How To Puppy-Proof Your Home And Yard Like A Champ
Bringing home a new puppy is easily one of life’s greatest joys, rivaled only by watching them grow up and giving them plenty of belly rubs along the way. But even though it might be tempting to bring home an entire crate of little fluff-balls because you fell in love at first sight, you’ll need to puppy-proof your home beforehand.
Fortunately, a bit of planning and prep work can help your pup (or crate of pups) better acclimate to their new home. We’ve compiled some simple steps you can take to puppy-proof your home and yard like a winner — which will make your first few weeks as a dog owner that much easier.
Even if you’re planning on keeping your dog outdoors, puppies will need an area inside the home to begin learning social and behavioral skills. Whether you’re using a kennel, a spare room, or a crate as your designated puppy place, make sure you’ve taken the following steps to keep your pup — and your belongings — safe:
1) Assume Everything Will Be Chewed On
Puppies love to chew, and you’d be surprised at what they can get into. Even something like loose flooring can become the perfect chew toy if your pup is left unattended long enough. The flooring in your puppy’s area should be secure and extend past the length of their crate or kennel.
Additionally, while houseplants can be beautiful additions to the home, many common plants (like Azaleas and Daylilies) are actually toxic to dogs and should be kept far out of your puppy’s reach. Click here for a full list of toxic plants, courtesy of The Humane Society.
You'll also want to scope out and put away any loose items like electrical cords, photo albums, shoes, and anything else you don’t want puppy teeth marks all over. Cabinet corners can also become prime chew toys, which means you should secure all your doors with cabinet locks — especially if they contain any hazardous chemicals or cleaning supplies.
2) Watch Out For Heavy Objects
If you’re going to give your puppy some room to roam, make sure they’re not at risk of tipping things over, particularly if they’re going to be unattended for any period of time. For instance, is your TV securely fastened to its stand, or will your puppy potentially knock it over? Do you have any other heavy objects, like mirrors, vases or dressers, that should be secured or moved?
The danger of heavy objects won’t be a huge issue when your puppy is confined to their specific area. But as your puppy grows and starts to explore with their natural sense of curiosity, keep an eye out for the hazards that exist in various rooms of your home. Some pet behaviorists actually recommend getting down on all fours and looking at your living space from a puppy’s perspective — what poses a potential danger? What can be fixed?
3) Keep An Eye Out For Toxic Food
Bringing your puppy home involves more than just taping down electric cables and locking your cabinets — you’ll also need to evaluate your kitchen and dining areas. Your pup might get into your trashcan, exposing them to potentially poisonous foods like coffee grounds and chocolate.
While you’re cooking, take extra care to avoid dropping bad-for-puppy food on the floor. Even if your puppy is crated while you’re in the kitchen, their little noses will sniff out any scraps once they have a chance to wander over to the stove — and just in case you think your puppy ingested something they shouldn’t have, keep the number for the Pet Poison Hotline (855-764-7661) nearby.
Also, even if your puppy has the most adorable begging face ever, try to discourage your family from feeding them table scraps. Not only does this action increase your puppy’s chances of eating something dangerous, but it also encourages bad habits and could increase your pooch’s risk for obesity down the line.
4) Check Your Furniture
A rocking chair and a curious puppy is a bad combination — especially if your snuggle-buddy is just starting to explore your home and find their favorite resting spots. As you puppy proof your home, take an inventory of furniture that your dog might want to crawl under. Then, either prevent your dog from accessing those spots or make a habit of checking your furniture before sitting down. A good way to avoid accidentally hurting your pup is to avoid leaving them unattended when they’re outside of their puppy area.
For homes with stairs, a dog gate is a safe way to ensure your pup doesn’t take an accidental tumble. You should also try to keep your bathroom door closed; full toilets, sinks, and tubs are drowning hazards for adventurous pups. While you’re at it, keep bathroom trashcans out of reach — they can contain products that are especially bad for dogs, like dental floss and used razors.
Okay, you’ve got the indoors covered. But what about the great outdoors? While a home with a yard is a wonderful thing, you should take some precautionary steps before you let your pup roam free.
1) Get On De-Fence
Your puppy’s outdoor experience should be as secure as their time indoors. If possible, create a fenced-off kennel in a safe corner of your yard where your puppy has space to play, dig, and relieve themselves.
If you’re letting your puppy explore your entire yard, take stock of the condition of your fence. Are there any loose boards, gaps along the bottom, or areas where your puppy could squeeze between bars? Puppies can fit through surprisingly small openings, and something like a crawl space under your home poses a potential danger zone if it’s even remotely accessible. Create barriers with boards, paver stones, or chicken wire in problem areas — especially if your puppy is a digging breed.
How tall is your fence? If your adorable pup will one day grow into a medium- or large-breed dog, make sure your fence is a minimum of 6 feet tall — any shorter and your dog could jump clear over the top!
2) Remember: Everything Is Chewable
Garden hoses. Stray pool toys. Plants. The same precautions you took indoors should also extend outdoors, particularly if you have a garden. Aside from ensuring that your plants are nontoxic to dogs, you should also avoid leaving things out that your fuzzy friend might want to chew (or even eat).
If you have cushions for your outdoor furniture, consider temporarily removing them until your puppy learns that not everything is a chew toy. Outdoor electrical cords should be taped down or kept out of your puppy’s reach; in fact, this might be another good opportunity to get down on a dog’s level and experience what your pup will see when they’re exploring your yard. What’s accessible? What might be knocked over? What can you put away or secure?
3) Pool Care
While many dogs love to swim, puppies should not be allowed near pools without supervision. A fenced-off kennel or dog run will help keep your dog away from the pool’s edge, but you can also invest in a pool fence that will keep your pup from accidentally taking a dip before they’re ready.
Pools also present an interesting problem for dog owners because they increase the chances that a gate to the yard will be left open. If you have a pool service company, landscaper, or other services that accesses your yard, make sure you inform them that you have a dog, and that they should ensure the gate is securely locked behind them.
Additionally, if you’re hosting an event, and you know that people are going to come and go through the yard throughout the day, consider moving your puppy indoors or to a more secure area away from a potentially open gate.
Bringing Home Your Puppy
There's one final step that all dog owners should take, regardless of age: make sure your dog is microchipped with your current information, and update that info any time you move. It’s a simple step, but an important one in case your pup does ever happen to get out.
Once you’ve puppy-proofed your home, you’ll be ready to spend as much time with your new fluff ball as you want! And you can rest easy knowing that they’ll come home to a safe, happy home. Belly rubs: commence!