A Guide To Dog-Proofing Your Home
So you've just adopted a new dog into the family, yay! Now what? The first few days a dog is in a new environment—surrounded by people, smells and sounds that he doesn't recognize—is prime time for escapes and accidents. Your dog may intentionally escape in an effort to look for you if you leave the house, or he may be anxious while you're away and search for something to eat or destroy.
Here's a quick guide to help you dog-proof your home in preparation for a new pup so you can limit the chances of losing or hurting your new family member.
Let's take a look at the common perils in each room of an average home and how you can avoid them causing trouble for your new pup.
The Living Room
Most likely where your home's front entrance is located, the living room is where your pup will find a cozy couch, TV electrical cords, candles, and a busy entrance/exit door. Here are a few things you can do to dog-proof your living room:
- Make sure your front door is closed properly each time you enter or exit.
- Set up a doggie gate in your entryway to create a barrier between the areas of your house your dog should be and the outside, so you limit the risk of your new dog bolting out the front door as people enter and exit.
- Put away all candles, potpourri and other low-lying decor that your dog could potentially ingest.
- Bundle electrical cords and pick them up off the floor so that your puppy can't reach them.
- Make sure to collect and put away children's toys—which are very tempting for young pups, but not safe for them to chew on.
The easiest way to keep your new dog safe from the dangers of the bedroom is to keep the door closed. If you must leave your dog in your bedroom or are not able to close the door to your room, here are some tips to dog-proofing it:
- Put away edible decorations.
- Don't keep any snacks or cosmetics in your bedroom.
- Make sure low windows are securely closed.
- Keep garbage cans empty or remove them from the room entirely.
- For your wardrobe, keep all of your tasty shoes in your closet with the door closed.
- Pick up electrical cords.
The bathroom has an array of objects that can be dangerous for your pup. Every bathroom is different, but here are a few common items to secure when you have a dog in the house. Like the bedroom, the best way to dog-proof your bathroom is to keep the door closed so your dog cannot enter. If you must leave it open, here are some dog-proofing musts:
- Close the toilet—dogs love drinking directly from the bowl. Not only is this slightly gross, but there could be cleaning chemicals that will make your dog sick.
- Take all cosmetics, creams, toothpaste, and medications and put them in a medicine cabinet that is high enough that your dog won't be able to reach.
- Make sure shampoos and soaps that are in the shower are put on a tall rack—dogs will hop into the shower to investigate a shampoo bottle.
- Put all electrical appliances in the cabinets and ensure all the cords are off the ground and the cabinet cannot be nuzzled open by your pup (safety latches can help with that).
- Close the window if it's low enough for your dog to reach when standing on his hind legs.
Dogs are smart. Your new pup will probably learn very quickly that the kitchen is where all the goodies are hidden. Here are a few important boxes to check off when dog-proofing your kitchen:
- Make sure you move any cleaning products or food from the lower cabinets for the first weeks your dog is at home with you—since you won't know if he's a capable cabinet-opener yet. To be on the safe side, it's always best to put things like pots and pans in the lower cabinets and move all edible and cleaning products to a higher spot.
- Move fruit, candy, chocolate, flowers or anything else that usually sits as a placeholder on your kitchen counter or table to a high, sealed spot—even little dogs can jump onto a chair and get up on the table if they smell something yummy atop.
- Make sure your trash can is tightly sealed, you may have to buy a child's lock to keep the lid on in the case that your determined pup manages to knock it over.
The garage can be a rabbit hole of troubles for dogs. From tools and grease, to boxes filled with old clothes, toys and holiday decor, the garage has a lot of tempting items for your pup to explore. Take this time as an opportunity to get your garage organized!
- Replace cardboard boxes with plastic, sealable boxes.
- Remove toxic materials completely or place them in a locked bin and put them out of your pet's reach (antifreeze, paint, rat poison or traps, cleaning solution, oil, etc.)
- Make sure doors that enter to the garage (which may usually be open) remain closed to avoid your pet escaping.
If your pup is lucky, you've brought him home to an open yard where he can spend countless hours running and playing. Let's take a look at some things you can do to make your backyard more pup-friendly:
- Make sure the perimeter fence is high enough that your dog cannot jump over it.
- Don't lean any supplies or trash cans up against the perimeter fence, dogs can turn this scenario into a step-stool to escape.
- If you have a pool, make sure you invest in a pool cover that clips into position and locks closed so your dog cannot nudge it open or move it out of place.
- Don't use any pesticides in your gardening and avoid plants and flowers that can be poisonous for dogs. Keep the Animal Poison Control number on hand in case of emergencies or questions that may come up.
Prepare for messing in the house
Be prepared for a few accidents in the house. Your new dog may take a few days to get used to his new surroundings and may not know where(or how) to ask to go outside. If you're dealing with a puppy, have patience in the housetraining process. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Keep doors to bedrooms and bathrooms closed so that you can confine your pup to the living room or kitchen where you can keep an eye on him more easily.
- Certified professional dog trainer Laura Nativo recommends crate training to help minimize indoor accidents as well as keep your new dog safe when unsupervised. Teaching a dog to feel comfortable in their crate may also help when introducing new dogs or people, or if your dog ever needs to recover from illness or surgery. Buy a crate that's big enough for your dog to stand up and lay down comfortably, but not so big that he can walk from side to side and potentially use one corner as the bed and the other as the toilet! Start out by playing games in the crate with the door open, then leave them in it for shorter time spurts and slowly work up to longer periods of time. Always leave a chew safe bone or stuffed interactive feeder, so that your dog has something to help him relax. Crate your pup when you leave the house to keep them safe and reinforce potty training. Dogs shouldn't be left in the crate for more than a few consecutive hours, and remember, young puppies will need to be let out more often for potty breaks. The crate should never be used as a long term babysitter, or as a place to punish a dog if they've made a mistake or done something naughty. Nativo urges new pet parents to be patient and help your dog associate their crate as a safe and peaceful place to relax or take a nap. If your dog seems overly stressed, consider asking for help from a certified dog trainer.
Make your dog's space
- Dogs need a den-like spot where they feel safe and protected. Invest in a kennel or bed with an enclosure to offer your dog a safe space where he can sleep and relax. As your dog becomes more comfortable with you and his new home, he will be more confident to nap in different areas.
- Set up a designated area for your dog to have some chew toys, water and food bowls and a soft place to lay so he knows where to go for all of his needs.
Make sure to research nearby veterinarians so you have a go-to contact for questions about your dog's behavior or to ask if something could be harmful for him.
The first few days, or even weeks, of owning a new dog can be stressful, but it's also a lot of laughs. It'll take some time for you and your pup to get to know one another—have fun in the process!
Jan 20, 2017