Before you bring your dog or puppy home, you’ll need to make your home safe for him. Puppy Proofing It’s a lot like child-proofing for a toddler. But in this case, you have a kid with teeth who will taste and chew just about anything and everything.
Puppies are destructive little critters. As with children, it’s the very nature of a puppy to explore. Unfortunately, like infants, puppies use their mouths to explore, and they pick up everything. And of course, anything that is picked up gets chewed and swallowed.
How to Puppy Proof your House
Consequently, if you have a cluttered home or lots of knickknacks, you’re going to have to do some cleaning and rearranging. Begin by taking a look around your home at a puppy’s level. Get on your hands and knees and look for anything that might be tempting.
Things with strings or tassels, glittery knickknacks, and objects your Puppy can easily reach are all prime targets. Electrical and curtain cords are also very enticing—and dangerous. Hide them or put them out of reach of inquisitive mouths.
Even if you adopt an adult dog, you don’t know the dog’s habits. Many dogs are turned in to animal shelters and rescue groups because of behavior problems. Those problems include destructive chewing. For whatever reason, the owners couldn’t be bothered with retraining the dog.
Puppy Proofing your Room
After you have determined where your dog is going to stay, be sure you’ve dog-proofed all areas of your home that your dog will be allowed in. Some owners like to start with a few rooms and gradually allow the dog in other rooms in the house. It gives them time to see what the dog will actually get into before allowing her into other rooms in the house.
Will you have to do all this Puppy-proofing? Probably not. However, overkill is best when you don’t know what your dog will get into. Some things people think are safe from the dogs end up not being so. So, err on the side of caution when you first get your dog until you learn what she can or can’t get into.
Puppy-Proofing Inside the House
When you begin to dog-proof your house, look in areas that may present the most hazards, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Anything that has enticing items that can be pulled to the floor and chewed may be a danger.
The following checklists will help you spot and fix dangers in your house in general and in specific parts of your house. Extra blanks are provided so you can add to these lists as needed.
Here is a general list of items to look for throughout your house:
- Alcohol of all sorts—very poisonous to dogs. Bathroom cleaners and shower cleaners. Batteries. Candles. Cell phones. Children’s toys, especially those with small pieces that can be chewed off or swallowed.
- Chocolate—extremely toxic to dogs (dark chocolate is more poisonous than milk chocolate). Dental floss—can become lodged in the throat or intestines.
- Electrical cords. Garbage pails. Glass knickknacks. Grapes and raisins (toxic to some dogs). Houseplants. Irons and ironing boards. Kitchen knives.
- Medications—including ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and aspirin—and vitamins. Onions—can cause anemia. Pennies—can cause “penny poisoning” due to the zinc content. Pens, paper, paper clips, and other small items that may be chewed or swallowed.
- Plates and glasses—can be knocked over. Scented soaps, potpourri, scented plug-in air fresheners, and other air fresheners. Sewing needles, spools of thread, and craft kits.
- Shampoo, conditioner, and mouthwash. Socks and other clothing items—can be chewed or swallowed whole and cause obstruction. Suntan lotion and insect repellents. Toothpaste—extremely toxic to dogs.
Puppy-Proofing the Garage
Garages are full of toxic chemicals such as antifreeze and pesticides and may also contain dangerous items such as tools and nails.
The garage should be off-limits to your Puppy, but just in case she gets into it, you should keep a number of items out of reach:
- Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid (and any on the garage floor).
- Batteries. Lawn and garden chemicals.
- Mouse and rat poisons (These poisons are still dangerous if your dog eats a mouse or rat that has eaten the poison.)
- Nails, screws, and other hardware that can be ingested. Paint and paint remover.
- Saws and other tools that may be sharp
Puppy-Proofing the Backyard
The backyard can be a source of danger for dogs. Both exotic and indigenous plants can be poisonous. You should periodically check your backyard for possible hazards and loose areas in your fencing.
Check your backyard for the following hazards and correct them if possible:
High decks—the dog can accidentally jump from them. Lawn and garden chemicals—can be absorbed through paw pads or licked off fur. Mushrooms and other fungi—many are toxic or even deadly. Sharp edging—can cut paws.
Stones—many dogs love to eat small rocks and gravel that can lodge in intestines. Swimming pools—should be fenced in or otherwise made off-limits to the dog.
Toxic plants—these are too numerous to list them all but include evergreen plants such as holly and pods from the black locust tree.
The list above names more plants that are toxic to dogs. Contact your local poison control center or state agricultural office for a list of poisonous plants in your area.
- Dogs can be hurt by a number of household items, so it’s important to Puppy-proof your house and yard before you bring your new dog home.
- Look for and pick up anything that your puppy might be able to chew.
- Keep all dangerous substances away from your dog.