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Puppy Proofing Your Home

Bringing home a puppy is a special joy for you and your family. Your new companion will be curious and eager to explore his new territory rather quickly. Of course, letting him roam freely can lead to unwanted behaviors. Because you can’t always keep an eye on your puppy, it’s important to monitor his activity and assign him to a room of your choice. That will allow you to stop him from chewing up a new pair of shoes or knocking over a house plant.

By making a few additional changes to your household, you can provide your puppy with a safe environment to live in.

Boy plays with puppy

Items to keep away from your puppy

  • Medications, vitamins, pill bottles, dental floss, razors, and cotton balls
  • Small objects your puppy could chew on, such as paper clips, floss, needles, toys, rubber bands, coins, and twist ties
  • Plastic bags
  • Toxic house plants, including philodendron, mistletoe, and poinsettia
  • Toxic garden plants, including lily, azalea, daffodil, tomato, and hydrangea
  • Household cleaners and automotive chemicals
  • Herbicides and rat poison can be extremely dangerous; do not use unless absolutely necessary

Other puppy proofing tips

  • Make sure trash cans are covered or enclosed in a cabinet
  • Secure electrical cords and wires to a wall or baseboard
  • Secure lamps, decorations, and other fragile items that your puppy could pull down
  • Keep food stored and out of your puppy’s reach
  • Cover toilet lids so your puppy doesn’t fall in or drink from the bowl
  • Secure dangling blind and curtain cords out of reach
  • Clean up any antifreeze spills in the garage
  • Cover all air and heating vents
  • Block any small spaces or holes your puppy could get stuck in
  • Install puppy gates to keep him from certain rooms and stairwells
  • Put a bed in each room you allow your puppy to go in to deter him from jumping on your furniture
  • Provide chew toys to keep your puppy distracted from other temptations
  • Use childproof latches to keep your puppy out of cabinets with dangerous items
  • Reinforce any weak spots in outdoor fences
  • Stock up on enzymatic cleaners specifically designed for cleaning up messes

It’s also always a good idea to clear off low shelves or tables that you might keep home décor on that is within easy reach of your dog. This will help prevent them from stealing small items and things like magazines and books off these low areas. For larger dogs, they can grow quickly and surprise you how easily they can get their little noses up on higher surfaces; being prepared for this ahead of time will help eliminate any chance of them stealing off the dinner table or kitchen counter.

After you’ve followed these steps, give your house and yard another once-over to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Lie down on the floor to get a puppy’s-eye view of your surroundings. If you see anything that he could potentially chew up or crawl into, remove or block it from him.

Leaving your puppy unattended

You obviously can’t be with your puppy 24/7—you need time to sleep, go to work, and spend occasional time away from home. One option to keep him safe and out of trouble is to crate train or keep him in a room without carpet or furniture (for example, a laundry room). Be sure to leave him with plenty of toys to occupy his time, along with water, a bed, and newspaper in case of accidents. Odorless air freshener will also help keep your room smelling clean, just make sure to keep them out of his reach.

When possible don’t leave him unattended for too long—dogs are highly social animals and require attention and love. When you are home and allowing your puppy to roam free in the house or in a room try to constantly keep an eye on him and give him praise when he is being good. This will help him understand good behaviors, and allow you to quickly stamp out unwanted behaviors.

Puppy proofing a home will teach your puppy his limits early on and help him lead a fuller, happier life with you. Then, slowly as he matures, he will learn what behaviors are acceptable and which aren’t. He is your child, and as he becomes more responsible you can make the decision to allow him more freedoms. This can include things like sleeping in the bedroom with you at night or not confining him while you’re at work.

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