Puppies have a way of finding their way into everything, which makes it especially important to prepare your home before opening your doors to a new pet. Make sure you take the following precautions to ensure a safe environment for your poky little puppy.
1. Lock away dangerous substances
A typical household has an abundance of dangerous chemicals that a puppy might accidentally ingest. Designate secure spots for cleaning products, laundry detergent, aerosol, lotions, perfumes, makeup, medication, and cigarettes -- same goes for handbags or totes that can contain any number of these items. Mouse and rat poison are especially dangerous to dogs, and should be removed before you bring your puppy home.
2. Close off cabinets
Dogs may not have opposable thumbs, but that won’t keep them from nosing around your cabinets, closets, and under the bathroom sink. Consider installing childproof latches on cabinet doors, and be especially mindful of cabinets or closets where pet food and dog treats are stored.
3. Keep the lid down
Unfortunately, jokes about dogs drinking from toilets are rooted in reality. The loo is not only a breeding ground for bacteria -- it’s also full of cleaning chemicals that aren’t safe to slurp. Train everyone in your home to shut toilet lids after use, and keep your puppy’s water bowl full and in an accessible and familiar area so your puppy doesn’t seek out water elsewhere.
4. Stow away cords and electronics
Keep that tasty iPod or remote control off Fido’s radar by doing a full sweep of electronics. First, make sure cables and wires from lamps, computers, telephones, and anything else plugged into the walls are untangled and as discretely placed as possible. Cord organizers and electrical tape can keep things neat and unappealing to a pet. Be extra sure to tuck away wires that dangle down from lamps or televisions to avoid such items being pulled down. Place baskets in high areas where everyone can store and return remote controls, and be mindful of electronic children’s toys that always seem to end up on the floor or coffee table.
5. Keep human food out of range
Puppies will not resist food within their reach. From open trash cans to that nice bowl of fruit on your table to the bag of chips sitting on the sofa, if it’s within chomping distance, then it’s fair game. Human vittles can bring on upset stomachs and vomiting, and even worse, foods like chocolate and grapes are toxic to dogs. Dogs can also become sick from ingesting wrappers and packaging. Make sure everyone in the family keeps an eye on their plates, and swap open candy dishes for jars that close. Even if you decide to share non-toxic table food with your puppy, it’s important to set boundaries so that your kitchen doesn’t become an open buffet.
6. Remove poisonous plants
Cats more commonly chew household plants, but that doesn’t mean a curious dog won’t decide to gnaw on your potted calla lily. Don’t risk that chance with your puppy -- move or remove potentially dangerous indoor and outdoor plants. Plants and flowers commonly toxic to dogs include daffodils, aloe, azaleas, mums, tulips, varieties of lilies, sago palm, and hydrangeas. Tobacco and marijuana plants are also poisonous to dogs.
7. Don’t let prized possessions become chew toys
Chewing is a natural behavior of all puppies. They chew while they are teething, to alleviate sore gums, and also to explore the world around them. But puppies will chew indiscriminately, which can wreak havoc on anything from your lucky hat to your antique couch. Unless you want to find a favorite pair of heels gnawed off, make sure shoes are stored away. Same goes for clothing, jewelry, stuffed animals -- you get the picture. Keep plenty of toys available for your dog to chew on, and choose ones that your pet will not mistake for other household items. If your pup can’t get enough of your end table, use a taste deterrents for furniture.
8. Prepare other pets for your pup’s arrival
If you have other pets, take precautions when your new pup arrives. Read up on how to best introduce your puppy to specific types of animals in your home to minimize conflict. And make sure other pets’ cages, tanks, and pens are not accessible to your dog without supervision, and that they cannot be knocked over accidentally.
9. Dog-proof your yard
Once the inside of your home is puppy-proofed, it’s time consider the other spaces your dog will paw around. Depending on the layout of your yard and its proximity to streets and neighbors, consider installing or updating a fence. Protect your garden by partitioning it off, remove plants that are toxic to dogs, and be sure to clear away sharp objects, gardening tools, and any old junk and toys. Lastly, consider removing unstable objects like birdbaths or broken lawn furniture that your dog might topple over.
10. Don’t forget to puppy-proof the garage
Garages typically store items we want to keep out of the way, making it one of the most dangerous places for a puppy. Keep any dangerous chemicals in your garage out of reach, like paint, motor oil, plant food, and antifreeze. Antifreeze is especially dangerous to dogs -- just drops can severely damage their kidneys -- so be vigilant about cleaning spills from the floor. And always keep sharp objects, cables, and tools secure as well.
More on Puppy Care
Puppy Care Basics
Parvo in Puppies
How to Buy Puppy Supplies You'll Actually Use