The holiday season has arrived and many of us will participate in the Christmas spirit by decorating our homes. The central holiday decoration that dominates most of our homes is the Christmas tree.
A puppy or a young dog does not understand the symbolism of the Christmas tree once a year. They view the Christmas tree as a huge giant stick in the house and it even has shiny balls hanging on it! The cool factor of their humans has just shot through the roof in their eyes.
The most obvious thing about Christmas tree safety is that you do not want your dog or puppy to knock it over, chew it, pee on it or destroy the ornaments that were hung with care. There is also the concern of ingesting things such as the tree itself, metal ornament hooks, broken glass, or electrocution from chewing the wires from the lights.
It’s your pup’s first Christmas and it’s up to you to monitor and direct your dog’s natural curiosity about the holiday decorations and festivities into a positive holiday month verses one filled with destruction, chaos and health issues.
The best all around solution is to train your dog. This is the most important thing you can do for your dog’s safety and confidence. If you establish some holiday boundaries this season, they will carry over into the seasons to come.
Put your dog’s leash on and practice some basic obedience commands near the tree. Allow him to get close enough to sniff it, but if he tries to chew it or jump on it, give a quick correction with a firm “no” command. If your dog can do a “down/stay” utilize this command in short intervals next to the tree and do not forget to praise for a job well done. Your goal is to teach your young canine friend that their interest in the tree brings negative associations with it and ignoring the tree provides positive attention, praise and rewards. Your dog wants to please you and will quickly learn to seek out the positive verses the negative.
Below are 10 more holiday proofing tips to protect your tree, your home and your pet:
- Use clear fishing line to attach the tree to the ceiling and prevent it from being knocked over.
- Use plastic hooks or ties instead of wire ones to attach ornaments.
- Place breakable or sentimental ornaments towards the top of the tree.
- Supervise your dog around the tree at all times. If Fido is tempted by the tree you will be nearby to correct him.
- Confine your dog from the tree if you are not home are able to supervise him. If your dog cannot access the tree, they cannot make bad decisions.
- Place candles high and out of the way of inquiring noses and wagging tails.
- Plant Dangers: Most Christmas plants are poisonous to dogs and cats. Keep poinsettia’s, Christmas cactus and mistletoe out of your dog’s reach. Better yet, keep them entirely out of your home.
- Food Dangers: Chocolate is poisonous to dogs and poultry bones can splinter causing major intestinal problems. Keep candy and snacks out of your dogs reach and keep an eye on food left out on the table or kitchen counter.
- Treats: Just because it is the time of year to “give” do not go overboard and let your dog have a whole package of treats.
- People food: Foods that your dog is not used to can upset their stomach and disrupt your festivities. The last thing you want on Christmas is a family member with diarrhea or is throwing up.
Plan ahead, be proactive and use common sense when it comes to the holidays and your puppy. To all my fellow pet owners around the world; have a safe, abundant and blessed holiday!