Last updated on July 8th, 2015 at 09:19 pm
Welcoming a new puppy into your home can be a fun and exciting time, but new pets, especially young ones, have a knack for getting into mischief! For the sake of your puppy’s health, the continued well-being of your material possessions, and your sanity, it’s an excellent idea to puppy proof your home before the new dog arrives. Puppy proofing isn’t very hard to do, and it can make those first few weeks much less stressful for everyone involved.
Step 1: Prepare a safe, quiet place for when your puppy is home alone. The times when a new puppy is
most likely to make a bad decision regarding what to chew or where to potty are often when nobody is there to supervise them. Leaving a puppy loose in the home, unattended, is a recipe for disaster. Instead, have a safe, secure area where your puppy can stay that provides appropriate toys, a comfortable place to rest, a little water and a potty area. You can use a large crate, an ex-pen, or close your puppy off in a small secure room such as a bathroom, spare bedroom, study, or kitchen. Just make sure the space will not allow access to anything you don’t want your puppy to chew or play with. In this way, when you’re gone, your puppy is practicing the appropriate behaviors of playing with toys and napping, and that will help him grow into a dog you can leave home alone with confidence.
Step 2: Set up baby gates. Mistakes are easy to interrupt, but established habits can be very hard to break. A brand new puppy should always be supervised when she’s out of her safe and secure area, but we’re not always as vigilant and attentive as we should be. Making use of baby gates prevents a puppy from quietly wandering out of the room and makes new owners much more likely to catch mistakes so the puppy can be redirected to appropriate chew toys. Baby gates across the tops of stairs can also prevent accidental spills.
Step 3: Move chewable objects up high or to inaccessible rooms. This is especially important if there are children in the home, as children’s toys and dog toys look an awful lot alike to a young puppy. If you don’t want your new puppy to chew it, make sure it’s too high for him to reach or in a room that he can’t access.
Step 4: Check your home for toxic plants. Some of the common plants we like to keep in the house can actually be poisonous if eaten. Know what plants you have in your home, and consult with your veterinarian to make sure none of them present a risk if ingested.
Step 5: Prevent access to household cleaners and pest control products. Many cleaning agents can be very toxic if eaten, and some can cause burns or other injuries if they get onto an animal’s skin. Pest control products are especially dangerous because not only are they poisonous, but many are designed to smell and taste good. Move cleaning agents and pest products to high shelves or get some child-proof locks for cabinets, if you need to keep those items down low. If a cabinet can be easily opened with the push of a paw or the nudge of a nose, it needs to be secured to protect your new pup.
Step 6: Consider your furniture layout. Especially if you plan to let your new puppy up on the furniture, take a look at the way it’s laid out. Would it be easy for a puppy to fall off a couch or bed? Could they easily jump off the back of the couch, or is all furniture flush with the wall? Look at how your furniture is laid out, and consider rearranging problem areas or keeping a room out of bounds if its furniture could pose a fall risk.
Step 7: Puppy proof cords, wires and outlets. Puppies love to chew through computer, TV and cable wires, so make sure you move them out of reach of questing puppy teeth. Unused outlets can be secured with child-proof outlet covers. If a wire or outlet is at your puppy’s nose level or below, it needs to be moved or blocked off so your puppy can’t get a hold of it.
Step 8: Have a plan for outdoors. Your puppy will be going outside regularly for housebreaking and exercise, so you’ll need a plan for how to keep her safe and secure. If you have a fenced yard, walk the perimeter and check for weak spots and holes where a puppy could slip though. Make sure such areas are repaired before your puppy comes home. If you have an unfenced yard or no yard, going out on leash is safest, and it’s also best for housebreaking. Young puppies shouldn’t be outdoors unsupervised, so make sure everyone in the household agrees to watch the puppy if they let them outdoors.
Step 9: Have your regular vet’s and an emergency vet’s numbers in an obvious place. No matter how much we prepare, accidents can still happen. If a true emergency should occur, you don’t want to lose precious seconds looking for your vet’s phone number or minutes trying to find your nearest emergency clinic. Have a regular and emergency vet selected before you bring your puppy home, and keep their contact information in an easy-to-access place such as the front of the fridge or right by the phone. Make sure everyone in the household knows where the numbers are, in case they ever need to use them.
And that’s it! If you follow these steps before your puppy comes home, he will be safer, learn the rules of the house more quickly and make fewer mistakes. All puppies will chew the wrong thing and have potty accidents, but by puppy proofing your home, you’ll be more likely to turn those moments into learning opportunities, and you can be more confident that your puppy’s mistakes won’t pose a risk to her health.