Adding a new family member to your household is exciting and memorable, especially if said member happens to be in the shape of a fluffy ball of energy. Puppies are similar to newborns in a myriad of ways. They are inquisitive in nature and adorably innocent, but also mischievous and accident prone. They can turn your tidy living room into their very own messy playground, which is why you need to puppy-proof your home. Puppy proofing is not just about protecting your furniture and belongings, it is also about making your home a safe space for your pooch. You need to look at your house from his perspective and comb through every room in search of hazardous items that can pose a threat to his health and safety. Below are ten tips on how to effectively puppy proof your household.
Keep Dangerous Items Behind Locked Doors
Childproof latches are your best friend, especially in the kitchen where the seductive scent of food will lure your puppy in and invite him to explore your cabinets and drawers, putting him at risk of ingesting toxic liquids or discarded food from the trash. Latches are sold in hardware stores and they are great for keeping cleaning supplies and other potentially hazardous items behind locked doors. If you are in the habit of sprinkling mothballs around the house, then you need to make sure that your puppy does not find them and turn them into a chew toy.
The same safety precautions apply to the bathroom where you have equally hazardous items such as cotton swabs, shampoo, and razors within reach. Towels and forgotten socks under the sink can easily be chewed on and swallowed by your tiny pooch, so make sure that you and the rest of your family are on the same page when it comes to tidying up and stowing away things like toothpaste and toilet paper. Toilet lids must remain down at all times to eliminate the risk of accidental drowning and to also discourage your puppy from drinking out of the wrong bowl.
Invest in Heavy Duty Products
Investing in a dog proof trash can is also recommended, so the next time you go shopping, look for a can that has a secure lid and a latch locking mechanism. It should also have a slippery stainless steel surface that will discourage your puppy from opening it. Rubber sealed trash cans are great because they trap in any pungent food odors that may attract your pooch.
Power cords are one more item you need to worry about due to their popularity amongst teething puppies. Fortunately, chew-proof PVC tubes do exist and they are a great way to protect both your appliances and your puppy at the same time. Finally, if you have a dog bowl in the kitchen and your new puppy keeps playing with it and tipping it over, then make sure to replace it with a heavy ceramic bowl that is difficult to tip over and nearly impossible to carry. The last thing you want is for your pooch to turn the kitchen into puddle central.
Screen Your Fireplace
Fire is one more hazard to add to your list, especially if you have a fireplace in your home. Installing a screen is your best option if you want to stop your puppy from feeding his curiosity with open flames. Firestarter sticks are yet another item that often flies under the radar. Some puppies find them hard to resist and end up eating them. Those sticks are not only highly flammable, but they also contain wax, sawdust, and heavy metals that are poisonous to your pooch. When it comes to kitchen stoves, consider buying knob covers in case you have more than one curious dog on your hands.
Choose the Right Furniture
There is something about wood that turns your puppy into a little chewing monster who targets wooden stools and wreaks havoc on your precious rustic furniture. If you want to save what is left of your tables and chairs, you can use taste deterrents such as bitter apple or cherry sprays. These sprays are specifically designed to stop your pooch from chewing and licking his way around the house. If the spray is not enough to stop your puppy from destroying your furniture, then you can opt for crate training. Dog crates are a great way to teach puppies the rules of your house. They are also used for potty training and transportation. However, it is important to note that crates require special training and should not be used as a form of punishment.
Another solution to the chewing problem would be to replace the wood with pet-friendly fabric such as microfiber or leather. Microfiber is durable and easy to clean while leather is puncture resistant and does not attract hair like other fabrics. Make sure to set up barriers to stop your puppy from sleeping behind or under unsafe furniture. For example, recliners have a very dangerous mechanism that can severely injure your puppy, but you can easily avoid such accidents by checking under the seat first before sitting or reclining.
Providing your pup with a comfortable alternative to sleeping behind sofas and chairs is highly recommended, and this alternative is none other than a cozy dog bed. Dog beds come in different shapes and sizes, and certain brands even sell beds that have waterproof bottoms with a soft, nap-worthy fleece layer on top.
Weed Out Toxic Plants
Scanning your household for toxic plants is an important step when it comes to puppy-proofing your rooms and yard. Lilies, sago palms, and poinsettias are three examples of toxic plants that need to be either removed or replaced by pet-friendly alternatives such as thyme, zinnias and cilantro. Consider moving your plants to a pet restricted area inside your house or simply try ceiling mounted baskets or high ledges that are impossible to reach by your adventurous puppy. Cover the soil with large rocks or crinkly pieces of aluminum to make it unattractive to your pooch. After all, potted plants can be an open invitation for your puppy to dig his heart away and even use the aforementioned pots as his very own toilet. Therefore, purchasing an indoor dog potty is not a bad idea at all when it comes to puppies. First of all, they are practical and second of all, they offer an alternative to plants and carpets, which can often become accidental potty zones. If your pup manages to get damp soil all over his paws and fur, then make sure to wash it off of him using puppy shampoo that is made with a special no-tear formula. Puppy shampoos are gentle and some of them contain safe cleansing ingredients that are better suited for their sensitive skin and eyes.
Beware of Blinds and Batteries
Corded window blinds can turn into deadly hazards for your pooch. That is why you need to install cord cleats to wrap any excess cord out of reach of puppies. If you are in the middle of remodeling your living room or kitchen, then you can opt for cordless or vertical blinds. Both are pet-friendly options that will reward you with peace of mind in the long run.
Remote controls and electronic toys run on batteries that your puppy can turn into a chewable toy. A swallowed battery is very dangerous and qualifies as an emergency. Cylindrical batteries can cause burns and heavy metal poisoning while button batteries used in cameras and watches generate an electrical current that causes tissue death or necrosis when swallowed.
Secure Doors and Windows
Puppies are smart and persistent, so failed attempts will not discourage them from trying to open doors or escape through windows for the hundredth time. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stop your pooch from venturing outside the house. For starters, pet proof window screens made out of heavy-duty fiberglass are available at Home Depot and can be easily fitted to your windows and doors. If you have a swinging door inside your house, then make sure it stays open. Glass doors are also not safe since your puppy can easily run into them and injure his neck in the process.
The laundry room is yet another place that your puppy can turn into an amusement park. Hiding inside dryers and washing machines and knocking down hampers can be extremely dangerous. The presence of detergents and other cleaning supplies puts your puppy at risk too. Choose a hamper with a secure lid for your clothes and keep cleaning agents on high shelves. This includes dryer sheets and stain remover sticks. Washer and dryer doors must be closed at all times to stop your pooch from turning them into napping areas.
Comb Through the Yard
Your puppy will take his chewing habit and innate curiosity with him wherever he goes, and this applies to your yard as well. The unpredictable ways in which he can get into trouble are enough to make you reconsider leaving him to his own devices. You simply cannot allow your pooch to roam free without puppy proofing the yard first. Gardening gloves and tools make for easy chewing targets, so remove any shovels or rakes you may encounter and store them in a safe and unreachable place. Inspect your fence and repair the gaps you find. Small puppies can easily slip out of the yard unnoticed, so make sure you have a puppy harness on hand. Block any openings you find using chicken wire and do not forget to put concrete blocks along the base your fence. Use mesh or rocks to protect sprinkler wires from your puppy and his tenacious teeth. Install what is known as self-closing hinges on all gates as a backup in case somebody leaves them open. Yards are also home to poisonous items. Needless to say, weed killers and snail and slug baits fall under this category. If you have a pool, then consider investing in a durable pool cover to eliminate the risk of drowning. You can also install a fence around hot tubs and manmade ponds for good measure. If you have crawl spaces under your home, rest assured that your puppy will find them and use them as an escape route. Unfortunately, puppies can easily get trapped in there, so it is always better to be proactive and invest in a sealed crawl. A sealed crawl space is insulated from the outside environment and offers many benefits to your home as well.
Anywhere but the Garage
Your garage has the words “danger zone” written all over it and for good reason. Garages are home to toxic and highly flammable liquids, not to mention antifreeze. This engine coolant will attract your young and clueless pooch like a magnet due to its sweet scent and taste. If ingested, this chemical can cause major damage to your puppy and his organs. Petroleum products are just as bad and are known to poison dogs, resulting in symptoms such as dizziness and abdominal pain. Other toxic substances include pesticides, paints, and battery acid. All of the aforementioned liquids must be placed on high shelves as a precaution. Choking hazards like nuts and bolts and sharp tools also belong behind locked cabinet doors. You can keep your puppy out of the garage by using a tall and sturdy dog gate. You have a choice between pressure-mounted and hardware mounted gates, depending on the location of your garage. Pressure mounted gates are more appropriate for inside the house and can be used as barriers between rooms while hardware gates can be permanently attached to a wall or doorway of your choice.
In summary, the goal of puppy proofing is to protect your young pooch from harm and keep your household in one piece until this juvenile stage is over. Once your dog gets over his experimental, chew-centric phase and learns how to behave, you can let your hair down and relax a little. Until then, make sure your rooms are secure and clutter-free and that your puppy proofing skills are up to scratch.