Think of your new dog as a crawling baby. What changes would you make to baby-proof your home? New dogs are curious about their surroundings and liable to get into mischief if left unsupervised, especially puppies. To help prevent your new dog from harming himself or your belongings, it’s important to “puppy-proof” your home. Here are some suggestions:
- Don’t leave your new dog unsupervised, inside or outside. When you leave your house or go to bed at night, keep your dog confined to a safe place inside, such as a crate. Thoroughly inspect this confinement area and remove potential hazards, such as electrical cords or sharp objects. Exposed insulation and electrical outlets can also be enticing to curious pups, so it’s best to keep them covered.
- Move all cleaning supplies, detergents, bleaches, soaps and dryer sheets to a high, preferably locked cabinet out of your dog’s reach.
- The same goes for fertilizers, weed killer, mothballs, antifreeze, pest poison or traps. If you need to apply fertilizer or weed killer in your yard, keep your dog inside and read the manufacturer’s guidelines to determine when it’s safe for your dog to return to the area.
- Remove poisonous plants from your house and yard, or move them out of your dog’s reach.
- If you have a fenced yard, walk the perimeter to make sure there are no gaps in the fence that your dog could squeeze through.
- Keep doors and low windows closed, and do not allow small dogs or puppies on balconies, high porches or decks.
- Keep the toilet lid closed.
- Keep trashcans closed. Keep food scraps in a tall kitchen trashcan with a lid that closes, and take the trash out often.
- Keep all pet food in a secure location so your pets don’t help themselves to extra meals.
- Keep foods like chocolate, grapes and raisins, which are toxic to dogs, on high shelves out of their reach, along with coffee, alcohol, tobacco products and medicines. Be careful not to drop food on the floor, and keep unattended food out of your dog’s reach.
- Plastic bags, foil and plastic wrap can be tempting to dogs, especially when they smell like human food, but they can wreak havoc on dogs’ digestive systems. Plastic bags are also suffocation hazards. Keep them away from your dog at all times.
- Dogs are also drawn to shoes, old books and dental equipment, like retainers, dentures and bite guards. Keep shoes in closed closets, place old books on high bookshelves, and store dental equipment in a medicine cabinet or on a high shelf.
- If a dog can easily fit an object in his mouth, it’s too small and may be a choking hazard. Remove items like hair elastics or pins, sewing supplies, nails and screws, paper clips, and even very small dog and cat toys. Store them in high cabinets out of your dog’s reach.
It’s impossible to prevent all accidents, but preparing your home using these tips (and your gut instincts) will give your new dog the best chance of staying safe.