by Mark Asher
It’s understandable if you’re super excited about bringing your puppy home for the first time. But before your new pup walks through the front door, you need to make sure that your home is a safe haven. To accomplish this, a puppy-proofing home makeover will be necessary to remove temptations and to identify hidden, dangerous situations you might not have considered. This guide will walk you through how to dog-proof your home. And once you’ve done the basics, you’ll learn how to level up by creating a safe space for your dog.
Puppy-proofing checklist: Tuck it away
A puppy’s curiosity for life is at an all-time high in its first year and it can get her into trouble. Anticipate that your new furry family member will want to explore her new surroundings and remove dangerous temptations. The following puppy-proofing checklist will provide you with 12 items that you definitely want to keep out of your puppy’s paws.
Keep all medicines far away from your curious puppy. Numerous human medications are toxic to pets—both prescribed and over-the-counter. These include basic NSAIDs (like Advil), many vitamins and supplements, pain reliever medicines (like Tylenol), antidepressants, ADHD medicines, sleep aids, anxiety medications, birth control, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, thyroid medications and cholesterol medicine.1 Even if your dog is prescribed something similar, the dosage for you is likely toxic for him. So lock away all that with childproof locks.
Did you know that batteries are dangerous to dogs?2 Sure, you might keep some spares next to your remote, but now that your puppy’s coming home, you need to store those where she can’t reach them. Puppies love chewing, and batteries are tempting targets. If punctured, alkaline batteries can burn your puppy’s throat, mouth or stomach. If swallowed, it can block her intestines or become caustic.
Never give a puppy a toy with button batteries in it. These types of batteries are commonly found in kid toys. It goes without saying that they’re not meant for dogs, the batteries and the toys that is.
Maybe you’re safely locking away everything dangerous. But it can be easy to forget about that toxic food or dead battery that you tossed in the trash. Dogs are notorious for wanting to chew through trash bags to see what’s inside.3 While the bags are in the house, keep them in childproof trash cans or behind puppy gates.
There are numerous products designed to protect toddlers and help secure under sink cabinet doors or prevent lids from opening. These childproofing gadgets are super useful when you have a smart, curious puppy too.
When you take the bags outside, throw them directly into the outdoor trash bin. Don’t leave them sitting around on the ground.
During your pup’s first year or while potty training, temporarily remove any expensive rugs and put down inexpensive runners. Otherwise, these rugs may become victims of pee puddles or bite marks. Of course, you’ll also want to have an enzymatic carpet safe spray on hand for when accidents do occur. Clean up any poop accidents right away so your puppy doesn’t eat it.
5. Electrical cords
Be sure to enclose any wires from electrical devices like televisions and computers in chew-resistant PVC casings. Chewing on a plugged-in cord can electrocute your pup and cause severe mouth burns and congestion in the lungs called non-cardiogenic edema.
6. Purses, backpacks, and other bags
Keep purses, backpacks and other bags away from your curious puppy. Often, this will mean storing them on a top shelf in a closet, where your furry friend can’t reach them. Purses and bags often have unsafe items in them that could be toxic (like candy, chewing gum or tobacco products) or items that are small enough to cause choking.
7. Harmful gardening tools and other backyard items
You’ll need to hide a lot of things in your yard that could be harmful to your pup. Begin puppy proofing your yard by making sure it’s fenced and that there are no escape routes your pup can find. That includes fencing around a pool (if you have one) so your pup can’t get to it. A dog with a desire to dig can get through openings that will surprise you.
The first couple of times you let out your dog in the yard, follow him closely to see which areas he gravitates to. You may find that you are unable to leave him unsupervised outside for the first several months to a year until he is trustworthy.
Just as food in the kitchen can be a problem for pets, so can plants in the garden. There are numerous plants that can harm your pup. Compost, cocoa-based mulches, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers as well as snail and slug bait can also cause trouble for your dog. Your first line of defense is keeping these items stored away safely and out of reach.
You’ll also want to make sure that all your gardening tools are stored away safely too. You don’t want your puppy getting into anything sharp or dangerous.
8. Poisonous products in your garage
Never leave your puppy unsupervised in the garage unless it’s been thoroughly puppy-proofed. Too many temptations exist! Common chemicals kept in the garage can be extremely toxic to pets. Make sure pesticides, gasoline, solvents, antifreeze, coolants and oils are either high up or in a closed cabinet. The same is true for small things, like screws, nuts, bolts and nails. If you live in a snowy climate, be aware that de-icing compounds may also contain dangerous chemicals, so look for ones that are safe for pets. In general, a garage is not a safe place for animals.
9. Toilet water
Remember to keep toilet lids down. Drinking out of a toilet can be unhealthy for dogs, or dangerous if you use chemicals to disinfect and clean the bowl.
10. Toxic foods, candies, and plants
You’d be surprised at all the foods and candies that are toxic to dogs. Check out our detailed article on the 20 foods dogs can’t eat to get familiar with what your puppy should avoid. This includes all chocolates and even sugar-free gum and candy. The sugar-free sweetener Xylitol can lead to seizures, life threatening hypoglycemia, liver failure and even death in dogs.5
You’ll also want to store away, or hang out of reach, any toxic houseplants. This requires some research to know what’s safe and what’s not. Even when not toxic, the dirt in the bottom of the planter can be very tempting to play in, creating a huge mess and potentially damaging the plant as well.
11. Secure laundry and cleaning items
Don’t forget to dog-proof the laundry room, along with any cleaning items you keep elsewhere. Many of these household items are toxic to dogs. Laundry detergents and laundry pods, as well as fabric softeners can be dangerous to dogs, and so can chlorine, ammonia, drain cleaners, and more.6 Keep your pup away when you’re using them, and lock them away safely when you’re not.
12. Other small items
Becoming a tidy housekeeper can save you from expensive visits to the vet if your puppy gets into toxic things or ingests foreign bodies. Remove any small items on tabletops that can be chewed and make sure your kitchen and bathroom trash cans have secure lids. Stash small items like needles, thread, hair ties, jewelry, coins, buttons, rubber bands and mothballs out of paw’s reach.
It may take a few extra minutes in your day but get into the habit of putting away your stuff right after use. It’s far easier than trying to coax things from a pet determined to destroy them. Get in the habit of completely closing all closet, bedroom and bathroom doors to prevent any puppy misadventures. Place dirty clothes in a pet proof hamper.
Assume that your puppy thinks anything within reach is fair game for chewing on, including shoes, remote controls, sunglasses, etc!