How to dog-proof your house this Christmas

Updated 29 May 2024
Read time: 11 mins
article author
Written by Corinne Homer

Christmas is a big deal, with a lot of sensory distractions - especially if you walk around on all fours and are only one-to-three feet tall. For our canine best friends, the sudden onset of sparkly decorations, piles of gifts, lots of noisy visitors and persistent new food smells can be very overwhelming. It’s understandable that your pooch may be a little harder to control at this time of year, and you might worry about their wellbeing.

Keeping your dog at their safest and calmest over the festive season is all down to simple preparation. By adding a few extra dog-proofing steps to your Christmas routine - from safely decorating your Christmas tree to making sure your dog is occupied at dinnertime - your pooch, and you in turn, can enjoy this hectic season more peacefully. 

Read on for our top tips for dog-proofing your house over Christmas…

Dog-proofing your Christmas tree

First up: the tree. You might not consider your dog’s relationship with your Christmas tree until they come ‘fur to fir’ with each other in a stand off - then the questions will arise. “Do dogs like Christmas trees?”, “Will a real Christmas tree poison the dog?!” and “Are fake Christmas trees toxic to dogs?”. 

Here are some dog-proof Christmas tree ideas to have pooch and tree living in harmony together until January.

What type of Christmas tree is the safest for dogs?

In general, dogs and Christmas trees should be kept a safe distance from each other, as whether it’s a natural or artificial tree you go for, there are various hazards.


A real tree

For some families, it’s hard to imagine going without a real tree. Luckily, the trees most often used at Christmas (fir, pine, spruce) are non-toxic to dogs, so it won’t be too much of an emergency if they have a curious chew. What could cause irritation or a tummy upset however, are the dropping pine needles or tree sap. 

For this reason, even though real Christmas trees are generally safe to dogs, it’s a good idea to clean up the needles regularly, always supervise your pooch around the tree, and keep them apart with a gate or tree barrier.


An artificial tree

What about a fake tree? Artificial trees are usually made of plastic, but dogs still may chew on them and cause harm to themselves and the tree itself. Some artificial trees also come with a frosting of fake snow, which can be toxic to dogs. Again, it’s best to be safe and keep a barrier between your tree and the dog(s) in your home to avoid any ingestion which could lead to stomach upsets or blockages.

Use a Christmas tree guard

Pets getting at the Christmas tree is an age-old problem (we all know that cats love to climb), so tree barriers are widely available. This is to protect your dog from your Christmas tree, and vice versa. Though Christmas tree guards for dogs are a great solution, do supervise your dog around the tree anyway, and don’t leave them in the same room when you go out.

Go bare 

When you first get out your Christmas tree, your dog may be very aware of its big, imposing and unfamiliar presence. Rather than intensify the strangeness by immediately hanging lights and sparkly objects from the tree, leave it bare for a few days. This gives your pooch time to get used to the change in environment, and will mean the transition to decorated tree will be less disruptive for them.

Dog-friendly decorating

When it comes to decorating, some pooch parents keep the bottom of the tree bare and only hang things on higher branches - or you can even get half trees for dogs that stay out of reach of paws, claws and gnashers. 

If you want to decorate the whole tree, avoid edible decorations like popcorn strings and chocolate baubles - they will simply be too tempting for a dog. Delicate baubles that may smash should also be avoided or hung elsewhere, and real garlands (ivy or holly, for instance) should also be draped higher up, not in dog’s reach. This is especially true when it comes to puppies and Christmas trees - at this age, they are prone to destruction!

Distracting your dog from the Christmas tree

It can help to have distractions around so that you can train your dog to stay away from the tree. A special Christmas-themed toy could help - that you get out at particular times of day when your dog seems their most troublesome. Festive treats for dogs can also be used as a good training tool. 

Keeping gifts under the tree

Piles of gifts are another evil temptation for a dog - most pooches know what gift wrapping is by a certain age and will be desperate to tear the boxes open. To save any tears or ruined surprises, it’s a good idea to keep gifts hidden away until Christmas morning. If this isn’t possible, at least keep them behind a barrier or gate.

Remember, you can keep dogs away from everyone’s gifts on Christmas day by giving them their own gifts to unwrap, like a Christmas hamper for dogs.


A golden Labrador with coloured Christmas trees around it, against a pale green background

Christmas decorations that are unsafe for dogs

You can keep fancy decorations out of reach of your pooch, but there are some items that are particularly unsafe. 

No open flames

Don’t keep any open flames where a pet could brush it or knock it over, such as Christmas candle displays or intricate light set-ups.

Electrical cords

Has your cheeky dog chewed the Christmas lights? More decorative lights means an abundance of electrical cords which dogs are often tempted to nibble. Keep an excess of cords neat, hidden or behind gates and barriers - as a safety precaution to your entire family as well as pets. 

Edible decorations

As mentioned, chocolate baubles or candy strings are too tempting for pets to have hanging around. If you have edible decorations, keep them out of sight (and smell!) of your dog, or perhaps bring them out purposefully at the time your family will eat them. 

Keep your dog safe from festive plants 

Christmas is the perfect time to adorn your rooms with festive foliage - holly, ivy, mistletoe - while still making sure they’re safe enough to be around a curious pooch. Though most Christmas plants are moderately safe and will only cause mild stomach upset, certain parts of plants (holly or mistletoe berries, for example) can be dangerous to dogs if munched in large amounts. 

So long as you supervise your dog around Christmas plants, hang them well out of reach and deter your pooch from eating any should they try it, they should be fine. So that you’re in the know about which plants are safest, here’s a rundown of which Christmas plants are toxic to dogs. 

If you’re uncertain about whether you can trust your dog around festive plants, it’s best to be on the safe side and go without. 


Two Basset Hound dogs, kissing under the mistletoe, against a pale green background

Keeping your dog away from the dinner table at Christmas

We tend to eat and eat at Christmas time - and our dogs will get FOMO. With so many delicious aromas and a sense of occasion around the dinner table, your pooch will make it known that they want to be involved. 

Here’s how to keep your dog occupied so you can enjoy your festive meal in peace.

  • If your dog usually has a spot they stay in at dinnertime, keep to routine. Changing it up now might just confuse them, and they’re more likely to behave themselves if they stick to what they know. 
  • If they’re disruptive while you’re eating, you could have your dog eat their meal in a different room so that you can enjoy dinner without interruption. If they’re calmer in the same room as you, try serving them their meal in a corner, and comfort them with toys or a treat.
  • Serve your pooch a special Christmas meal for dogs, don’t just scrape your leftovers into their bowl as it’s likely too fatty and sugary for them. Giving them the right food will ensure they won’t feel lethargic and have a tummy upset come the evening (even if you do!). Here’s a list of which Christmas foods dogs can safely eat. 
  • Tell your guests not to sneak any table scraps to your pooch - even when your dog is begging and being very cute.
  • Walk them just before. For maximum likelihood that your dog will chill out for a while during dinner, take them for an extra walk before you eat.

My dog gets excitable at Christmas - what do I do?

It makes sense that your dog might be a bit on edge at Christmas - it’s an exciting yet overstimulating time for most of us. By introducing new things slowly, reassuring your dog and keeping to a regular routine, they should handle the festive season relatively smoothly. Read on for some tips to keep your dog calm over Christmas

How to calm your dog down at Christmas

For a dog as cool as a Christmas cucumber

  • Keep to their regular routine
  • Reassure your pooch during overstimulating events
  • Occupy your dog with a few smartly dispensed, calming dog treats
  • Ensure your dog has a peaceful, quiet space to retreat to when necessary. 

Lots of visitors

Having more people in the house than usual can send your dog into overdrive. Be sure to take them into a calm, empty space if they need a moment, or distract them with toys and calming dog food.

Santa outfits

Dogs won’t always know that Santa is likely a family member dressed up - be ready to pull off a beard if necessary so your dog knows they needn’t be on guard!

Flashing lights and noisy environment

Some decorations are too noisy or flashy for certain dogs to deal with - for instance, a singing Santa figure could trigger a frightened barking fit. If this is the case, you might want to only set off these decorations for visitors when the dog is in another room, or switch them off most of the time if it causes too much stress to your pooch. 

Opening gifts

Giving your dog some calming dog treats or letting them unwrap their own Christmas gift for dogs will be a great distraction for your pooch during gift-giving time. This way your dog can feel they’re included without disrupting the fun. 

During Christmas dinner

To avoid your dog feeling left out, be sure your dog gets a special meal like the rest of the family by dishing up a doggy Christmas dinner when you’re eating. Keep to your regular meal-time routine and maybe give them a calming dog treat or two so they know to behave. 


Fireworks aren’t exactly dogs’ best friends, and they’re likely to go off at random periods throughout Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Consider some calming dog food, supervise and comfort them, and of course, keep them indoors during firework displays. 

Leaving your dog alone

If you have to leave your dog alone for a short time over the Christmas period, be sure they have the safety of their regular blankets, crate or den, comforting toys and perhaps some gentle dog music. Use a baby gate or dog barriers to be sure they stay in rooms away from hazardous Christmas decorations or plants, and don’t stay out for hours, if possible. 

In summary… 

There’s a lot to manage at Christmas, but so long as you set boundaries for your pooch (physical as well as behavioural) while making efforts to involve them in activities and offer doggy-safe spaces, they should stay happy and calm over the festive season. Keep hazards out of reach, feed them healthy festive dog food that sits well with their tums, and reassure them with their own toys and gifts so they can join in with the family fun over Christmas. 

To keep your dog happy, healthy and calm over the Christmas period, take a look at our calming grain-free food for dogs. Or for a special treat, browse our doggy Christmas gift boxes.

Comments (0)

Leave a comment

Never miss a treat!

Subscribe to our newsletter and get blog articles amongst other treats delivered to your inbox


close button