Getting a new fluffy family member is exciting, but there is a lot to remember before bringing a puppy home. One important task is to puppy proof your home, yard and garage. Your home environment should be as safe as possible for your four legged friend who is a curious and playful little creature capable of getting into trouble easily. Owners should remember that puppies are just babies who will not be able to know what is dangerous and what's not, until they have grown up and been trained.
Every home is different, so it's your responsibility to go through yours and scout out all the potential dangers. Here are some general things to consider when puppy proofing your place.
Tip: See also my list of dog supplies to get, so you can be even more prepared for your new puppy.
Begin puppy proofing by getting down on the puppy's eye level. This helps you to see for yourself what possible temptations and dangers there are and what you can do to protect your puppy from them. Try to think like a puppy as you go through your home room by room looking for potential hazards.
Puppies like to chew things, so it's important to make sure they don't have access to electrical cords and outlets. If you can't hide all cords, take proper action to block your puppy's access to them. You could use some kind of cord protectors or place fences around the cables, for example. Think about the fact that cords hanging from counters pose a risk too. Also remember to keep your phone charger and other tech things hidden as well!
Some foods and houseplants are poisonous to dogs. Make sure your new puppy won't accidentally get a taste of an Amaryllis or swallow some chocolate, for example. Do research on plants and foods that are toxic to dogs. You can start by reading my list of poisonous foods for dogs.
Besides food and plants, keep all toxic cleaning supplies, medicine, cosmetics and other non-dog friendly items behind closed doors too. Consider installing childproof latches on your cabinets for additional security.
Puppies are curious creatures and one way for them to explore this world of ours is their mouth. It's important to not leave small objects lying around the house that the puppy could accidentally swallow. Ingesting foreign objects is always a big risk when it comes to dogs. This can be fatal or a surgery may be needed to have the foreign object removed.
Keep your floors clean from socks and other clothes, kids' toys and pretty much everything that a puppy might be interested in.
If you have a shoe rack in your entryway, make sure to temporarely place it somewhere out of puppy's reach. You could put shoes on higher shelves or behind closed doors until your puppy has grown up and knows not to sink his teeth into your sneakers.
When you come home be sure to place your bag, keys and wallet on high enough surfaces that they are out of puppy's reach too.
Besides the floor, take a look at other areas in your home that are accessible to a puppy. For example, do you have a low coffee table in your living room? It's best to not leave remote controls, tissue papers or other items on it until your puppy is trained. The same goes for all other decor and counters with objects that are in puppy's reach.
Declutter your home as much as possible!
Protect your puppy from getting on high surfaces like couches, beds or stairs from where he could fall and hurt himself. Make sure that all furniture is securely attached such as bookcases, dressers and even large mirrors, so they won't be able to fall on your puppy.
Keep all trash bags out of puppy's reach including kitchen trash, bathroom trash and trash in your yard. You don't want your puppy to go through the trash and end up swallowing harmful objects or eating anything that is toxic to him. As previously mentioned, many human foods are poisonous to dogs. For example, did you know that cooked bones are a choking hazard?
If you have a yard, take a look around and see what possible issues there could lie. Is the fence around your property secure? Do you have a pool, pond, creek or maybe a well? Make sure to block your puppy's access to such areas. Are there poisonous plants around? If so, block your puppy's access to them too. Are there any sticks or branches lying around that could hurt your puppy? If so, clean them all away (see my article about sticks). Are there deep holes in the ground? Might be best to cover them all up so your puppy doesn't hurt himself while running and playing around. Some puppies might try to eat soil and pebbles too, so make sure to keep an eye on that as well.
1. Protect your floors
Before your puppy is fully housetrained it is safe to say that accidents will happen. Depending on the floor material in your home, you should take the correct action to protect the floors from puppy's pee and poo. Don't forget to roll away your rugs temporary too, unless you are keen on washing them often!
2. Provide safe chew toys and bones
To avoid having your furniture or other items getting chewed up, always provide your puppy with safe chew toys and puppy safe bones. However, be cautious and always supervise your dog. Some dogs are able to chew up all kind of toys in a short amount of time and they may end up choking or swallowing pieces from it. Swallowing foreign objects can lead to intestinal blockage that can be fatal or need surgery to get it removed.
3. Open doors and windows
Make sure that your puppy won't be able to sneak out from an open door, gate or window to a balcony or open areas and end up getting lost or hurt.
Your puppy is probably microchipped, but it doesn't hurt to have him carry an identity tag as well. Having your phone number on your dog's ID-tag is a good way of increasing his chances of finding back home in the unfortunate case that he goes missing. You can find my selection of easy to personalize ID-tags through my shop page.