By Wendy Wilson
The day has finally arrived: Your new bundle of fur is coming home! After a long search, you found the right puppy for you and your family — and now the preparation begins.
As a responsible pet lover, you will need to provide a safe environment for this little puppy. Preparing your home and yard for the new family member is similar to doing so for a curious toddler — you want to eliminate any and all dangers. Your pup will want to investigate every electrical cord, every closet, and every rut in the yard, and he won’t distinguish between your favorite pair of shoes and his chew toy. It’s up to you to make sure your dog (and your stuff!) will be safe from those puppy temptations.
Before your puppy comes home, walk through your house from room to room, keeping an eye out for these possible hazards.
The kitchen contains all sorts of interesting drawers, cabinets, and cords, not to mention smells and tastes. If he can get into a cabinet or drawer, your puppy will explore everything inside. Childproof latches, which can be found at your local hardware store, prevent curious pups from investigating, while keeping potentially dangerous foods and cleaning supplies out of reach.
Power cords look like fun chew toys to a teething puppy. Tucking them out of reach, blocking them, or enclosing them in a chew-proof PVC tube will divert your dog’s attention.
The bathroom can be a dangerous place for a puppy, too. Razors, pills, cotton swabs, and soap left within your dog’s reach can be easily ingested — which can mean an emergency visit to your veterinarian. Family members need to be conscientious about cleaning up after themselves in the bathroom. Put shampoos, soap, tissues, and accessories out of reach or inside a cabinet or drawer.
Especially while your pup is young, keep the toilet lid down at all times, or keep the bathroom door closed. A curious dog could jump into the bowl and drown. In addition, use a trash can with a locking lid or stash it under the sink. Also install childproof latches on the drawers and cabinets, and be sure to tuck dangling cords away, out of your pup’s reach.
Dogs are scent-oriented, so they gravitate toward anything that smells like you. Shoes, slippers, and clothing will quickly become toys if you don’t safeguard such items behind a closed closet door. Keep clothing picked up, store shoes out of reach, and put laundry in a tall, closed hamper. Store jewelry, hair ties, coins, and other small ingestible items in containers or drawers, and secure any exposed cords or wires. Many dogs like to den under the bed or wedge themselves behind furniture, so put up temporary blockades to prevent your puppy from hiding where she shouldn’t.
Whether a living room or family room, these cozy gathering places often have pillows, shoes, magazines, iPods — all kinds of things that could tempt a curious and teething puppy.
Stay vigilant about straightening up and putting away clutter, especially in those areas where you and your family spend the most time. Put loose items away, stow pillows and blankets in decorative bins, and keep cords and wires out of puppy’s reach.
Your puppy may be drawn by all sorts of temptations in your office: papers, magazines, cords, wires, paperclips, rubber bands, and staples. These items may be fun to play with, but they can be fatal if chewed or swallowed. As with the rest of the house, pick up strewn office supplies, secure or enclose cords and wires, and keep decorative items well out of your pup’s reach.
Plants attract dogs, too, so place them on a shelf or counter if possible. If not, consider putting them in a spare room and keeping the door closed until your furry friend has graduated from his curious puppy stage.
When you look around your garage and yard, you’ll see many obvious and not-so-obvious dangers to your puppy. Paint, cleaners, insecticides, rat and rodent poison, snail poison, fertilizers, antifreeze, and gasoline represent a handful of poisons and chemicals that you may have in your garage or outdoor shed. Antifreeze, for example, has a sweet taste that attracts animals, but it can be deadly if ingested, even in small amounts. Secure all bottles, boxes, and containers of these substances inside a locked cabinet, or store them on high shelves that your pup can’t reach.
Some plants, such as daffodils, foxglove, bird-of-paradise, and lupine, can be poisonous to your dog and cause varied reactions, ranging from a rash to vomiting and diarrhea. You can find a list of the most commonly encountered toxic plants at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center website.
By taking some time to puppy-proof your house (and keep it puppy-proofed!), you’ll give your new pet a good start with his new family. As he gets older, passes through his developmental phases, and learns basic obedience and manners, you won’t need to be so vigilant with your pick-up routine. Until then, however, it’s better to be safe than sorry!