It’s time to start thinking like a puppy owner!
You’ve waited and waited. You’ve picked a name (or at least narrowed the list down) and already have a collar, leash and tons of toys ready. With only a few days before you go pick up your gorgeous new pup from her breeder’s home, it’s crucial to get down to the business of preparing your home for her arrival.
For the safety of your puppy and also for the good of your personal property, it pays to have some puppy-proofing done before your new bundle of joys comes home to you. Below are 9 of my top tips to get you started on “pre puppy-proofing”.
Please note that I am not a dog training professional. I’m an experienced dog owner and Canadian Kennel Club member. These are my tips for a creating a safer home for your new puppy. Your puppy’s breeder may also have some great tips for you.
It’s unfair to assume that a dog entering a new home will understand all the rules right away. Puppies take time to adjust to their new home and pack. The best way you can make sure your puppy is able to play, nap and eat safely is by creating a safe spot within your home for the puppy.
Depending on the design of your home’s common areas, you can either use a baby gate to block off an area or use an exercise pen (ex-pen) to make an enclosure that will keep your puppy safe with her crate, toys and bowls.
You must also consider your home’s outdoor space while creating safe limits for your new puppy. Puppy –proofing your backyard could be a whole other blog (stay tuned) but here are the basics. If you are physically able to, get down on all fours and check out your yard from the perspective of a puppy. Are there spots in the fencing where a puppy could escape by squeezing through or slipping under? Could your new puppy crawl under your backyard deck? Make sure that any gates are secured. Even if you’re diligent about keeping the gate shut, you don’t know for sure that other people will be. You may want to take an extra step like installing extra padlocks on your gate.
Your puppy should always be supervised while enjoying her time in the backyard. If you have a pond or pool, you will definitely want to make sure there is a gate to keep your puppy from falling into the water. If you have any doubts about the safety of your backyard, I would again recommend the ex-pen. The exercise pen is portable and offers a safe spot for your puppy to play both indoors and outdoors. The ex-pen is also great because it allows you to follow the shade on hotter days.
Crates Create Safe Spots
I would say that a crate is the single most useful tool any puppy owner can use to transition a puppy safely to their new home. Crate training takes advantage of your dog's natural instincts as a den animal. A wild dog's den is their home—a place to sleep, hide from danger and raise a family. If introduced properly, the crate will become your dog's room, where she can find comfort and solitude while you know she is safe and secure. Crate training can save your furniture, your floors and even your dog’s life. You can learn more about how to successfully crate train your dog here:
Cover and hide trash receptacles
The garbage bin is just too tempting for a dog. The smells, the sounds of wrappers and of course the taste of forbidden human treats makes even the best behaved dogs go into a gluttonous frenzy. Unfortunately, getting into the garbage isn’t just messy, it can be very dangerous for your puppy if they ingest something they shouldn’t. Now is the time to start making sure your trash receptacles have tight, secure lids and are put away from where your puppy can get them. Depending on how clever your dog is, you might also have to put in baby locks on the cupboard doors that store the garbage. Before you bring your puppy home is the time to start reminding everyone to always put the lid on the trash and to make sure the bin won’t get reached by the puppy.
Contain and/or Cover Cords
We don’t think much about our household cables and cords, but for some reason puppies find them fascinating to chew on and this can cause big problems like electrocution and choking so it’s important to take some preventative measures. A simple way to protect your cables from the unwanted advances of a puppy is to raise them off the floor and affix them to surfaces. Adhesive-back cord clips are an inexpensive and versatile solution that can be placed on the underside of desks and table tops, along shelving, or around doorways to route cords upward and keep them flat against surfaces. A way to protect chewers is to make an investment in some wire loom or spiral wrap.
Your bathroom should be off limits with the exception of when you bathe your puppy in the tub. Soap, cotton balls, razors and pills can all be ingested which could lead to an expensive emergency visit to the veterinarian. Keep soaps, shampoos, tissues, hair ties and other accessories out of reach in a cabinet or drawer. Keep the toilet lid down as a curious puppy could climb into the bowl and drown. You may want to install safety latches to the cabinets here as you did in the kitchen. It is best to keep the bathroom door closed at all times, starting now.
There are so many temptations for a curious puppy to chew on in the hallways and common areas of your house. Puppies don’t yet know the difference between their chew toys and your shoes, iPhone, books, etc. Purses and backpacks are especially important to stow away as sugar-free gums, makeup and drugs kept in them could be fatal if ingested by your new puppy. Now is the time to start putting loose items away in appropriate places like closets and cupboards. With a puppy in your home, it’s a good idea to purchase a couple decorative bins.
The flora in your home can be dangerous to the new fauna in your home. Certain house plants can be dangerous and some can even be deadly, so it’s important that you know before you grow. Plants like Aloe Vera, Ivy, Jade, Dumb Cane, Philodendron, Sago Palm, Elephant Ear and Asparagus Fern should be kept far out of reach or given to a non- dog owning friend. There are plants that are safe to keep with dogs. Always do your research before buying a new plant now that you have a dog.
Many of our devices require batteries, but it is extremely important to store both new and used batteries out of reach of your dog as they can be very dangerous when ingested by dogs. When a battery is punctured or swallowed, there is a risk for the alkaline or acidic material to leak out, resulting in severe corrosive injury. The most common types of batteries ingested or chewed on by dogs are alkaline dry cell battery Disc-shaped batteries or lithium batteries are also very dangerous due to corrosive injury. If your puppy does ingest a battery, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Give them a lift or a step
You must decide before the puppy arrives at your home whether or not your dog will be allowed on the furniture. If you don’t want a grown dog on the couch, you can’t allow a puppy to do so. If you decide that your puppy will have access to the furniture it’s important to have sturdy steps or a ramp to help your little puppy get on and off furniture. Regardless of the size of your puppy, it’s important to guard your puppy’s joints as they grow. If you think about it – a tiny puppy jumping off a couch would be like a human jumping off a one-story roof. When a small dog jumps off a piece of furniture (or out of a car) the force of landing ripples through their bodies. When a dog’s front feet land on a surface, the impact of her body weight is absorbed first through the forelimbs and then by her back. The hind limbs land next, absorbing the impact of the hindquarter weight and sending a final jolt to her back. You can make your own steps or ramp to furniture or you can purchase them at pet stores, vendors at dog events and at some furniture stores.
This list is just a beginning. Once your puppy comes home more hazards may become apparent as each home and puppy are different. Start off on the right paw by taking a day or two to start pre puppy-proofing before your cute new family member comes home.