Ways To Puppy Proof Your Home
Getting a new puppy?
It's pretty exciting (and can seem a long wait if you picked one out and are waiting for it to be weaned).
However, are you properly prepared for your new pet? You have a leash, food and water bowls, you have toys, but what else?
An important consideration is whether your home is puppy proofed. Although many people leave Fido in a crate when they are not around (most dogs like being in a crate), they can easily slip away from you even when you are home and get 'into' something you really would rather they did not.
Kitchen and Bathroom Cabinets
Most people keep their cleaning substances under the kitchen and bathroom sink. Pretty much all kitchens have cabinets below the counters.
If your cabinets open simply by pulling, especially if you hook your fingers over to open them rather than under, a dog can easily work out how to open them. Some dogs may also work out how to operate handle-based latches.
Consider removing toxic chemicals to higher shelves and adding a hook and eye latch to each cabinet door...most dogs find these very hard to deal with. Needless to say, no food should be left out where a puppy can reach it.
Now is the time to check whether any of the plants in or around your house are toxic to dogs. For example, philodendron is potentially harmful, as are iris bulbs if your dog digs them up. Place plants known to be poisonous behind a barrier or elevate them in a hanging basket. I would also recommend moving tasty herbs out of reach just so your dog doesn't nibble on what you need for the next pasta sauce.
Dangerous Food Stuffs
Chocolate is dangerous to dogs, so make sure your candy bowl is on a higher counter the dog can't get to. Macadamia nuts, raisins and grapes are also potentially toxic.
It's a good idea to keep all food out of the puppy's reach...dogs, especially puppies, are inclined to gorge on anything they find and then throw up all over your rugs.
Medications should also be kept in a high cabinet or behind secure latches. Dogs are also prone to antifreeze poisoning - for some reason they think it tastes delicious. If there is any risk at all that your dog could get into the garage, get proper garage storage shelves and place antifreeze, motor oil, etc, firmly out of reach.
You may want to discontinue the use of tablecloths. If you must use them, use ones that only dangle a little bit off the edge of the table.
A dangling cloth is just too much of a temptation for a pooch and unlike the magic trick, they aren't going to pull the cloth off and leave your best china sitting on the table.
On a related note, make sure anything fragile and irreplaceable is kept on higher shelves.
Take Out The Trash
Especially the kitchen trash...if you throw a bone in the trash, your puppy might go through the trash to find it (and scatter trash everywhere).
Keep your trash cans inside a latched cabinet, or cover them, and consider emptying kitchen trash into the outside can promptly if there is food waste in it. Bear in mind, too, that many dogs (and pretty much all cats) consider a crumpled piece of paper to be a great toy. That's another thing they might knock your trash over to get.
Watch Those Cords
Dogs, especially puppies, love to chew things. For some reason, many of them prefer your electrical cords.
Run all electrical and data cords through some kind of protection, or elevate them above the puppy's reach. Wire loom or plastic spiral wrap works well, as puppies can't bite through it. Make sure to properly coil up any excess cables. Adhesive-backed cord clips can be used to attach cords to the wall out of the pet's reach.
They're also less likely to chew on cords that are painted over or colored to match the decor of the room.
Make your children put all of their toys away when they have stopped playing with them...let them know that they don't want to end up with a legless Barbie after the puppy chewed on it.
Get out of the habit of leaving your clothes on the floor. If nothing else, puppies love to curl up on clothes or blankets that carry the scent of other pack members. Shoes, especially leather ones, are a huge temptation for teething puppies.
Also put away the dog's toys in or near its crate when they are not in use. Smarter dogs will even learn to put their own toys away so nobody trips on them.
Consider using a toddler or pet gate to restrict your dog's access to certain rooms. For example, if you have a parlor or formal dining room, you probably do not want the puppy in there at all. You may also, if you have one, want to temporarily restrict the stairs when you first bring your puppy home. Some young dogs, if not used to stairs, will have difficulty navigating them to start with and their first efforts are best done under supervision...a dog falling down the stairs might look funny on Youtube, but it also might end up getting hurt.
Your puppy will teeth. Teething puppies need to chew. To stop them chewing on things you don't want, the first step is to provide plenty of things they are allowed to chew on.
One trick is to leave a nylon chew toy in the freezer overnight...it's cool and will ease the puppy's teething pains.
Resist the temptation to give your dog a toy that is the same shape as other household items...and never let your dog eat old shoes. It won't understand that it is not supposed to eat new ones.
Cayenne pepper spray will discourage chewing of specific places or objects, which is particularly useful if your puppy decides to chew on furniture or bannisters...some dogs love to chew wood.
Be Careful With Lawn Pesticides
One thing many non-dog owners don't know is that dogs will eat grass. In most cases, this means they nibble on small qualities of grass (and sometimes other vegetation, such as your house plants).
This is perfectly normal canine behavior - they are just adding a bit of fiber and roughage to their diet to help them properly digest their food. However, it does mean that if you apply pesticide or weedkiller to the lawn, you should keep Fido well away from it for a day or so. You can also train Fido to only munch on a patch of grass you leave specifically for him.
Have A Secure Fence
If you have a yard, check that the fence is secure enough to hold a dog. Personally, I don't recommend invisible fences simply because other animals...and annoying neighbor children...can get in and out. This can result in a frustrated dog and more barking. However, if your home owners' association bans high fences this may be your only option.
If you have a dog from a breed that is notorious for digging, such as a Beagle, you may want to extend your fence a foot or so underground. If you have a medium size or larger dog, then you will need a fence at least five foot high to prevent jumping. However, not all dogs climb or jump...you may be lucky.
Do not expect a hedge alone to keep a dog in. I have seen surprisingly large dogs wriggle through remarkably dense hedges. If you have a hedge, then place a low fence under it to keep the dog in.