How to Puppy-Proof Your Home

Written by: Jill Jones

Puppies look cute when they behave, but always be on alert.
Photo by Debbie, Beaumont

Puppies! How can something so cute be such trouble? Their tendency to chew on almost anything–including shoes, furniture, toys, books, and electrical cords, to name a few favorites–is legendary. If you’ve raised a puppy, you know that the risks associated with their compulsive, indiscriminate chewing is just the tip of the iceberg. When you have a new puppy, hazards abound throughout your home.

The good news is that puppies grow out of this stage pretty quickly. In the meantime, here are some tips to help you puppy-proof your home to get you through the first few months with the puppy, most importantly, and the majority of your furnishings and possessions intact.

First, never leave your puppy unattended during the first few months. If you do, he will get into trouble, either by having an accident or getting into something he’s not supposed to, or both. You need to figure out a way to keep him confined. You can crate him part of the time (when he’s sleeping, for example), but it’s not a good idea to keep him there for long periods. Otherwise, he will start to perceive the crate as punishment, not the safe, quiet space it’s supposed to be.

Confining him to the kitchen is a better solution. In most homes it’s a hub of activity where the puppy will stay engaged and where you can keep an eye on him. If you don’t have a kitchen with doors that close, you can set up a dog gate in the doorway, or, if you have enough room, a free-standing dog gate that functions like a playpen where he can hang out (always with a toy that keeps him busy).

Here is a list of common items and areas in your house which could be dangerous for your new puppy:

● Doors and Windows – Make sure these remain secure so he can’t escape outside where countless other dangers lurk.

● Stairways – Though he may shy away from these at first, as he gets braver he will try to navigate them before he’s ready developmentally and risk falling and hurting himself.

● Cat litter box – Yes, he will undoubtedly find it fascinating. Not only is it disgusting, it could be dangerous if he ingests the litter or the other “contents.”

● Rocking Chairs – His paw or tail could easily be injured when someone’s rocking.

● Closing Doors/Swinging Doors – He could get caught while following you so closely that you don’t notice. Always keep an eye out for him—he’ll like to be underfoot or close by.

● Gum and Other Human Food – Most sugarless gum and chocolate are toxic to dogs of all ages. Human table scraps (especially bones) are dangerous, too. Take care to keep these away from your puppy at all times.

● Garbage – Keep the lid closed and store the receptacle in a secure spot—like under the sink behind a cabinet door—where your dog can’t get into it. He will keep trying, so remain vigilant!

● Medications and Cleaning Supplies – keep them out of reach at all times. Plastic containers are appealing chew “toys.”

● Electrical Cords – He may try to chew on them and get a dangerous shock in the process.

● Drapery/Blinds Cords – As with a small child, these are a strangulation risk. Secure them so they’re not hanging where the dog can play with them.

● Houseplants – Some are toxic to dogs, who may want to nibble on them or dig them out of the pot. Keep them out of reach.

● Fire – Keep the puppy away from fireplaces, woodstoves, and grills so he doesn’t get burned. You can use a free-standing dog gate to make sure he keeps his distance.

● Laundry – Many dogs LOVE laundry. Don’t let your puppy near it as he might ingest a small article of clothing which will wreak havoc with his digestive system.

There are undoubtedly other hazards we haven’t thought of, but your puppy will find them, given the chance. Forewarned is forearmed in the battle to stay ahead of your mischievous young puppy. Don’t let him loose in the house!

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