Congratulations and welcome to the fun world of dog ownership! It’s an exciting time, but it can also be a little overwhelming. There are supplies to buy and household hazards to consider. Where do you even start? Good news, today I’m going to walk through the basics to puppy proof your home!
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As the soon-to-be owner of a new puppy, you have a lot of learning ahead of you. After all, these adorable little balls of fur don’t come with an owner’s manual. Wouldn’t that be nice?
In the coming months, you’re going to become a puppy master. A guru of sorts. Not necessarily the knower of all relating to caring for a puppy, but certainly the best equipped to take care of your puppy! After all, just like a human, every dog is an individual with their own personality and their own quirks.
There are, however, some tips and tricks that ring through in nearly every household – information that can be learned through trial and error but is best learned from networking with other dog owners and/or from researching before the big arrival.
These are the tips that we’re going to talk about today. However, as you’re reading, keep my above statement in mind. Not every piece of information here is going to work for every dog. Hell, we share our house with 2 dogs right now, and they couldn’t be more different!
The key is to take this information, prepare as much as you can (you’ll never be 100% ready) and try to be flexible. At the end of the day, if you are providing your pet with all of the necessities (food, water, shelter, companionship) and taking the necessary precautions to keep your pup safe, you’re doing great!
16 Tips to Puppy Proof Your Home
The important thing to remember when puppy-proofing your home is that a puppy is much like an infant – they are overly curious and have NO idea of what dangers may be lurking within your 4 walls. This is why it is so important to do our part to protect them from any unnecessary risks.
As your puppy grows and develops, they will start to learn the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, safe and unsafe. Until that time, the onus is on you.
#1 – Lock Up ALL Hazardous Chemicals
Take a moment to consider where you are storing the chemicals in your home. This could include cleaning materials, beauty products (for example, hair bleach), laundry detergents, insect traps, lawn care and more.
Remember, your puppy is going to be curious. An unlocked cupboard isn’t enough. You would be surprised how quickly a curious puppy can learn to open that door!
Any chemicals need to be kept in a locked cupboard or up out of the puppy’s reach.
If you are using a storage area that is at floor level where your puppy can access it, considering investing in child safety locks to keep your cupboards secure. Many products aimed at child safety are both cost-effective and highly effective.
#2 – Take Note of Electrical Cords
Any wires that are resting at ground level in your house are a risk for your puppy. Why? Curious puppies have a tendency to chew and chewing an electrical cord can lead to serious danger including oral burns and electrocution.
Wherever possible, raise electrical cords up out of your puppy’s reach.
You can also use furniture to block access to electrical cords (assuming your puppy is unable to get underneath or around the furniture in question). If you’re unsure, play it safe and take additional precautions.
If you’re unable to move a cord or block your puppy’s access to it, consider purchasing a cord protector to act as a barrier.
#3 – Move All Breakable Items Out of Reach
Your new puppy is going to be an excitable, happy and rambunctious little ball of joy. This is a great thing, however, wagging tails and bouncy, playful puppies can often clear coffee tables and low-lying shelves in 2 seconds flat!
When you puppy proof your home, take a moment to survey the rooms that your new puppy is going to have access to. Are there any plants, vases or knick-knacks near ground level? Time to move them!
A great way to spot any risks is to simply sit on the ground in the middle of your room and look around. You may be surprised what you notice from that level that you wouldn’t have considered while standing up!
#4 – Secure Trash Cans
We’ve all seen the cartoon or television show where the dog tore into the trash, creating a huge mess. However, have you stopped to consider the many risks that your dog can be exposed to?
Items discarded in your trash could present serious health concerns. On the lighter end of the scale, they could cause vomiting or diarrhea, which no one wants to have to deal with. On the more serious end, they could cause gastrointestinal obstructions requiring surgery or toxicity.
In either situation, that could be life-threatening!
In order to puppy proof your home effectively, you need to eliminate this risk! Ensure that your trash bins are heavy enough that your puppy can’t knock them over (on purpose or accidentally). You also want to use bins that have a secure lid, preventing your puppy from having access to the ‘goodies’ that lie within.
#5 – Limit Access to Unnecessary Rooms
In the beginning, you will want to limit your puppy’s access to unnecessary rooms around your house. This will make it easier for you to monitor what he/she is doing throughout the day while also preventing unnecessary accidents.
The goal is to start small with limited access and slowly allow your new puppy to expand that space as they grow older and progress through their training.
#6 – Consider Window Blind Cords and Curtain Ties
A hidden hazard in many homes, both window blind cords and curtain ties can pose a choking risk if a playful puppy finds themselves tangled while trying to play. If you look away for even a second, this could be life-threatening!
I’m not saying that you have to replace all the blinds in your house (that can be costly). Simply tie the cords up out of their reach and check them regularly to make sure that they stay that way.
#7 – Toilet Bowls and Bathtubs/Showers
While many people will consider the bathroom a safer place for their pup due to the easy to clean up tile or linoleum floors, there are risks to consider here too! In addition to the storage of potentially hazardous chemicals as mentioned in point #1, there are a few other considerations.
Let’s start with the toilet. If you are using a cleaning product that automatically disperses in your toilet, drinking this water could be toxic. Even if you aren’t, who wants puppy kisses from a dog that has been drinking from the toilet. Am I right?
An inexpensive child safety lock will prevent any unnecessary problems.
Bathtubs and showers are often overlooked. You know what they say, out of sight, out of mind. Many people leave products like soaps, shampoos, razors and more on low-lying shower shelves or along the sides of the bathtub, leaving them accessible to your puppy. Take a moment to inspect these spaces as you would every other space in your home.
#8 – Connect with Experienced Dog Owners
Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with questions and concerns? Rather than trying to go at this alone, why not plug into a network of pet owners. Ask questions, learn from their experiences and share the excitement of your newest family member.
While this may not technically be a factor when you puppy proof your home, I can’t stress the value of community enough!
Are you looking for a pet-loving community to plug into? Come join our Facebook group ‘Proud Pet Lovers Worldwide’
#9 – Block Off Potential Hiding Places
Take a moment to survey your room for small spaces that your dog may use as a potential hiding place. This could include areas such as underneath/behind furniture or underneath staircases. Obviously, the smaller the puppy, the more places that he/she may be able to slip into.
Not only could these spaces leave you trying to coax your puppy out, but they may also provide a space that your puppy could get into trouble unnoticed. No one wants to discover that your puppy has had an ‘accident’ somewhere out of your reach!
Even more concerning, an unsupervised puppy (a puppy in their hiding space) may be into trouble that could be potentially dangerous. For example, if a puppy is chewing something up, they could break off and ingest parts leading to an obstruction.
If necessary, you can use the same pens discussed above (see point #5) to block off areas of a room safely.
#10 – Eliminate Temptations
There are certain items that will act as a temptation to your puppy, eager for something to play with. For example, how often have you heard about puppies chewing up their owner’s shoes?
Your puppy is going to get into mischief. Remember, they are still learning the difference between right and wrong. Rather than being frustrated or annoyed after the fact, you can remove the temptations before the problem ever arises.
This is going to be an ongoing process. If you put all your shoes up out of your puppy’s reach but take off the pair you were wearing today and leave them by the door, you’ve created an opportunity. Keep your eyes open and prepare for trouble!
Additional temptations include slippers, remote controls, decorative pillows and children’s toys, among other things.
#11 – Remove Poisonous Houseplants
While houseplants are often seen as an innocent touch, adding a little greenery to your room, many common houseplants aren’t pet friendly. Ingesting these plants could cause a wide spectrum of problems ranging from mild digestive problems and irritation to full organ failure and death.
Take the time to walk room to room, making a list of any and all plants in your home.
The American Society for the Prevent of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has published an extensive list of poisonous plants. With your list of houseplants in hand, consult this resource to identify any risks.
#12 – Create a ‘Safe Space’
In order to help your new puppy feel safe and secure within your home, you need to ensure that they have a space that they can consider their own.
For many new dog owners, this ‘safe space’ will come in the form of a crate or pen, but it could also be something as simple as their own bed or blanket. It needs to be a space that, when they are there, they will be left alone to rest and recharge.
If there are children in your home, this needs to be a child-free spot, If your kids are old enough to understand, teach them to leave the puppy alone when they retreat to this space. If not, it needs to be set up in a space where your child won’t have access.
A Note on Crates: While you will see many speak up in opposition of crates due to the fact that some owners will leave their dogs locked in a crate for an extended period of time, they do have some great benefits.
When done properly, crate training can be a valuable asset. It will teach your dog to love their crate, seeing it as a space of safety and comfort.
Getting your dog used to a crate early will also come in handy should you chose to travel with your pup in the future.
#13 – Outdoor Safety
When taking your new puppy outside to go to the bathroom, you need to take precautions to ensure that he/she is safe and secure. Your efforts to puppy proof your home need to include both indoors AND outdoors.
If you have a house with a fenced-in yard, which is the ideal situation, make sure to walk the full perimeter of the fence regularly to check for any damage to the fence or holes that may allow your puppy to escape.
Even in a fenced yard, NEVER leave your puppy outside unsupervised!
The absence of a fence doesn’t mean that you can’t keep your puppy safe, you simply need to take extra precautions. It will take time for your puppy to learn where he/she can and can’t go, including the perimeter of your yard. Until such time that extensive training has been completed, it is important to keep your puppy on leash while outside.
In addition to the risks of potentially escaping your hard, you need to search the yard for risks within these boundaries. Check your property carefully for the existence of poisonous plants or small items that could be chewed or ingested.
Avoid the use of fertilizers, pesticides or insecticides on your yard as these can be harmful to your puppy.
#14 – Pools, Ponds and Hot Tubs
While this would technically fall under outdoor safety, pools, ponds and hot tubs pose a HUGE risk to your puppy and deserve a special mention. If your puppy accidentally falls into the water, he/she could drown.
While you can teach pool safety with proper training, this takes time. If these spaces aren’t permanently fenced off already, removable fencing can be purchased to safely secure this space keeping your puppy (as well as any other animals and neighbourhood children) safe.
#15 – Create a Dog-Specific First Aid Kit
Do you have a first aid kit at home in the event that you or a member of your family is hurt? What about your furry family members?
While many of the items that you will find in a dog first aid kit are similar to that of a kit designed for human care, there are additional factors to consider such as vet wrap bandages and styptic powder.
If you need help creating a first aid kit, check out my post ‘Be Prepared With This DIY Dog First Aid Kit’ for a detailed breakdown!
#16 – Purchase the Basics in Advance
The first day that you bring your puppy home, you are going to want to spend all of your time at home with your new family member. The last thing you’re going to want to do is to leave him/her in order to go pick up supplies!
Before that big day, take the time to purchase everything you’ll need in the beginning from food dishes and treats to chew toys and collars.
Not sure what you need? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Check out my FREE New Puppy Checklist to make sure that you don’t miss anything important!
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Dog owners – What tips would you give to a new owner? Share your best advice to puppy proof your home in the comments below!