Bringing home a new puppy is exciting. You’ve prepared. You went to the pet store and made sure there was food and water dishes, plenty of toys, a comfortable place to sleep, and perhaps a gate or crate to help contain the sweet beast.
Before you run off to the shelter or breeder to bring home your new bundle, take a look around your home. Chances are there are plenty of places for your new little addition to find trouble. Puppies are notorious for their ability to find trouble in the most unlikely places, so let’s take a moment from our perspective and look around.
Plants can be hazardous both to your clean house and your puppy’s health. House plants, especially those in large pots with plenty of potting soil are a fast favorite. To a puppy, it’s the perfect indoor toy that you left in the most surprising places. He can satisfy both his love of digging and his need to chew all in one convenient package. Some plants however, can be poisonous to dogs. Besides making a large mess, your new little bundle may end up ill, or worse.
Tassels are a common culprit of temptation that we tend to miss until we catch Little Rex destroying our bedspreads and tablecloth. The tight construction of tassels feel good in a puppy’s little teeth, and the soft fabric is easy for them to destroy. Until your puppy learns to only chew on his toys it is recommended that the tassels return to the closet.
Stairs are a hazard that we often take for granted. We recognize that small children are susceptible to falling down the stairs, but unsupervised puppies are likely to take a nasty tumble as well. While it is important that your little one be able to negotiate the stairs, a gate is still a good idea for those times when you might not be able to give your full attention to your puppy’s activities.
While you’re standing there and looking around, notice the items on the floor that might be a temptation to your puppy and a loss to you if it gets destroyed. Baskets that contain sewing items and magazines, decorative artifacts, and even throw rugs are all items that can easily find their way into your new puppy’s mouth. Children’s bedrooms are a goldmine of teething apparatus. It is better to have children close their doors. While it would be nice to be able to explain to them that they need to clean up in order to keep their belongings and the new puppy safe, but children have a way of lapsing into moments of forgetful messiness.
Limit Where Your Puppy Can Go
It is also better to start with your puppy confined to potion of the house, one that the family spends most of their time in, and blocking off the rest of the house except under supervised access. Limiting free movement makes it more reasonable to keep those areas puppy proof than the whole house. Just because you do it once doesn’t mean that you didn’t miss something, that life won’t make a mess, or that forgetful children won’t leave something behind. Puppy proofing is a daily activity.
Now that you are pretty sure that everything you can see has been put away or picked up out of Fido’s reach, now lie down on the floor and look around. The change in perspective can be quite shocking. One of the first things you should be able to notice is the landscape of wiring that becomes obvious from this perspective. Even if you doubt your puppy can reach all of them, puppies have a way of surprising their human families. The wires need to be contained and lifted as far out of reach as possible.
While you’re down there, take notice of the little things have made their way under the furniture. It’s not a bad time for a thorough cleaning. You don’t want to end up with a sterile living room, and it is important that your puppy be given the chance to learn what not to touch as well as what is acceptable. The goal of puppy proofing is to provide a safe environment for your puppy to learn in, leaving room for the human error of not being able to give your little guy constant attention.
As your puppy grows he will be able to reach higher and land himself in more trouble. If he is a large breed he will reach new heights very quickly and you will need to stay on top of his sudden new abilities. Smaller breeds aren’t quite as challenging, but a bored puppy will go looking for trouble if they are not receiving adequate stimulation.
If you brought home a dog who will grow to be thirty pounds or more, he will eventually discover the beautiful treasures you leave for him in the trash can. Unfortunately, some of the things we drop into the trash are not safe for their gutter dog antics. Regardless of the size of the puppy, never ever throw used razors in the bathroom trash. Bathroom trash can be just as delectable to you puppy, and for some breeds, the only garbage delicacy they will ever have access to. Soap will make your dog sick, but a disposed razor can kill him.
Likewise, be careful about throwing away cleaning products and ant chemical form of waste. Used oil, bleach, bait salt, antifreeze, and detergents all have the potential to be lethal. Disposing of them properly and well out of harm’s way is one of the most important over looked puppy proofing items on the checklist.
If by chance your little whiz manages to find his way into trouble and you are unsure of the health effects, call your vet at once. You are not bothering them with unimportant questions. It is always better to check with a professional than to wait it out and see. Likewise, if your puppy is experiencing a sudden change in behavior such as lethargy, tremendous anxiety, sudden extreme pacing, or listlessness place an immediate call to the vet. Chances are he found something you overlooked. Naturally the same is true if he develops sudden diarrhea or vomiting.
Give him time. The dramatic changes you may have had to make in your house won’t last forever. Eventually your puppy will learn what he can touch and what he can’t and hopefully grow into a trustworthy dog. In the mean time take great care to see to his safety, and enjoy him. He won’t stay this little and boisterous for very long.
I know I have done this once or twice. The first time I got a dog I learned a lot. You really do not know how to puppy proof a house until you have lived through it. They will take and eat anything they can get their hands on. Not to mention the frequent potty break outs throughout the house. That is why I clean up the house all the time while making sure I do not leave any items within reach and have potty pads laying around.