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The Essential Guide to Puppy Proofing your House

The Essential Guide to Puppy Proofing your House

If you’ve recently decided to join the exciting, sometimes-chaotic world of dog parenthood — congrats! Welcome to the club.

You’ve likely already done some research on how to care for your new puppy. Of course, puppy proofing your home is an important part of that process. Your home is the place where your dog will spend most of their time — it’s incredibly important to make sure that you provide them with a safe environment.

Puppies are extremely energetic and curious — so when puppy proofing your home, you need to be super thorough. It’s vitally important to prevent access to anything that can be dangerous (it’s amazing what one little pup can get into!). Read on for helpful tips on how to puppy proof both the inside and outside of your home.

Puppy Proofing Inside Your Home

Let’s start with the essential tasks for puppy proofing the inside of your house. Complete the following tasks make sure you cover all the bases. 

Lock Up the Trash Cans

First and foremost, keep your food and trash contained. Store all food in cupboards, not on kitchen counters where your puppy can easily get to it. Make sure to get trash cans and diaper pails with secure lids or childproof latches. If your puppy gets into the trash, not only will they make a mess — they may eat food scraps or other materials that can be harmful to them.

Raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, and chocolate are just a few of the things that puppies might find in the garbage that are toxic to dogs. High-fat foods may not be toxic, but they can cause pancreatitis — so keep your food scraps out of your pup’s reach!

Also watch out for any trash or recycling around the house — like aluminum foil, plastic wrap, cans with sharp edges, or plastic canisters (which puppies can get their heads caught in). Ingesting these items may cause bowel obstruction in dogs.

Cover Electrical Wires and Outlets

It’s a good idea to invest in covers for your outlets. Your puppy could lick them, and end up seriously hurting themselves.  

Puppies are known for chewing, so you’ll want to puppy proof the wires in your home before they can get their teeth near them. Get covers to secure wires and strands of lights, (especially around the holidays).

Puppy pro tip: Fish tank tubing is fairly chew-proof, and works well to run electric cords through. Just make a slit in the tubing to pass the wire through.

Secure Heavy Furniture 

Be sure to secure lamps, bookshelves, and any other decorations or furniture that your puppy could knock over. You can buy anti-tipping kits to anchor heavy furniture to the wall, so it can’t be knocked over and potentially harm your mischievous pup. For more puppy proofing supplies and general puppy essentials, take a look at our puppy shopping checklist [Link to blog post when live].

Tie Up Window Treatments

Your puppy may be tempted to chew on low-hanging curtains, potentially ripping them off of the wall — both destroying the curtains, and possibly hurting themselves if they bring a heavy curtain rod down with them. Make sure your curtains are secured, pulled to the side, and out of reach.

The cords for lifting and lowering your curtains or blinds could also be potential risks for your puppy — they may chew on the plastic or get tangled in the strings. Keep these cords out of reach, and keep your little troublemaker safe.

Evaluate Your Indoor Plants

Some plants are toxic for dogs and can cause serious health issues/costly vet visits if ingested. Do some research about the plants in your house, and get rid of any that could potentially be hazardous to your pup.

Even if the plants in your house aren’t toxic for dogs, it’s probably a good idea to place them out of reach for your puppy. This will prevent them from making a mess by chewing on the leaves or digging in the dirt (and prevent you from getting annoyed with them for doing so).

Store Medications Safely

Scary thought: Puppies can easily chew through childproof medication lids and get to what’s inside. When puppy proofing your house, it’s crucial that you move all human medications, pet medications, and toiletries out of your puppy’s reach, ideally keeping them in a secure cupboard or cabinet. 

Puppy-Proof the Bathroom

Hygiene items found in bathroom trash bins can be hazardous for puppies. Make sure your bathroom trash has a secure lid or childproof latch that your puppy can’t get into. Also, it’s best to keep the toilet lid down — drinking from the toilet bowl isn’t just gross, it can be a health risk for your pup.

Keep Cleaning Supplies in Cabinets

Many common household cleaners can be toxic for your puppy — drain cleaner can even be deadly. Keep all of your cleaning supplies in secure cabinets, and get locks for them if you have an especially persistent pup. Do this essential puppy proofing task even if you use cleaning products made from natural ingredients — just because the ingredients are natural doesn’t mean that that they are safe for dogs, especially if ingested.

Block Off Cat Food Bowls and Litter Boxes

If you have a cat, make sure that their food, bowl, and litter box are in a place where your pup can’t get to them. You don’t want your puppy stealing your cat’s food — or even worse, taking a “treasure” from their litter box. Most puppies can’t resist sampling cat droppings, which can lead to parasite transmission or bowel obstructions from them eating cat litter. 

Move Small or Sharp Objects

Any open storage containers — like baskets of craft supplies, coins, shoes, or toys — should be moved into a closet or onto a high shelf.

Puppies, like babies, will explore everything and anything — usually with their mouths. To keep your puppy and your things safe, follow this basic rule of thumb: if you don’t want it to be bit, licked, or chewed, keep it out of reach from your curious pup.

Set Up Dog Gates

Dog gates can be puppy proofing lifesavers for both you and your canine companion. They can be used to limit the spaces that your puppy has access to — which translates to less spaces in your house that need to be puppy proofed.

For example, limiting your new pup to a specific part of the house means that you can eliminate hazards from that small area, then allow them into the rest of the house when they can be supervised. Limiting your puppy to a smaller area in the beginning can also help with potty training.

If you have stairs in your house, you should consider using a dog gate to block them off. Puppies are notoriously clumsy on stairs, and you wouldn’t want yours to go head over tail down a full flight when you’re not around!

Secure Windows and Doors

Windows and doors can be major dangers for new puppies. Your little pal has no idea that jumping out of an open window could lead to a 15-foot drop onto concrete. They also don’t understand that screens are not firm barriers, and could accidentally charge right on through them. Make sure that all windows and screens in your house are secure, and always monitor your puppy when they are near open windows.

Front doors lead to perhaps the most dangerous place for a puppy — the street. Many dogs can learn how to open doors, so be sure that the doors in your house are secure and childproofed for your pup’s safety.

Keep Your Mail Out Of Reach

We all sometimes leave packages by the door — the thing is, your puppy can get into the boxes and chew or eat whatever (potentially hazardous) items are inside. Always open and put away packages immediately, or keep your mail in a place where your puppy can’t get to it.

Puppy Proofing Your Yard

Next, we’ll take you through the essential steps for puppy proofing your yard. Be sure to complete all of the following tasks: 

Check the Fence

While you should always supervise your puppy when they’re out in your yard, it’s important to spot and fix any weak spots in your fence. You’d be surprised how little space your puppy needs to crawl out of the yard — and how quickly they’re able to do it — so double and triple check that your fence is secure.

Put a Fence Around the Pool

Unfortunately, drowning is a real risk for puppies — even if they can swim. Sometimes, just a small change in water level (like, a few inches) can make the difference between whether or not a puppy can get out of the pool. A young puppy may not know where the pool steps are or how to use them — so your pool should be fenced off, and always be a supervised place for your dog.

Secure Garage and Yard Supplies

Puppy proofing your garage requires securing and storing all heavy tools, and keeping small items like nails and screws in secure containers that are stored out of reach for your puppy.

Chances are, any liquid you keep in the garage — whether it’s fuel or household cleaner — is toxic for dogs. Keep all liquids stored in secure cabinets where your puppy can’t access them. Ingesting antifreeze can be fatal — so lock it up, and clean up any spills by using a clay-based litter or thoroughly hosing down the area.

Check for Toxic Flowers and Plants

If you’ve completed the necessary steps for puppy proofing the inside of your house, then you’ve already checked inside for dangerous plants. Don’t forget to check your yard, too! 

Most puppies will decide which plants and flowers they “like” by tasting them, so remove any that could be harmful. Some plants may be extremely toxic, while others will just cause tummy troubles — either way, do some research and get rid of anything that could potentially make them sick. 

Keep Your Puppy Safe From Fertilizer and Pesticides

Bug sprays, rat poison, fertilizer, and herbicides can all be fatal if consumed — so don’t use them unless totally necessary. 

If you do have any of these items at your house, make sure that they’re properly stored and secured.  Puppies love to chew on containers to get to what’s inside — but if the thing inside the container is rat poison, it could also poison your pup. Keep these hazardous products far out of reach for both puppies and children.

Set Up a Shady Rest Area

Puppies can get overheated and exhausted quickly — they’re full of energy, and they just don’t know when to slow down and take a rest! Having a nice, comfortable area where you and your pup can hang out will encourage them to rest when they need to. You could even include a raised outdoor cot and an insulated water bowl with cool water to make this “chill zone” more appealing for them.

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