip 5: Don’t leave your dog alone with the tree

This is especially important if you have a puppy: Don’t leave your dog unattended with your tree. If you are at all worried, she may get into it when you are not around, it’s best to shut that room off or crate your dog. That way, you can relax knowing your dog and your Christmas tree are safe.

Tip 6: Train them

If you want to be able to leave your dog with your tree safely, maybe even have some fragile ornaments on the tree, then you will want to spend some time working with your dog. You can use your “leave it” cue, if your dog has one. Anytime your dog looks or go towards the tree, say your cue and then reward them for leaving it. If your dog does not already have leave it on cue, you can start by just rewarding them when they look away or turn away from the tree, no cue needed. This teaches your dog that ignoring the Christmas tree gets them good things!

A last resort….

No one wants to do this, but if you have a particular chewy puppy (maybe it’s teething) or a really big dog whose manners are currently being worked on, you can put an ex-pen around your tree. This extra barrier could save the tree from your puppy or dog while they are learning self-control. You can add some pretty holiday fabric over it, so it looks less obtrusive. It’s not ideal, but it might be necessary temporarily if your dog has never experienced a tree.

These tips can help your whole family, dog included, have a happy and safe holiday season

Keep Your Dog Safe During a Bushfire

Keep Your Dog Safe During a Bushfire

Every summer we deal with the same threat: bushfires. They are just a fact of life. And if you have animals, being prepared for a bushfire involves extra planning. Remember, these fires can sweep through in a matter of minutes – when the threat is upon you it’s too late. Having a well-rehearsed plan and being prepared before they happen is the only way to ensure your entire family is safe, including the dog. Here are some tips to make sure your dog is safe during a bushfire.

Pre-Planning

Keeping your dog safe during a bushfire starts with pre-planning! Here are the things you need to have in place to evacuate quickly.

Have a pet emergency kit that includes first aid items, extra collar, leash, medicine your dog takes, enough food and water to last a few days at least, water and food bowls, towels/blanket, and any important vet records, including name and number of your vet.

Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with ID in case they run. Things can happen quick, and the sounds of sirens and helicopters can frighten some dogs enough that they run. Microchips are good as well, but not everyone knows to scan, so it’s good to have both to give your dog the best chance of getting home.

Having an extra crate that is ready to throw in the car is great too. This way, your dog will be secured and you don’t have to worry about them jumping out of the car and taking off out of fear when you open the door. During fire season, you may want to just keep the crate in the back of the car if you can, so it’s always ready to go.

Know where you can go. During an emergency, pet-friendly lodging may be hard to find. Know the places that are normally out of fire danger and keep the list in your pet emergency kit. Or, if you have family, make sure they are fine if you show up with your dog(s) in the case of an emergency.

If you are gone during the day, at work, etc. talk to neighbors about your pets – are they able to evacuate yours in case something happens while you are gone? They may not be able, but it’s good to check.

This type of pre-planning is good to have for any disaster, not just a bushfire. Being ready to leave with your pet and having the essentials on hand is always a good idea.

During Bushfire Season

Monitor the fires so you are ready to leave as soon as there is any danger. Leaving early helps you avoid the chaos of the firefighters, can be less stressful on your dog and helps ensures you find a pet-friendly place to stay before they fill up. You can hear updates on the radio or on your rural fire service website for your area.

Keep your dog close. They can sense danger before you can and may get agitated and frightened. Leaving them outside may cause them to run away or not come to you when it’s time to evacuate. Having them in the house near you will make it easier to have a quick departure. Providing a cover crate for them to retreat into, in a quiet and dark location, can help them relax.

Limit time outside. Even if your area has been deemed “safe,” the air quality can be significantly compromised during bushfire season. If authorities are warning about low air quality, limit how much time your dog spends outside. Short potty breaks and no long walks. Low air quality can cause coughing, sneezing, vomiting, loss of appetite, and inflammation of the eyes, mouth and airway. Puppies, sick and/or senior dogs, and brachycephalic dogs (pugs, bulldogs, etc.) are going to be more affected by low air quality.

Once evacuated and safe, check your dog for any signs that they may need vet attention: burns if they were outside, signs of air quality sickness or smoke inhalation.

Remember to practice your evacuation – you may be surprised at how long it takes you to pack up your family and your dog! Following these tips can help your entire family, including the dog, survive a bushfire or other emergency.