How to keep a dog away from the christmas tree

How to Dog-Proof Your Christmas Tree

By: Chewy EditorialUpdated:

Trimming the tree is one of those essential Christmas traditions that makes the holiday season so special. Unfortunately, dogs and Christmas trees are not always the best—or safest—combination. The tree itself, as well as the surrounding Christmas decorations, can be dangerous and even deadly in some cases, according to vets and pet safety experts.

Of course, we want to share all the wonderfulness of the holiday season with our furry friends. Keep the magic in Christmas by dog-proofing the Christmas tree with dog-friendly decorations and by using physical barriers and training cues to keep your dog away from the Christmas tree.


Consider an Artificial Tree

“I don’t think there’s a specific type of tree that’s more safe or less,” says Jason Nicholas, BVetMed (Hons), president and chief medical officer of The Preventive Vet in Portland, Oregon, an author, educator and former ER vet. “You can make the case that an artificial tree is safer, because they’re not going to drop needles, and they don’t need the water in the base.”

A dog who ingests fallen needles is at risk for “digestive punctures,” and chemicals added to tree water can prove “lethal” to pets, he says. If you do opt for a live tree, be sure to keep it well-watered to prevent the needles from falling off—but skip the additives, Dr. Nicholas advises. A decorative Christmas tree stand cover can block access to the water completely and add some style to your setup.


Stabilize the Tree

No matter what type of tree you choose, make sure it is stable enough so your dog can’t accidentally knock it over.

“You want to make sure you have a really sturdy tree base, so it isn’t leaning,” Dr. Nicholas says. “You could further secure it by tying it to the wall, or the ceiling … or even use your furniture to your advantage. If you have a bigger dog, you can sort of put the tree behind the couch in a little corner.

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Section Off the Space

Even if you don’t want to tuck your tree behind the sofa, you have options for how to keep a dog away from the Christmas tree. The simplest, perhaps, is a pet gate.

A Christmas tree dog fence or gate with vertical slats, like Primetime Petz 360 Configurable Gate with Door, rather than horizontal ones, will be the most effective, says Arden Moore, founder of The Pet Health and Safety Coach in Dallas, Texas.

“Depending on the size of the tree and the weight of a dog, a tree can get knocked over on the dog,” she explains, emphasizing the need to keep dogs away from Christmas trees. “There could be a limb injury, sprain or a fracture. If you have a little Shih Tzu and an 8-foot tree, who’s going to win?”

A Christmas tree dog fence, such as Arf Pets Free-Standing Walk-Through Wood Dog & Cat Gate, can help keep your pet away from both the tree and all the breakable ornaments, gifts and even the water that can pose a risk to dogs, agrees Francine Coughlin, CPDT-KA, IAABC, a dog trainer and behavior consultant who founded Bark N Roll in Reading, Massachusetts. She also suggests keeping an unsupervised dog away from the tree by simply closing the whole room off with a baby or pet gate or closing a door if available.


Train Your Dog to Stay Away from the Tree

Coughlin teaches a “place cue,” essentially training the dogs to go to a certain spot or mat when asked, even with the enormous distraction of a “giant blinking tree in your living room.”

“You would teach them to go do a down, stay—go to your place,” she says.

Get step-by-step instructions to train your dog to settle on a mat.

Coughlin also allows the dogs to initially “check it out” and sniff the tree.

“I don’t want to punish them for being exploratory, but I want to call them away before they try to jump at the tree or tear apart the gifts,” she says.

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Use Dog-Safe Tree Decorations

So, what are the best decorations for a dog proof Christmas tree? The answer can vary, depending on each individual dog.

“You’ll know what your dog’s kryptonite is. You might need to forgo certain types of decorations,” Coughlin says. “It’s their home, too, so I would take that into consideration when decorating my tree.”

Plushies, for example, might be a safe option, says Dr. Nicholas, or they might just look like a chew toy to your pet.

Plastic ornaments are less breakable, and plastic hooks or twist ties are a good replacement for metal hooks, he says.

Christmas Tree Decorations to Avoid

Dogs and Christmas trees don’t always mix, and the safety hazards don’t end at the tree itself. Plenty of festive décor can be hazardous to dogs, Dr. Nicholas says. These include:

  • Anything edible, including chocolate, which is toxic to dogs
  • Glass
  • Bells
  • Metal hooks
  • Strings of popcorn (the string, if swallowed, can cause severe intestine issues)
  • Salt dough ornaments (which can cause salt poisoning in dogs)
  • Tinsel

Candy canes or other items made with xylitol, a sugar substitute, are another hidden holiday danger. “For dogs, it is ridiculously toxic,” Dr. Nicholas says.

Moore suggests decorating with Christmas cards and putting the most fragile and breakable ornaments on display out of dogs’ reach. Christmas lights can cause a host of issues too, including fires and strangulation. Arden suggests coating them with petroleum jelly or a pet deterrent spray to discourage chewers. Fur Goodness Sake’s Anti-Chew Bitter Spray, for example, has a bitter apple taste to deter dogs from chewing and can be use on electrical cords. Fake candles make a festive alternative, she adds.


Delay Placing Gifts Around the Christmas Tree

Experts agree: Don’t set the gifts out until the last minute.

“I don’t put any presents under the tree until Christmas Eve or Christmas morning—that’s just way too tempting for my crew,” says Coughlin, who shares her home with several dogs. “I keep them completely out of reach.”

Keeping gifts hidden will save not only the presents but potentially also your pet’s life.

“Dogs can out-smell us,” says Arden, “so if your aunt left you a fruit cake or there’s that box of chocolate that you don’t know about, your dog knows it’s there.”

Don’t forget cleanup, too, reminds Dr. Nicholas. The remains of the unwrapping frenzy, from ribbons, ties and even wrapped treats, could wind up as a blockage or other intestinal disaster.  Have someone come through with a trash bag to collect the debris, he says.

No one wants to zap the fun out of the holidays, but taking a few preventative steps to create a dog-proof Christmas tree might end up saving the season.

“I love the holidays and my pets love the holidays,” Moore says. “I just want to make sure we’re not spending it at the pet ER.”

In some cases, that might mean skipping the Christmas tree altogether, especially if you have a new puppy or a particularly energetic dog, she adds.

“Do you want to end up at the pet emergency clinic because your dog has a cut paw or cuts to the mouth, or was drinking the water out of the tree stand, which can be deadly,” Moore says. “We have enough stress for the holidays. Why add to it?”

Read more:

  • Holiday Pet Safety: Pet Friendly Holiday Decorations
  • Pet Holiday Hazards: What Not to Feed Dogs
  • How to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree (or at Least Try to)

By: Rose Sala



How to Keep Dog Away from Christmas Tree This Holiday Season

Dogs are naturally drawn to the allure of Christmas trees, and that can get dangerous. There are a few things you can do: using training techniques, choosing specific Christmas trees, blocking them with pet gates, along with other ways and hacks on how to keep dog away from Christmas tree and other decorations.

Why Are Christmas Trees Dangerous for Dogs?

A Christmas tree by itself is not poisonous to dogs. What's more dangerous are the oils and needles of it, in case your pet swallows any of that. Oils may cause stomach upset, and needles may puncture a dog's digestive tract or become an obstruction.

Moreover, it's not just about the Christmas tree alone; decorations, lights, water, ornaments and gifts on and around the tree may be hazardous to dogs as well. Some dog owners still hang Christmas chocolate on the tree, which may fall down and then consumed by your pet.

Learning how to keep dog away from Christmas tree is more than just putting up a pet gate around the decoration. You need to keep the dog away from all aspects of the tree, including the ornaments, needles and the Christmas tree water.

RELATED: 22 Dos and Don'ts When Spending Christmas with Dogs

How to Keep Dog Away from Christmas Tree

1. Needles

Make sure that your dog doesn’t get their mouth close to the fallen Christmas tree needles. If a dog chews on or swallows them, your pet may be in danger, since needles are not digestible and are mildly toxic to dogs. The degree of problems that can ensue depends on your dog’s size and on the number of needles ingested.

Oils of fir tree needles can irritate a dog's stomach and mouth, and cause excessive drooling and vomiting, which can present a real danger to the puncture of gastrointestinal tract.

Call your vet immediately if you know that your dog has ingested needles from your Christmas tree or if you spot some of these symptoms in your pet.

2. Artificial Christmas Trees

There are some artificial Christmas trees are pet-friendly and less dangerous to dogs.

However, most types of fake Christmas trees aren't much better than real ones. In fact, if yours isn't a dog-friendly fake Christmas tree, then you have to be even more careful.

Artificial Christmas trees can become more brittle as they get older. Oftentimes, small pieces of aluminum or plastic break off the tree, and if that stuff is swallowed by your dog, they can cause an intestinal blockage, or at least cause a slight mouth irritation.

3. Ornaments and Gifts

There are dangerous decorations that will be around your home on Christmas. Ornaments can be a hazard for a dog, especially edible ones which attract a dog. Your pet may knock the tree over in their attempts to get to the ornament.

Avoid edible ornaments altogether, and skip glass ornaments, too. The latter ones may get broken and cut your dog’s paws. If a dog somehow manages to eat them, that will cause intestinal blockage or cut a dog's intestines.

Some Christmas tree ornaments can even be deadly to dogs due to the chemicals used in their manufacturing. It's best to use natural and non-toxic decorations made out of wood, fabric, even pine cones, or other pet-friendly decorations.

Finally, keep the area around the Christmas tree clean and free of any discarded strings, small toys or ribbons. If swallowed, they can cause a bowel obstruction, or become a choking hazard. That's especially true of small Christmas toys, or their pieces.

4. Water

Christmas tree water, which is meant to keep the tree fresh, can poison your dog.

Generally, it's not just plain water; it's full of pesticides, fertilizers, preservatives and other agents like aspirin. A popular additive in tree water is Plantabbs Prolong Tree Preservative. These things are added there to keep the tree alive for longer. To keep your dog safe and away from this water, use a covered tree water dish.

5. Lights

Christmas tree lights can also be dangerous for a dog, so don't string the bottom of the tree with them. Some get extremely hot and may burn your dog.

A dog chewing on cords or lights will result in mouth burns or light electric shock. Your pet might even get pulmonary edema from chewing on a wire, which can be lethal.

Instead of hanging them loosely, tape the cords firmly to the wall or floor, and regularly check on them for chew marks. For some parts, you can use cord protectors.

6. Tinsel

Avoid decorating your Christmas with tinsel. It's one of the easiest things for a dog to get to, and that can be dangerous.

If your dog swallows tinsel, it can lead to blocked intestines or cause diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite and subsequent weight loss. Also, depending on the size, surgery might be needed to remove the tinsel from a dog’s stomach.

Secure Your Christmas Tree Properly

Many factors can play a role in your dog’s level of interest in the Christmas tree, and especially in the potential mischief that might ensue. Age, temperament and energy level will all determine how much trouble a dog can cause, as well as your dog's size.

Use a Gate or Small Fence

Preventing your dog from getting close to the Christmas tree altogether is key. It's best to put the Christmas tree in a room you can isolate from the rest of the house. Another way is to install a pet gate in the doorway. Also, when you cannot supervise your dog, confine them in a crate or a separate room.

Another solution is to use a low-lattice fencing around the Christmas tree, or a cute picket fence, like this one. That way your dog is able to look at the tree, but they won’t knock it over.

Pick the Best Location

The location of the Christmas tree matters and depends on your dog’s size. If you have a miniature dog or a puppy, then put the tree on a table or a stool. That way your dog cannot reach the Christmas tree. However, this won't work for very tall trees.

Secure the Christmas Tree to the Wall or Ceiling

You may need to secure the Christmas tree firmly so the dog can’t tip it over. Most recommend to secure it to the wall or even a ceiling using an eye bolt, or a molly hook, together with a strong fishing wire.

Choose a location that prevents your pooch from seeing the “tie down”, like the wall behind the tree. A dog will not be able to do anything about the tree, and you won't have to worry about your pet tipping the tree over.

Even if you can’t secure the tree, pick a location where the Christmas tree will stay standing even after an “attack” by your pup. Standing it in the very corner of a room may be a good idea, and it will also be a low traffic area where your dog won’t usually run.

Additional Christmas Tree Safety Tips for Dogs

The best tip on how to keep dog away from Christmas tree is to supervise your pet and redirect the dog's behavior. If you see that your dog is sniffing the tree, tell your pet “No”, call them to you and then reward them with a tasty treat for being obedient.

Another thing you can do is to spray the lower branches of a Christmas tree with either a safe dog repellent, or a homemade solution of 3 oz. of water mixed with five drops of cinnamon essential oil. Do this twice a week so it's always effective. A dog will stay from the Christmas tree since they won't like the strong smells of cinnamon.

A dog’s sense of smell can be used as a weakness in other ways, too. For example, you can use Vicks Vapo Rub, which has a strong menthol smell, and will work as a repellent for a dog. Dip some cotton balls in the ointment and put them in the lower branches of the Christmas tree.

Put aluminum foil on the floor around the tree. Puppies in particular will avoid the area because they don’t like walking on a surface that they consider odd or weird.

If not foil, then use a soft “tacky mat” like this one to keep dog away from Christmas tree. Most pets don’t like to walk on sticky surfaces. An alternative similar option is a product called Sticky Paws which is basically a double-sided tape that you can apply to carpets under and around a Christmas tree.

If your dog is somewhat shy, hang loud bells on your Christmas tree. This will probably spook your pet and they will not think about going near the tree again. Even if your pooch isn’t so easily scared, hang those bells anyway to hear when your pet is touching the tree.

READ NEXT: Top 22 Safe Christmas Dog Toys

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Boss, can I eat the Christmas tree?

Christmas tree is a joy not only for children and adults, but also for pets. Just imagine how a dog feels at the sight of a huge decorated tree? Iridescent toys, flashing garlands, fragrant branches - yes, you just want to eat the whole Christmas tree! And pets very often try! Read our article on how to protect a Christmas tree from a dog.

1. Artificial or real?

If you have a dog at home, an artificial Christmas tree is more suitable for you. Firstly, an artificial Christmas tree is not as pleasant to chew on as a natural one, and the dog will not want to eat it. Secondly, it stands stronger, while the living one is most often installed in a bucket of water. Thirdly, artificial spruces do not crumble and do not stain the dog's coat with resin. Fourthly, they can be dropped as much as you like without much harm to the appearance.

A live Christmas tree always attracts the attention of a dog. Fragrant twigs and the trunk are simply impossible not to gnaw! But a spoiled Christmas tree in this case is far from the worst thing. Sharp needles and branches can injure the dog's mouth, and once in the body, lead to intestinal obstruction.

2. Where to put the Christmas tree?

It is better to install a small Christmas tree in a place inaccessible to the dog. For example, on a high shelf. Then all problems will be solved! The big one is a little more difficult. First of all, take care of a solid foundation so that the tree stands firmly. The most suitable place for a Christmas tree is the corner of the room. It is desirable that there are no objects nearby that, in the event of a fall, the tree can touch and damage.

An original, but very nice place to install is a covered balcony. Decorated Christmas tree behind glass looks very beautiful. And most importantly, the tree (and the dog) is completely safe!

Many creative lovers put the Christmas tree in a cage (aviary) or wrap it with tape. Others don't even buy a tree, but simply paint it on the wall or create an appliqué. Let your imagination run wild: maybe she will tell you a useful and original solution on how to protect the Christmas tree from the dog.

3. Choose unbreakable toys.

The Christmas tree, which will be in the access zone for the pet, is very important to decorate correctly. Do not buy glass toys: they break easily and crumble into small, sharp fragments. But textile, paper and wooden toys are a great option. Often they look even more comfortable than glass ones. With such toys, the Christmas tree will not suffer, even if the dog drops it several times.

Christmas tree rain is the main enemy for pets. Having played with a shiny decoration, the dog may accidentally swallow it. And here you can not do without the help of a veterinarian.

4. What about garlands?

If desired, the garland can be used, but only if it is not damaged and not glued with electrical tape. It is better to wrap the tree trunk tightly with it. If the garland hangs freely from the branches and dangles, the dog will definitely pull on it.

Turn off lights when you leave or go to bed.

5. Decorate the Christmas tree while the dog is not looking.

In any case, the dog will show attention to the tree. Especially if you hang toys and garlands right in front of her eyes. Interesting shiny jewelry in the hands of the owner is already regarded as an invitation to play. Not to mention the tree itself, which the dog associates with one big stick! Most likely, you will not even have time to hang all the toys - as the tree will already be on the floor. To moderate the interest of the pet, it is better not to install and decorate the Christmas tree with him.

6. We scare away from the Christmas tree!

If your dog keeps trying to eat the Christmas tree or toys, try using a repellent spray. You can buy it at any pet store. Just process the Christmas tree and follow the result. Do not overdo it and do not spray all the walls, otherwise the dog will not enter the room at all!

And one more trick: put an object by the Christmas tree that your pet avoids. Usually it's a vacuum cleaner! The dog will try to stay away from him, and therefore from the tree.

Decorating a Christmas tree with cotton wool and candles is dangerous! A dog can eat cotton wool, and then intestinal obstruction is guaranteed. Candles are a real fire hazard. Be careful!

7. Give new toys!

New toys, exciting games with the owner, fun walks will help divert the attention of the dog from the Christmas tree. Almost all dogs enjoy chewing toys with treats more than Christmas trees. Active walks will allow you to direct energy in the right direction, so that upon arrival home, a happy pet will start not for destruction, but for rest.

8. Practice the command "No!"

The ban on approaching the Christmas tree is another reason to work out the “No!” command. Dog training is considered effective when the pet follows the rules both under the supervision of the owner and without. If you told the dog that you can’t touch the Christmas tree, and he didn’t touch it even while you were away from home - congratulations, you have reached your goal!

How do you reconcile a Christmas tree and a dog? Tell me!

Other related articles

New Year without the hassle!

Holiday with a pet.

What to give a dog and a cat for the New Year?

Gift ideas.

Digestive disorders in dogs

On the causes and prevention of digestive disorders.

How to wean a dog to mark and write everywhere? Why do dogs mark?

Have you ever rolled your eyes at your dog's habit of urinating on every stone and tree while walking? Perhaps this annoys or embarrasses you, especially when she marks something less appropriate. Is there anything you can do to influence this behavior, which is called "tagging the territory"?

Why does the dog mark?

If a dog marks his territory with a small amount of urine, it is probably nothing more than a way to greet his relatives who may be nearby. This is an absolutely normal instinctive way of communication of this species of animals - they have been doing this since long ago, when people began to track their behavior. In addition to the desire to communicate, there are several other reasons why they mark.

  • The dog has not been neutered. Unneutered males are much more likely to mark their territory than spayed dogs. According to one study published in the journal Animal Behavior, "status dogs" mark their territory more often than dogs with low status. So maybe your favorite is the king of the hill! Although this problem is more common in males, unneutered females also sometimes mark their territory, especially before or during estrus. 9009eight
  • The dog is overly excited. New and exciting social situations can make your pet want to mark everything in his field of vision. Reasons for over-tagging also include being around a dog in heat, or even just visiting a home or park where other animals have tagged before.
  • "Someone was here." A dog can consider his territory not only his house and yard, but also the route along which he walks, as well as other houses or parks where he often visits. If another dog has recently visited your pet's "territory", he may feel the need to mark that territory for self-affirmation.
  • The dog has health problems. You might think that your pet is marking territory, but the cause of increased urination may be due to medical reasons. Conditions that can cause frequent urination in dogs include urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, and drug reactions. You should go to the veterinarian to rule out these problems before trying to wean the animal from marking.

It is also worth noting that some dogs urinate frequently for reasons unrelated to tagging, including conditions such as obedience urination and separation anxiety. Or is it just illiterate home training. Understanding the causes of a dog's behavior is a critical step to addressing related problems.

Can this be stopped?

Although dogs' habit of marking territory is a natural behavior inherited from their ancestors, in today's world you may be annoyed or embarrassed by such a habit. How can you wean a pet from this habit, or at least reduce his desire to mark? The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine offers several recommendations.