How to Prepare Your Home for a Dog

Dog-proofing your home is important both for curious puppies and for adult dogs who don’t yet know what’s acceptable and what’s off limits in your home. Although an adult dog may not even consider gnawing on the legs of the kitchen chair, eating your shoes, or rooting through the garbage, you won’t know for sure until you bring him home.

Any dog in a new environment is bound to explore, and some dogs explore more enthusiastically than others. Puppies, in particular, explore with their noses and mouths, and that may mean chomping on choking hazards, chewing through electrical cords, and munching on your favorite possessions. Puppies can also get stuck in or under some very strange things — sometimes dangerous things.

Most puppy-proofing is a matter of common sense and can be essentially summarized in one Golden Rule of puppy proofing: If you don’t want your dog to chew it, then put it out of reach.

Look for the following when dog-proofing your home:

  • Choking hazards: Pick up paperclips, bits of paper or string, rubber bands, and other objects a young puppy may find tempting enough to sample.

  • Unstable objects: What if you knocked the base of that side table with your wagging rear end? Would that lamp fall on your head? Can big puppy paws reach the edge of that coffee table and knock off all those breakable knickknacks? Either make unsteady objects steady enough to withstand the onslaught of your new dog or move them out of your pooch’s sphere of influence.

  • Strangulation hazards: Does the dangling curtain fringe beckon, begging your pup to grab it with his teeth and give it a good shake? Are the mini-blind cords hanging within reach of dog necks? Find a way to remove these potential strangulation hazards from your dog’s reach by taping them down, tying them out of reach, or removing them altogether.

  • Electrocution hazards: A puppy can bite through an electrical cord in seconds, causing severe burns and electrocution. Make sure you tape cords down or put them behind furniture so puppy isn’t tempted by an electrocution hazard.

  • Tempting trash: Some garbage can really harm a dog, especially an adopted dog who may be used to scrounging for meals. Some particularly hazardous examples are rotten food and tasty but dangerous cooked bones that can splinter in your dog’s intestine.

  • Poisons: Anything that can poison a human toddler can also poison a dog. Put safety locks on cabinets within the reach of your new dog, particularly the ones that contain poisonous household chemicals like cleaners, pest poisons, medications, cleaners, and even toiletries like your shampoo, lotion, and sunscreen.

  • Your prized possessions: For puppies, chewing feels good during teething, and some mouthy breeds like Sporting breeds, Hounds, and Terriers chew throughout their lives. However, dogs don’t know that your child’s favorite stuffed bunny or your expensive piece of sports equipment is any different than the fleece stuffed toy or rubber chewie that you gave them.

Supervision is a key element to puppy-proofing. Although you may not be used to keeping an eye out for what your puppy is doing at all times, doing so is essential for your dog’s safety, not to mention a crucial part of housetraining. Until you know exactly what your puppy is likely to do, watch her. And, don’t forget to keep doors closed when your pooch is home alone.

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