Dog-Proof Christmas Tree Ideas:

How to Keep Your Tree Safe from Your Pup and Your Pup Safe from Your Tree

These dog-proof Christmas tree ideas are tailor-made for you if the worry of your dog toppling over the tree and causing a festive fiasco, or even worse, getting hurt by the tree or decorations, has been dampening your holiday spirit.

Coton de Tulear playing with ornaments on Christmas tree

One of my most memorable Christmas dog disasters happened many years ago when I was visiting friends during the holidays. While we were catching up and not paying attention, my dog, Boomer, decided to pee on their Christmas tree.

OMG - I was mortified! Luckily, he was a little dog, and only minor cleanup was required. And it was hard to get mad at the little guy since in his world trees were meant to be peed on.

I learned a valuable lesson that day - NEVER leave dogs unattended around a Christmas tree if they are not 100% trained. 

These days, I have a small countertop tree. There is no way my dog, Lucy, would be able to resist a shiny, colorful tree. And don’t even get me started on the cat! 😊

Fortunately, there are several dog-proof Christmas tree ideas that can help keep your dog safe, tree standing tall, and your decorations intact.

Choosing the Safest Christmas Tree: Real vs Artificial

When it comes to the holiday season, decorating your home with a Christmas tree is a beloved tradition. However, if you have a curious dog, it's important to understand the potential risks and take necessary precautions to keep your pup safe.

When choosing a Christmas tree that is dog-proof, there are a few things you need to consider. One of the biggest decisions is whether you’re going to get a real tree or an artificial one.

  • While a real Christmas tree may look and smell better, it can pose a risk to your dog if they ingest any needles or branches. It’s not that the needles are toxic, but they can irritate their mouth and stomach. 
  • If you choose a real tree, consider getting a medium-sized tree that is too large for your dog to knock over but not so large that it takes up too much space in your home. 
  • Consider getting a tree with soft needles that are less likely to injure your dog if they accidentally brush up against it. Some good options include fir, spruce, and pine trees.
  • If you're concerned about your dog knocking over a traditional tree, consider using a non-traditional tree, such as a wall-mounted tree or a small tabletop tree.
  • Artificial trees can also pose risks, particularly if they are made with toxic materials. Be sure to read the labels and choose non-toxic options to keep your dog safe.
  • If you decide to go with an artificial tree, make sure it is sturdy and has a wide base to prevent your dog from tipping it over. 

Decorating with Fido in Mind: Dog-Safe Ornaments and More

Coton de Tulear jumping on Christmas tree

Choosing the right tree is just the beginning. Think of all the decorations that could be destroyed or become a hazard to your dog. Tinsel, fragile glass ornaments, garland, candy, electric lights, heavy tree toppers, and candles can be so tempting to your dog. Yikes!

Tips to dog-proof your tree decorations:

  • Use shatterproof Christmas ornaments: Inquisitive pups can easily knock down glass ornaments, leading to breakage and injury. It's a good idea to opt for shatterproof ornaments made of plastic or other durable materials.
  • Location. Location. Location: If you have fragile ornaments with sentimental value, keep them high on the tree where your dog can’t get to them. 
  • Avoid edible ornaments: While hanging edible ornaments like candy canes or holiday cookies may be tempting, they can pose a choking hazard to your dog. Stick to non-edible decorations instead.
  • Be careful with food decorations: If you're using food decorations like popcorn garlands or cranberry strings, hang them high enough so your dog can't reach them. Also, avoid using chocolate or other toxic foods as decorations. 
  • Avoid using tinsel: Tinsel can be tempting for dogs to play with and can cause serious health problems if ingested. 
  • Don't leave Christmas presents under the tree: Dogs may be curious about the gifts under the tree and could accidentally ingest wrapping paper or other items. Keep presents out of reach until Christmas morning, especially if they contain anything harmful to dogs, such as chocolate or batteries. If presents under the tree are a meaningful tradition for you, don’t give your dog access to the tree.
  • Go easy on the fake snow: According to the Animal Poison Line, fake snow is not toxic, but can cause gastrointestinal upset if ingested. And a dog who is vomiting or has diarrhea is the last thing you want on Christmas Eve!   
  • Secure lights: Christmas lights make the holiday festive and fun, but can pose hazards if not secured properly. Secure your light cords to the tree or wall to prevent your dog from pulling them down and getting tangled. 
  • Electrical cords can also be a hazard. Puppies especially are likely to chew on them, which can result in electrical shock or even a fire hazard. Keep cords hidden and out of reach, or use cord protectors to deter your dog from chewing on them.
  • Clean up regularly: Vacuum up any fallen needles or debris to prevent your dog from ingesting them. Keep the area around the tree clear of any potential hazards. 

Creating a Safe Tree Base

Christmas Tree Base

When it comes to creating a safe base of the tree, you can do a few things to help prevent your dog from knocking the tree over or accessing any harmful items. 

  • Use a Sturdy Tree Stand: Place the base of your tree in a sturdy tree stand designed to hold the weight of your tree. Ensure the stand is wide and heavy enough to prevent your dog from knocking it over.
  • Keep your tree well-watered: A well-watered tree is less attractive to dogs, as the needles are less likely to fall off and make a mess. It also helps to keep the tree more stable, which can prevent it from toppling over if your dog tries to climb it. 
  • Cover the water: According to PetMD, you should cover the water because it may contain chemical preservatives from the tree that make the water poisonous for our dogs.
  • Use a Tree Skirt: A tree skirt can help cover the base of your tree and discourage your dog from getting too close to the tree and accessing any harmful items, such as ornaments or tinsel. Make sure the tree skirt is securely fastened to the tree stand to prevent your dog from getting underneath it. It also makes cleaning up any fallen needles or other debris easier.

Managing Access to the Tree

Christmas tree inside gate to prevent dog access

Managing access is key when it comes to keeping your dog away from the Christmas tree. This can be done in several ways, depending on your home setup and your dog's behavior.

  • Use a baby gate or pet gate to block off the area around the tree. Gates can be especially helpful if you have a younger dog who is still learning boundaries. Be sure to choose a sturdy gate that your dog won't be able to knock over or push aside.
  • Use an exercise pen or physical barrier around the tree. This can be a good solution if you have a larger dog who can jump over a gate. Make sure the pen or barrier is tall enough to prevent your dog from reaching the tree.
  • Use a crate if you have a particularly curious or mischievous dog. A large, roomy crate can be used to keep them away from the tree. This can be a good option if you need to leave your dog alone for a while and want to make sure they won't get into any trouble.

Training Your Dog

Coton de Tulear jumping on Christmas tree

Training your dog is an essential step in ensuring that your Christmas tree remains dog-proof. The best way to train your dog is to use positive reinforcement techniques. This means rewarding your dog for good behavior and ignoring or redirecting bad behavior.

One effective training cue is to use a command such as "leave it" when your dog shows interest in the tree. Consistency is key, so make sure to use the same command every time.

You can encourage good behavior by providing high-value treats when your dog follows commands or ignores the tree. This will reinforce positive behavior and make it more likely for your dog to repeat it in the future.

If your dog continues to show interest in the tree, a deterrent spray can be used as a last resort. However, it's important to note that these sprays should only be used as a temporary solution and never as a substitute for training.

Remember that even the best trained dogs may not be able to resist all the temptations of a bright and shiny Christmas tree, so supervision or using barriers is a must for the safety of your tree and your dog!

cartoon dog on top of Christmas tree

Is your Christmas tree dog-friendly?

Is your dog holiday-ready?

Be Safe. 

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