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

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