How to Puppy Proof Your House: Protect Your New Puppy AND Your Home
It’s important to understand how to puppy proof your house so you can minimize hazards for your puppy and protect your belongings from a curious, and sometimes destructive, little pup.
Are you ready for a new puppy?
The real question is:
Is your HOME ready for a new puppy?
Most 8-week-old puppies seem like a dream when you bring them home, mostly sleeping and not interested in getting into trouble… just yet. By 9 to 10 weeks puppy becomes more playful and curious and begins biting, chewing, and exploring the world with their mouth.
If we really look around we can see that our homes are full of chewing hazards, toxic substances, and other potential risks to both your new puppy and your home!
Puppies accidentally get into toxic plants, find human food that is bad for them, or eat something causing an obstruction, like cushions or pillows. They chew on cords, causing electric shock. All of these are huge hazards – and expensive to address for the home and for the puppy.
We need to protect the puppy from accidental injuries. This could be taking a tumble down the stairs or off the couch, getting wedged somewhere that it’s hard to get out, or falling into a pool.
Don’t despair! With a little preparation, you can significantly minimize these risks.
Just as child-proofing a home when expecting a baby, puppy-proofing is a really important part of preparing for a new pet. Puppies show up already mobile, curious, able, and with the INSTINCT to put things in their mouth.
Yes, it’s scary, but here are things to look out for and tips on managing your space to keep both puppy and your belongings safe and sound.
If your new pup isn’t home yet you can get a head start by following these tips – but even if your puppy is happily playing in a playpen or napping in her crate, you can still look around and puppy proof.
How To Puppy Proof Your House – Indoors and Out
1. Plan ahead to keep it fine!
Always assume the worst will happen and look for ways to prevent it! As we tell our students, “It’s fine… until it’s not fine.” Plan ahead to keep it fine!
2. Remove temptation
Keep your home tidy as part of your puppy’s total wellness plan. This means that all enticing things like shoes, socks, children’s toys get put away and kept out of reach.
Check each floor in every room where a puppy might have access for risks. Walk around each room and remove or pick up anything loose that’s lower than the height of a kitchen table.
Explain to other family members, even small children, their role in keeping this wonderful new family member safe while protecting their own belongings at the same time.
3. Curtail unwanted chewing
Inside your home, the major risks for chewing and destruction are things that look fun to chew:
- Cords from blinds or curtains
- Electrical wire and cords
- Cables for your electronic devices
- Throw pillows
- Socks, slippers, laundry, and towels
- Other soft things that would be comfy to chew!
How to Puppy Proof Wire, Cords, and Cables
Puppies love to chew on cords but sadly many have gotten electrocuted or strangled.
Keep cords and cables out of puppy’s reach by winding the cords up in small loops and tying them so puppy can’t get her head caught.
You can also use plastic safety channels to cover cords that run across the floor or along a wall to protect both the wires and the puppy.
And you can be creative and use furniture – like bookcases, cabinets, or side tables – as barriers.
How to Puppy Proof Medications, Vitamins, and Other Supplements
Medications, vitamins, and other supplements – both human and animal – cause many puppies and dogs to get sick or worse. Make your home into a “Drug-Free Zone” by storing all medications and supplements in a closed drawer or secure cabinet.
It’s also best to keep human and canine medications separate to prevent accidents.
As your puppy’s trainer, you can be sure to provide safe and enticing chewing alternatives to prevent boredom – and manage the space so puppy is kept away from danger.
How to Puppy Proof Cleaning Supplies and Other Household Chemicals
Curious puppies are drawn to explore new, interesting smells and they are masters at getting into places you would never imagine they might go! It doesn’t take long for a puppy to learn that there is a wealth of new smells and tastes behind doors and inside drawers and cabinets.
Detergents and soaps, bleach, toilet bowl cleaner, deodorants, perfumes and colognes, window cleaner, and multi-purpose cleaning products all have interesting smells, can be highly toxic, and pose a big risk, especially for young puppies.
And, before you know it, your puppy will learn how to open those doors, drawers, and cabinets. So it’s important to install child safety locks on drawers and cabinets within puppy’s reach to prevent her from exploring places that aren’t safe.
4. Eliminate or prevent access to enticing indoor potty spots
Pups love soft squishy places for going potty – area rugs, pillows, piles of laundry, sofas, upholstered chairs, and beds and bedding. So you need to restrict access to any of that until your pup is fully potty trained.
How To Puppy Proof Your Yard
In the backyard, make sure that:
- Garden tools are out of reach
- The fence is secure (puppies can wiggle through very tiny holes!)
- Access is restricted to potentially toxic plants
- Pools and hot tubs are safely fenced off and the gate is secured
Not sure which plants are toxic for dogs? Check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control’s list of poisonous plants and flowers and remember to remove toxic indoor plants and flowers as well.
There are so many poisons in our homes, garages, sheds, and yards. Things like household cleaners, bleach, glue, yard and automotive chemicals could send you searching for a vet at any time.
Safety caps aren’t good enough to keep puppy teeth out!
Store home and garden chemicals, cleaning supplies, automotive supplies, and other chemicals in a locked cabinet or cabinet with child safety locks and out of reach to be safe.
And remember that even a few drops of antifreeze can be toxic and kill a puppy! So be sure to thoroughly wipe up any spills immediately and prevent your puppy from accessing any area where a spill has recently occurred!
Other Common-Sense Tips For Puppy Safety:
- Never leave your puppy unattended in the yard.
- Inside the house, use their puppy pen or crate when you can’t supervise them.
- Make sure any pools are safely fenced off.
- Keep puppy out of the pet food and cat litter box!
Did you get all that? Are your creative juices flowing for how to set up YOUR house for a new puppy?
When in doubt, get down on your dog’s level and look around from their perspective. You’ll see a whole different view of things that need to be picked up, blocked off, or put away.
Now that you know how to puppy-proof your home, you may also be interested in:
About the trainer
After spending 20 years helping families with their dogs face to face as a professional dog trainer, Michele realized that so much of what she knows could be shared with families everywhere - in a way that actually works. People sometimes think their dog is just SUPER difficult because the advice they’ve gotten was incomplete, confusing or just wrong. So she set out to help. Michele loves training dogs because of the impact that it has on the families she gets to help. The peace and joy they get from being able to enjoy their dog LISTENING. Besides teaching classes, helping private clients and running seminars, Michele is also a foodie and fantasizes about being a food critic or secret shopper for restaurants. Talk to her about food and your instant best friends.