How to mix your dog and Christmas tree — safely
December 17, 2013
By Denise Stringfellow
NEW — 1:50 p.m. Dec. 17, 2013
Tis the season to enjoy a fresh, fragrant Christmas tree in your home.
Many dogs are naturally attracted to this new, intriguing arrival, but Christmas trees are not always pet friendly. By taking a few essential precautions, you can be sure that both you and your dog will enjoy Christmas at home around your beautiful tree … and not instead at the vet’s office.
- Use only plain water in your tree stand if your dog has access to it. Preservatives added to keep a tree fresher longer can be poisonous to your pet.
- Pick up any dropped needles. Dogs who chew or swallow fir needles can have a hard time digesting them, and in extreme cases, may experience punctures or a blockage.
- Hang your ornaments and lights on higher branches and leave the lower branches undecorated, so your pet isn’t tempted to chew on lights and low-hanging ornaments.
- Avoid using tinsel — it is very enticing to dogs! If swallowed, it can get entwined in your dog’s digestive system; surgery is sometimes required to remove it.
- Avoid using those little wire hooks to hang your ornaments — they are about as dangerous as fish bones. Use yarn, ribbon or other string instead.
- Use a portable exercise pen to either contain your pet … or encircle the tree itself. This is especially important if you have a small puppy, which will be nearly impossible to keep from investigating and exploring an unsupervised, decorated tree.
- Practice and play-train in the tree room so that you have more control of your dog around the tree, and so that you can be more exciting to your dog than the tree. Practice calling your dog to “come here” away from the tree. If you have a “leave it” command, ask for that now and again. Always reward all successful responses with treats, praise, a game or even a walk outside.
In general, the more you engage your dog with you in the room with the Christmas tree, the less the tree itself will be enticing to your dog. Enjoy your tree, your dog and your wonderful relationship together.
Denise Stringfellow is head of coaching and training at Riverdog Canine Coaching in Issaquah. Reach her at 427-5958.