Welcoming a new puppy into your home is an exciting time, filled with joy, adventure, and tons of snuggles.
However, as adorable and playful as they may be, puppies can also be quite mischievous and curious, often exploring their surroundings in ways that could pose a risk to both themselves and your property. As a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to prepare your home and yard for the arrival of your four-legged friend.
Just as baby-proofing a house is crucial for the safety of a young child, a puppy-proof environment ensures the well-being of your new furry family member.
Our comprehensive guide for 2023 offers valuable advice on how to properly puppy-proof your home and yard to create a safe haven for your pup. Following these steps will not only protect your puppy from common household hazards, but also minimize potential damage to your belongings and grant you the peace of mind needed to fully enjoy the delightful journey of raising a canine companion.
So, let’s dive in and discover how you can transform your home into a puppy-friendly paradise, all while looking out for potential risks and hazards with expert tips and advice tailored for the upcoming year.
Why Puppy-proofing Is Essential
As the saying goes, “curiosity killed the cat.” But in our case, it’s more fitting to say that a puppy’s curiosity could lead them into situations that spell danger. Comparable to young children, puppies have this irrepressible need to explore their surroundings. While this is an essential part of their growth and learning process, it can often result in them getting into situations they can’t handle.
Puppies, due to their playful nature and lack of knowledge about what’s safe and what’s not, may inadvertently turn household items into dangerous objects. Everyday items such as medicines, cleaning products, wires, and even certain types of plants can pose a significant threat to them. Outside in the yard, there are additional risks, including poisonous plants, harmful substances, and small openings in fences that a determined puppy might exploit to escape.
Puppy-proofing ensures that these common household hazards are out of your pup’s reach. It is a necessary measure to maintain your puppy’s health and safety, and it could potentially save you from costly vet bills resulting from injuries or poisonings.
Furthermore, puppy-proofing isn’t just about protecting your pup; it’s also about safeguarding your home. Puppies can be quite destructive, chewing on furniture, shoes, and other objects as a part of their teething process. A well puppy-proofed house considers these behaviours, protecting your belongings from puppy-induced damage.
Considering the potential hazards and mishaps, puppy-proofing has become not just a proactive measure but an absolute necessity for new and seasoned dog owners alike. By puppy-proofing your home, you’ll be providing a safer environment for your puppy to grow, learn, and flourish while ensuring the security of your property at the same time.
How To Puppy-Proof Your Home
Puppy-proofing your home is the first step in ensuring your furry friend’s safety. This comprehensive guide will help you transform your unique space into a secure environment through a few simple yet effective measures.
- Secure loose wires: Puppies naturally love to chew. Ensure all loose wires, from TVs, or lamps, or phones are kept out of their reach. Consider investing in cord protectors or conduit tubing to guard these wires. Did you know Electrical cords are one of the single most common item puppies eat?
- Remove small, chewable objects: Keep small objects like remote controls, shoes, children’s toys, and anything else small enough to swallow well out of reach.
- Furniture corners: Install furniture edge bumpers, similar to the ones used for baby-proofing, to prevent injuries from sharp furniture corners.
It’s a good start to know what toxic foods are for dogs,
- Lock away cleaning supplies: Household cleaning supplies can be harmful to puppies. Ensure all such products are securely locked away in cabinets.
- Trash cans: Invest in a trash can with a secure, locking lid or keep it stored inside a cabinet.
- Appliance safety: Make it a habit to keep appliances such as dishwashers, ovens, and refrigerators closed when not in use. Puppies have a knack for squeezing into the smallest of spaces!
- Clear the counters: Counter surfing happens way quicker than you think because human food is way tastier than chew toys!
- Cat litter box: this one is a mega temptation for a new pet, and whilst it’s not going to cause serious harm, it’s also damn gross.
- Place lids on toilet bowls: Puppies may be inclined to drink from the toilet bowl, which can be unhygienic and potentially harmful. Close that toilet lid when not in use to deter this behavior.
- Store away medication and grooming supplies: human medications, personal grooming supplies like razors, and the commonly shredded toilet paper should all be stored in a location inaccessible to your puppy. And hair ties need to find a safe space out of your dog’s reach.
- Prevent access under the bed: Use mesh or lattice panels to restrict access under the bed. Small puppies can easily crawl under these spaces, making it challenging for you to retrieve them.
- Cover power strips: Power strips with multiple cords can be captivating to a curious puppy. Use power strip covers to keep them safe.
- Secure cosmetics and jewelry: Important items like jewelry or cosmetics left on bedside tables and vanities should be securely stored in containers that your puppy cannot open.
- De-icer & cleaning supplies: these are some of the most problematic things in your home, so ensure that if puppy doesn’t go in there alone, and when exploring new environments, we’re always in reach of your puppy.
Remember, each house and each puppy is unique, so your puppy-proofing efforts should be tailored to your home and your pup’s behavior. While the steps above cover the basics, it’s always important to observe and adapt to unique situations that may present extra risks to your new bundle of joy.
This Heavy Duty playpen even works for my fully grown dogs – we don’t pull it out often, but it’s a real help!
If you’re looking to close off a wide area, or to create a pen within room? This is perfect.
This crate is a nice, hard wearing crate, and you can also get a divider for it, which makes potty training for a growing pup super simple!
How to Puppy-Proof Your Yard
Your puppy will spend a significant amount of time exploring and playing in your yard. Creating a safe outdoor environment is crucial for their well-being. Below are some essential steps to puppy-proof your yard.
Gardens and Lawns
- Avoid toxic plants: Some common plants can be hazardous to dogs, like lilies, sago palm, and oleander. Research which plants need to be removed from your garden or ensure they are out of your puppy’s reach.
- Fertilizer and pesticide safety: When choosing and applying lawn care products, opt for pet-friendly options. Keep your puppy away from newly treated areas until the products have completely dried or been absorbed.
- Properly store gardening tools: Tools like rakes, shovels, and pruners (and other sharp objects) can be dangerous. Store them securely when not in use.
Pools, Ponds & Hot Tubs
Remember, some breeds (think frenchies, bulldogs and a number of the bully breeds) do not float! In order to make this a safe environment, and when we consider then pool chemicals (which certainly fall under toxic substances!)? Ponds, pools & hot tubs all need to be supervised with young pups.
- Check for gaps and holes: Regularly inspect your fencing and repair any gaps or holes that your puppy might exploit to escape.
- Secure gates: Ensure your gates are self-closing and self-latching to minimize the risk of your puppy slipping through.
- Height consideration: Evaluate the height of your fence, taking your puppy’s breed and size into account. Some dogs can easily scale a low fence, making escape prevention a priority.
Safe plants and removal of unsafe ones
- Banish toxic and potentially dangerous plants: Research the plants in your garden and remove any that pose a danger to your pup.
- Encourage safe exploration: Incorporate pet-friendly plants in your garden, like lavender and chamomile, to create a welcoming environment for your puppy.
Garbage and Compost
- Secure compost bins: Compost heaps can contain dangerous food waste, such as moldy food or coffee grounds, so it’s crucial to keep your puppy away from them. Invest in a secure compost bin and consider placing a fence around the area.
- Trash can security: Ensure outdoor garbage cans have a tight-fitting lid to prevent your curious pup from rummaging through potentially dangerous waste.
By taking these precautions to puppy-proof your yard, you’ll create a safe outdoor haven for your furry friend to explore, play, and enjoy. Continually monitor your puppy’s behavior and the state of your yard, adjusting your strategies as needed to maintain a secure environment.
Keeping it Safe
Puppy-proofing your home isn’t a one-time task, but an ongoing process that adapts to your puppy’s growth and learning. Let’s delve into how you can ensure your home remains puppy-proofed.
1 – Regular Checks and Updates
- Frequent home inspections: Conduct regular checks around your house to identify potential hazards. Look for loose cords, unsecured cabinets, or small objects your puppy could swallow. Remember, as your puppy grows, so will their ability to reach new areas.
- Constant yard checks: Regularly inspect your yard for potential risks. Look out for signs of toxic plant ingestion, holes in the fenced area, and ensure all tools are securely tucked away.
2 – Managing Kids and Puppies
- Teach your kids: Educate your children about the importance of keeping doors closed, not leaving small toys or other chewable objects around, and safely storing their personal belongings. It’s crucial for all family members to participate in maintaining a puppy-proof environment.
- Monitor playtime: Be attentive during playtime involving kids and your puppy. Kids can forget the size and strength of their new friend and accidentally leave out items that are hazardous to your puppy.
3 – Training: The Key to Safety
Positive reinforcement training can be a powerful tool for keeping your home puppy-proofed.
- Teach commands: Basic commands like “leave it” or “drop it” can be essential in preventing your puppy from chewing or swallowing dangerous items. Start this training as soon as possible, and be consistent.
- Use distraction techniques: If your pup becomes determined to chew or dig in undesired areas, redirect them to appropriate toys or play areas.
- Crate training: When properly introduced, a crate can serve as a safe place for your puppy while you’re unable to supervise them.
4 – Consider Professional Help
If you’re finding it challenging to maintain a secure environment, consider reaching out to a local dog trainer or animal behaviorist. They can provide advice tailored to your home and your puppy’s specific needs.
In summary, maintaining a puppy-proof home requires consistent effort, training, and family cooperation. Being vigilant and adapting as your puppy grows will ensure that your home continues to be a safe and enjoyable environment for your adventurous furry friend.
5 – Give Appropriate Outlets
Giving pup appropriate ways to chew is the single best way to ensure curious pups don’t get into things they shouldn’t. Pet parents so often forget that our pups need to chew so we have to fulfil that need before they start chewing on rubber bands, plastic bags or whatever you leave laying around your living room. And even better? Make sure that you give them a texture that is similar to what they want to chew!
These chews are really interesting, they last for ages, and dogs tend to love them.
We love these as a special treat, we don’t give them often, but they really do help relax dogs and bring them to a stage I call “Chew drunk”, because chewing releases endorphins for dogs and soothes them. So these are a wonderful choice.
(Warning, watch your pup the first few times, strong chewers or greedy guts can be tempted to chomp it into a few pieces and just swallow it down)
These are another single ingredient chew that’s bound to keep puppy focused and entertained. Whilst chews are never a replacement for a play session, this one comes close because of just how darn tasty they are!
These are root chunks from some heavy duty trees, and they crumble as opposed to splinter, so totally safe to ingest – which is awesome if you have a little pup who just can’t leave the wooden furniture alone.
Redirect puppy to this, and you’ll see puppy focus on the permitted chew, as opposed to the illegal chew, and it’ll give pup the texture they’re craving!
Puppy Proofing Isn’t Just A One-Off
Puppy-proofing your home is an essential step in integrating a new furry family member into your life. By following these guidelines, you can create a safe and welcoming environment that allows for your puppy to explore, play, and learn with confidence.
Remember, the process is not just a one-time task but a continuous journey that evolves as your puppy grows and develops. By staying vigilant, involving the whole family, and consistently training your pup, you can ensure a harmonious and secure living space for everyone. So, embark on this rewarding adventure with your furry companion, knowing that your puppy-proofed home sets the groundwork for a lifetime of love, happiness, and wagging tails.
And, whilst you’re here? Grab our puppy-proofing checklist!
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!