How to Dog-Proof Your Christmas Tree
We all want to take a cute photo of our pooch sitting in front of the Christmas tree! But as many pooch owners know, dogs and Christmas trees (along with their electric lights, baubles and tinsel) are not always a good combination!
However, you can definitely achieve that perfect image if you take the right precautions and ensure that you dog-proof your Christmas tree first.
It’s a fact that dogs love trees at any time of the year - and Christmas is no different! So if a tree suddenly appears inside their home - their curiosity may get the better of them - so you need to be prepared!
Here are things to consider and actions you can take to stop any tree-related messes this Christmas!
REAL OR ARTIFICIAL TREE?
Real Christmas Tree
Some of us love to have that evocative smell of pine in the home around Christmas! So if a real Christmas tree is a must, here are some things to bear in mind:
- Try to buy a tree that does not shed needles and has been freshly cut like a Nordmann Fir or a Norway Spruce. Although they are only mildly toxic, pine needles can be dangerous if ingested by your dog as they can cause irritation or damage their gastrointestinal tract.
- Purchase a tree that has been freshly cut to minimize needle drop.
- Keep it outside in the cool until you are ready to install it. Once it comes indoors it will start to dry out, so sit it in a bucket of water to delay this process. However, make sure your pooch cannot access, or drink, this water.
- Keep your tree away from any heat source, like a fire or radiator as this will also speed up the drying process.
- Regularly vacuum around the tree to get rid of any needle drop.
Artificial Christmas Tree
An artificial tree can be a good alternative to a real tree and you can use it year-on-year, but your pooch will probably still want to sniff and investigate it because it is a new addition to the home, albeit only for a short period of time. Make sure that your artificial tree has a strong, sturdy base so that it cannot be knocked over by your dog if they accidentally run into it.
SIZE AND LOCATION OF THE TREE
Consider bringing the tree into the house a couple of days before you decorate it. Leave it in its net but stand it in its final location; this will allow your dog to sniff and gradually get used to it before you release the branches from the net and add your baubles and decorations.
If you have a larger tree that is going to sit on the floor, make sure you position it away from any heat source and in a corner where it cannot be knocked over by any excited pooch, or any other party animals! If possible, anchor the tree to a wall to prevent any accidents; this can be done by fixing small cup hooks to the wall on either side of the tree and securing the tree with some clear fishing line.
Consider using a barrier to prevent your dog from getting close to the tree. This could be
- A doggie playpen or a baby-gate
- A tin foil tree skirt - some dogs don’t like the texture or sound of tin foil and will avoid walking on it
- A small tree could, of course, be put on top of a table or piece of furniture and out of reach of an inquisitive pooch.
- Remember that wagging tails can be a bit like a mini hurricane! Place any precious decorations on higher branches, to avoid them getting knocked off.
- If you have a small/medium size pooch, you may consider cutting off any branches that are lower than your dog’s height; this could help your dog walk under the branches, instead of knocking into them.
- Attach decorations securely to the branches with wire, rather than hooks and place them higher and towards the centre of the tree and not dangling at the end of the branches. You should also take extra care when securing decoration if your pooch is the sort of dog that likes to ingest things!
- Try to use shatterproof ornaments. Broken glass baubles can be very dangerous to any pet.
- Consider leaving tinsel off the tree and hanging it on the wall around picture frames etc. or avoiding it altogether. Tinsel can be dangerous if ingested by dogs.
- Wind or secure Christmas tree lights close to the branches and avoid any dangling wires that might tempt your pooch to chew.
- Instead of traditional electricity-powered Christmas lights, consider using battery-powered ones. These would be much safer and would avoid any wires extending from the tree to an electrical socket.
- If electrical lights are the way you decide to go, make sure all wires are protected by a cord and ensure they are all turned off when you are not in the room, or overnight.
- Cover up the base and secure any hanging wires, to prevent your dog from chewing them.
- Avoid using edible decorations; your dog will surely sniff these out if hanging from the tree. Some Christmas decorations, for example chocolate or candy, are toxic for dogs.
- Remember the same rules apply for Christmas decorations around the house too!
SUPERVISE AT ALL TIMES
“See a tree and have a pee!” - this is what your pooch might think! Dogs love to sniff and mark their territory, so installing a real tree in the home will make their nose and natural instincts work over time. It's important, therefore, that they are supervised at all times to avoid any incidents that could harm your dog (or pollute your tree!).
- Watch out for signs that they want to mark their territory (circling, sniffing etc.) and divert their attention by making a loud noise and take them outside.
- Never punish them, but remove them from the situation if an accident happens and clean the area thoroughly so they won’t be tempted to return.
- Make sure you do not leave your dog alone in the room, in case they become overly interested in the tree or its decorations when you are not there.
- Spend time sitting by the tree with your dog whilst stroking them, or giving them a treat for being calm; this can help them to accept the tree as part of their living space and become less inquisitive.
- Train them to settle somewhere away from the tree, such as in their den area or bed, or distract them by playing with a favourite toy.
- Reward them positively with a treat and make a fuss of them when they listen to your cue and come away from the tree.
Most importantly, keep your dog a part of the magic on Christmas and have them with you and the rest of the family throughout the various celebrations on Christmas Eve, Christmas morning - and of course the most exciting part for your dog, Christmas Lunch! Why not treat them to a few meat cuts and some new toys or presents to help them enjoy the festivities?
There are lots of changes in the home around Christmas, not just the Christmas tree! Often our routines are very different, we may have more visitors to the house and sometimes this can be challenging for a dog to cope with. Teaching your pooch to stay calm and using an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser will provide comfort and reassurance for your dog during the hectic festive period.
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