It’s that time of year again, will Santa paws be adding your dog on the naughty or nice list? To secure a place on the nice list it’s time to start thinking about how to puppy proof your Christmas tree, to avoid any festive fallouts!
If your dogs are anything like mine they are mesmerized by baubles and the shiny decorations on the Christmas tree but there are steps that we can all take to protect our dogs and keep our trees standing over the festive period.
In this blog I will be sharing some tips for the festive season including how to protect your Christmas tree and keep your dog safe.
With recent lockdowns your young puppy may not be really used to visitors, and this could be scary for them. Make sure they have a safe space they can retreat to, ask people to let them come to them instead of stroking them straight away, and prepare some extra tasty treats as soon as they see the people say yes and give them one. This will help give the people a positive association. Some dog’s find it easier to meet outside so perhaps do a small festive walk first.
If you’re having people around this Christmas keep on track with your management and your training. If you have a puppy make sure they have lots of sleep around Christmas because a tired puppy is a bitey puppy! Keep on track with training when you have visitors for example if you are training them not to jump up make sure your visitors are doing this too so you don’t undo the training.
Here’s my top tips to protect your dog and the Christmas tree below:
- Before you do the best bit, adding sparkly decorations to the tree, think about leaving it bare for a few days so that your dog gets used to having it in the house. They will be more likely to leave it alone once you add the Christmas spirit to it.
- You could consider tying your tree to the ceiling or wall to prevent it from falling over should your dog get too close. This is an extra security precaution to protect any injuries and to stop you from having to redo all of the hours you spent decorating the tree!
- Think about management, you might want to put a puppy pen around the Christmas tree to keep them away.
- Don’t have your dog in the room whilst you’re decorating the Christmas tree because it will be really exciting to them and they will wonder what you’re doing.
- Make up lots of chews and Kongs and put them in the room that the tree is in. Bring your dog in on the lead to use your management and direct them to the new and exciting toys and chews. So the tree becomes something that’s there but there’s other things to do in the room.
- Make sure all dangerous ornaments, decorations and baubles are way out of reach. Anything that’s small enough to fit in your dog’s mouth is a potential choking hazard so make sure these are on the top branches. Although icicles and chocolate decorations are festive fun, they won’t be very fun if your dog accidentally gets hold of one so think about your placements of decorations to keep your dog safe
- Hide all of the cords and wires, these can be extremely dangerous for your dog. Not only can their paws get tangled but if they love to chew there’s a risk of electrical shock! You could hide them off the floor and out of reach. Also avoid putting these on the lower branches.
- If your dog is scared of the tree have some tasty treats and every time your dog looks at the tree say yes and give them one, when your dog goes towards the tree say yes and give them a treat. On the other hand if your dog thinks the tree is the most exciting thing in the world. Reward them for calm behaviour. Work on teaching a settler, there are some tips for settling in this guide by the Blue Cross for Pets.
- And again reward what you like. Did your dog look at the tree without eating it?! Then reward that!
- If your Christmas tree is in water to keep it fresh make sure you cover it up. This can often have toxins in to help the tree stay alive longer, which could be really dangerous for your dog to consume.
- Have fun! It can seem like a long list of safety when you have a dog and a Christmas tree, but these are in place to make sure that you and your dog can enjoy Christmas without any accidents.
You could also think about treating your dog this Christmas with a festive treat. You’ve probably filled them with peanut butter (making sure there’s no xylitol in it) or dog treats, and maybe you’ve even frozen them before. But I bet you’ve never made your dog a Christmas Kong!
When introducing a new kong to your dog do so slowly and always ask your vet if you’re unsure.
When you’re ready to freeze it leave it for 3 – 4 hours in the freezer and then take it out and run it under a warm tap for a few seconds to make sure that their tongue doesn’t stick to it.
Please read this warning to take extra care with frozen Kongs.
A Christmas Kong is a Kong stuffed with festive treats and then frozen solid to create the pawfect Christmas day treat.
It’s so easy to do and your dog will love it! Here’s how…
In a bowl mix the following ingredients:
- One small boiled and mashed sweet potato
- 3 fresh, washed cranberries
- 1 plain, chopped green bean
- A few pieces of shredded turkey breast (no bone)
Next, take a small piece of turkey breast or green bean to plug the small hole at the top of the Kong. Then, fill with the Christmas Kong recipe! Place your Kong in the freezer overnight and on Christmas Day let your dog enjoy their tasty treat!
I’d love to see pictures of your pups by your tree! Please share them with me on Facebook @Pawsitivelypup