13 Tips for Dog Proofing Your Christmas Tree
Many people love decorating a Christmas tree for the holidays. If you're a pet owner, setting up that tree may be a little more complicated than it is for everyone else. Dogs love to play with trees, pull on ornaments, and get at the Christmas gifts tucked underneath. Although dog proofing a Christmas tree isn't nearly as complicated as cat proofing a tree can be, you still want to take these 13 steps to protect your Christmas tree from your dog.
1. Give Your Dog Time to Get Used to Your Tree
Before you decorate your tree, leave the bare tree sitting in your house for a few days.1 This gives your dog a chance to get used to it and see it as a normal addition to the home. Your pup might be less likely to mess with the ornaments and lights if he doesn't see the tree as unusual.
2. Consider Crate Training
In some cases, a crate could be the answer if you need to keep your tree out in an accessible area and also want to keep your curious dog safe. When you can't supervise your dog, such as when you're away at work, consider crate training your dog so you can keep her in a crate while you're gone to keep her safe. Just make sure you include a thick crate pad, so she's comfortable while you're gone.
3. Hang Fragile Ornaments Out of Reach
Dogs may want to play with ornaments that hang on lower branches, or they might even accidentally knock them off with their abundantly happy, wagging tails. Rather than wait for disaster to strike, simply hang your more fragile ornaments higher on the tree. Or leave them off the tree entirely and hang them on a wreath that is out of your dog's reach.
4. Cover Cords and Keep Lights Out of Reach
Use covers on your cords to prevent your dog from getting hold of them and chewing on them, causing a danger to him and a fire hazard to your household. Also, make sure you keep the strings of lights out of your dog's reach.
5. Keep Food and Toxic Items Off the Tree
Some people get really creative with their tree decorating and add candy canes to their tree or garland made of popcorn. Those can be nice, but the smell of food can be extra tempting for your pup, so it's best to avoid these altogether. Try to stay away from any scented decorations too, since these might have ingredients that are toxic to your pup. And watch out for any holiday plants that might be poisonous to your fur baby.
6. Distract Your Dog from the Tree
Try giving your pup tempting items to distract him from the Christmas tree. For example, give your dog some treats or a chew toy when you're spending time near the tree, so he has something to hold his attention instead of the tree. A tempting bed for him to cuddle in, like the Self-Warming Lounger Sleeper, might also draw his attention away from the tree, especially on colder nights. For puppies, consider the Mother's Heartbeat Heated Puppy Pet Bed with Bone Pillow. The soothing heartbeat sound might attract your puppy away from the tree.
7. Avoid Using Tinsel or Curly Ribbons
Pet-safe garland is preferable to tinsel. Tinsel can be dangerous to pets, including your fur baby. If eaten, tinsel can block your dog's intestines and possibly require surgery. Curly ribbon on gifts can pose the same risk, so avoid those too.
8. Watch for Pine Needles
If your dog tends to eat or chew on pine needles, you need to be extra careful. Pine needles can pierce your dog's intestines or cut his mouth. In this case, you might need an artificial tree. Even if your dog doesn't love chewing on needles, sweep up the ones that fall every day.
9. Keep Your Dog Away from the Tree Water
If you're using a live tree, keep your dog away from the tree water. The preservatives in the water could be toxic to your dog. Cover the water so she can't get to it.2 You might want to wrap the top of the bowl with foil or put an e-collar around the bowl to prevent access. You can even find Christmas tree water bowls that are pet-safe and come with covers.
10. Secure Your Tree
Whether you're using a live tree or an artificial tree, you want to secure your Christmas tree and make sure it's stable. A happy-go-lucky pup could accidentally knock your tree over and get injured in the process. You might need to secure the tree to a wall, so it doesn't fall.
11. You Might Need a Gate for Extra Curious Dogs
In some circumstances where dogs simply won't leave a tree alone, you might want to consider setting up a baby gate or a wood gate with mesh to prevent access. This won't work for every dog since larger ones might be able to jump over the gate. As an alternative, you might want to put the tree in a closed room that's beautifully decorated, but your dog isn't allowed to visit unsupervised.
12. Don't Use Metal Hooks
Many people commonly hang their ornaments on trees with metal hooks. If you have a pup, you want to avoid using these. Even an ornament that's hanging higher on the tree might fall, bringing the metal hook within your dog's reach.
13. Put the Gifts Under the Tree at the Last Minute
If your dog is extra curious, you might want to wait until right before you're opening gifts to line them up under the tree. Inquisitive dogs will likely want to play with packages.
Curious dogs can get into Christmas trees and cause a lot of problems, even endangering themselves. That's why it's best to be proactive and do everything you can to protect your Christmas tree from your dog. These 13 steps for dog proofing your tree may take some time, but they're worth the peace of mind of knowing your pup is safe during the holiday season.
1. Geier, Elisabeth. "8 Tip to Dog-Proof Your Christmas Tree (and Tree-Proof Your Dog)." Rover.com, https://www.rover.com/blog/dog-proof-christmas-tree-safety-in/.
2. Rosenthal, Cathy. "Christmas Pet Tip: Keep Them Away from Christmas Tree Water." My San Antonio, 8 December 2009, https://blog.mysanantonio.com/animals/2009/12/christmas-pet-tip-keep-them-away-from-christmas-tree-water/.
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