There are few things more exciting than bringing home a new furry family member, especially at Christmas or other gift giving times.
It’s a chance to build a strong bond with an intuitive being that will be completely devoted to you. But do you know how to puppy proof your house in preparation for the new arrival?
Imagine preparing your home for a visit from your friend and her toddler…or a baby who’s just learned to crawl or toddle about getting into everything they shouldn’t.
That’s what you’re signing up for when you bring home a puppy.
But while you and your friend will be there to monitor their child, and comfort them when they’re distressed – or gently distract and guide them when they get in trouble – you must realize and accept that YOU are the sole source of safety, guidance, and comfort for your puppy’s needs.
And unlike your friend and her baby, your puppy will be with you every day, all day long for the rest of their life.
It’s important to consider the physical and emotional health of your new pack member…
If you do intend to surprise your children with a pet this holiday season, make sure to think past the initial “big surprise” of Christmas day and to the days and months and years after that.
How to puppy proof your house in 5 easy steps
Pets bring great joy and unconditional love to a home…and, in the early going, a certain amount of chaos.
But it doesn’t take long for them to weave themselves into your life and form a bond with you.
Get off on the right foot with your new family member by taking these five steps to puppy proof your house.
1. Make your puppy feel at home.
Your puppy has an acute sense of smell…it’s one of the key ways in which dogs interpret the world around them.
If you’re getting your puppy from a breeder, ask them to put a towel, blanket or pillow from your house into the puppy’s kennel where they sleep a few days before they come home with you. It will help them learn your scent, and then give them something familiar on their first few nights away from their kennel. It will also gather scent from their mother and siblings which will also be comforting their first time away from their birth home.
If you’re adopting a dog from a shelter, they’ll probably send you home with a blanket or toy that has been with the puppy since they arrived.
Everything will be new and foreign to them…any olfactory cues you can give them to make them feel safe will ease the transition.
2. Assess the risk in your home.
Just like having an inquisitive toddler in your home, puppies don’t know about the hazards to their health…and since they’re teething, they’ll lick, chew or sample anything.
You might look a bit silly, but go around the house on your hands and knees and interpret your living space from your pet’s perspective. Consider putting child locks on kitchen and bathroom cupboards, and be mindful of doors that can’t be closed securely…
Can they nudge open the laundry room door and get at the detergent pods or fabric softener sheets?
Do you leave your shoes or slippers laying around? Beyond the inconvenience and frustration of having your favorite loafers chewed beyond repair, they’ll be ingesting toxic material that could lead to serious health issues.
Can they get their noses into the garbage can? Remember, something that smells like garbage to you might smell like a delicious treat to your inquisitive, perpetually hungry puppy.
And, speaking of meals…
3. Choose the menu carefully.
It’s true that puppies will eat just about anything…but that doesn’t mean they should.
Be sure to get a supply of the food they were eating before they left their kennel or shelter, and slowly blend in the food you intend to give them during their early development. Their digestive system will need time to adjust to the new food.
You’re welcome to feed your puppy table scraps as long as the food scrap is healthy for them, AND as long as you use proper training to guide them in how to behave.
If not, they’ll develop bad habits around your dinner table and in your kitchen when they start to associate the smell of human food with their meal routine and handouts.
Don’t give your puppy the benefit of reason, either. They’ll quickly inhale chocolate, onions, grapes and raisins without knowing they can be toxic to their system.
Don’t try to cut corners with their diet. Just like humans, healthy food leads to better overall health…so if you think you’re saving money by feeding them an economical (cheap) brand of kibble, you’re setting your puppy up for poor health along with big vet bills down the road.
4. Minimize electrical hazards.
Puppies are little predators at heart. Every cord looks like a snake or lizard to them…something to conquer and consume.
Invest in some cable ties, cable covers and mounting hardware to keep cords fastened securely to the wall, or under rugs and furniture where they can’t be reached by curious chewing machines.
As you will discover, they’re teething and, like a baby cutting new teeth, will look for anything to gnaw on to relieve the pain and ‘scratch that itch’…
5. Safeguard the china.
There are a variety of reasons a dog will wag their tail. It’s not always a sign of pleasure…sometimes it can be a signal that your puppy is feeling anxious or threatened.
Whatever the reason, a puppy tail can be a recipe for disaster. And, they’ll get the zoomies and bound around the house with reckless abandon.
Healthy happy dogs don’t have a vindictive bone in their bodies…so it won’t be fair to get angry with them for anything they might knock over and break if you left it in harm’s way.
When you can’t modify the behavior, modify the environment.
Move anything breakable out of their reach…china, ornaments, photos, even your Christmas tree should be decorated with your puppy in mind.
If you really want to puppy proof your house, you’ll give up some of the features that they can’t help attacking or knocking over.
Later when they’ve settled into adulthood and know the house rules, you might be able to bring them out again.
Now you know how to puppy proof your house! You’ve set yourself and your dog up for a long happy healthy life together
Dogs have a uniquely wonderful way of interpreting their environment. If you take the time to puppy proof your house with your dog’s sensibilities in mind, you’ll enjoy a wonderful, safe relationship with them.
Give them time, and a safe space, to adjust to their new surroundings. And try to put yourself in their shoes – or paws – when looking around your home.
They won’t be wild, uninhibited risk-seekers for their whole lives. Be patient. The time you invest in the early going will pay off down the road.
And, check the dryer before you start a cycle…puppies love little caves, and dryers look like the perfect space to take a nap!
If you’d like to learn how to form a more meaningful bond with your dog, consider learning how to hone your skills.
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