Written by Anna Hollisey
Ready to welcome a dog, and want to make your home puppy-proof? Those tiny teeth can destroy things that you never even knew were at risk. So be prepared. Start here – in our comprehensive guide to puppy proofing your apartment or house!
First, it’s helpful to decide which areas of your home or apartment will be ‘dog zones’. Will you allow your dog to go upstairs, or in your bedroom? Will they be permitted on the couch? Will they spend most of their time in one room?
Child safety gates double up as puppy-proofing gates. If you don’t have any, it’s worth asking friends and family. They are ideal for putting in doorways and across the bottom or top of stairs. Eventually, your puppy might learn they’re not allowed upstairs – or they might become determined to pull off the Great Escape!
Some things pose a risk to your dog – and some are at risk of destruction by your dog. Do you have any precious vases or plants? Put them on a high shelf. Ensure that toys are shut away in a box. Even books might be relished by your mischievous puppy (take it from someone with experience).
Pups love to chew through the plastic coating on cables and, when the wires become exposed, they pose a fire hazard. Think smart and swap these for puppy-proof cabling. Most cables are easy to switch out. Take an inventory of the cables that are at ground level and either box them away (some can be run underneath floorboards) or order replacements.
Not all puppies chew on furniture. But now isn’t the time to order a fancy new couch or a doggy chaise-longue. If your puppy starts chewing on table legs, try a deterrent spray – it tastes unpleasant, and they’ll look for something else to chew. (Make sure there are other options around!)
This is a place where they will sleep; it’s also where they’ll go when you have visitors, for example, or when you go out. Some pups can experience anxiety. Giving them a peaceful, relaxed place for their bed and water bowl – away from other pets and hazards – can help to support their mental health.
Sure, you can splash out on a luxury puppy bed – embroidered with their name and lined with the finest feather and down. But if your pup’s a chewer or a bed-wetter, you’re going to regret it! Our advice? Save the fancy bed for next year. At first, choose an inexpensive bed which can be regularly replaced (and be ready to pick up the stuffing from the floor every morning). You could even start out with a cozy pile of old blankets while you get to know your pup’s habits.
Okay, so you probably know about the main toxins – bleach and spray cleaners are always covered in warning logos. And you’d guess that your dog should never be allowed to ingest alcohol or medicine. But there might be some surprises around your home – for example:
Take a walk around your yard and pay special attention to your perimeter. Are there any holes in the fences? Is it high enough? (Depending on breed, a higher fence may be recommended; if you’re adopting a rescue or fostering, 2m is a good standard.) Replace tired fencing with solid panels of puppy-proof fencing – or, if you’re on a budget, think about zip-tying bamboo screens to cover gaps. Your neighbors don’t want to find an adventurous puppy digging up their lawns.
If you have a small breed or a non-swimmer, it’s worth thinking about puppy-proofing your water features and ponds. While they’re young they won’t have depth perception/ common sense and can plunge straight into it. You might also have fish or other pets in the water that you want to protect!
Common plants like Chrysanthemum, Foxglove, Hydrangea, Lily, Rhododendron, Mountain Laurel and Yew are all toxic for dogs. Not sure whether to pull up your favorite shrub? The ASPCA has a handy guide, including pictures, to help you identify toxic plants – and gauge how dangerous they are.
Consider a crate for the car – it prevents puppy from jumping around and causing danger to itself and passengers. Use it from the very first day so that your puppy gets used to the idea. If the trunk is accessible from the passenger side, you might want to add a wire divider to stop the puppy from scrambling into the back seat. Finally, if you’ll be taking your dog out in the car, you might want to add a blanket (ideally waterproof on one side) to save your interior from being spoiled. And remember to empty your trunk of dangerous stuff like spare tools and jump-start cables.
If you’re looking for equipment for your new pup, check out our articles about preparing for a new puppy and choosing and fitting a dog collar. Think you’re totally ready for the new arrival? Read 9 Things Nobody Tells You About Getting a Puppy!