Bringing home your new dog for the first time can be very exciting, and educational. You will learn very quickly–and probably after some unfortunate damage–to keep certain belongings out of the dog’s reach. But besides protecting your phones, shoes, and who knows what else that will get chewed up, it’s also important that you make sure there’s nothing in your home that can harm your dog.
Younger dogs will likely be more snoopy, and while smaller dogs can get under and behind more furniture, larger dogs will be able to reach higher places. Here are some things you can do around the house, both inside and out, to make your home safe and happy with your new family member.
All Around Your Home
The same ideas behind child-proofing work for puppy-proofing. Cabinet latches and trash can lids will keep curious creatures out of harm’s way. You should also take care to secure electrical cords and sockets, cover heating vents and fireplaces, and put plants out of reach.
Other things dogs love to chew include tissues and tissue boxes, books and magazines, cigarettes and lighters, remote controls, sewing items, office supplies, coins, kids’ toys, knickknacks, and furniture. Pretty much anything your dog can get his or her mouth around will potentially get chewed or swallowed, so provide plenty of chew toys to distract him or her from going after other things.
In the Kitchen
People food is for people, not dogs, but that won’t stop them from trying to get at it. Keep all food out of reach, especially coffee grounds, chocolate, and alcohol. Food wrappers can be just as harmful as the food it contains.
Be mindful of cleaning supplies and other toxic chemicals under the sink. Cabinet latches will be very effective on the under-the-counter storage areas. If your trash can is not already stored somewhere, secure it from easy access, either in a closed pantry or with a pet-proof lid.
In the Bathroom
What do you have on your bathroom sink? Find a safe place to keep toothpaste, toothbrushes, cosmetics, soap, Q-tips, cotton balls, medications, razors, and the like. Consider putting toilet tissue somewhere instead of a holder on the wall, such as a drawer or commode-top bin.
If you don’t want your dog drinking from the toilet, keep the seat down, and secured if possible. Just like a full tub or sink, a toilet bowl can be a drowning hazard for smaller dogs. Cabinet latches will also keep pets away from cleaning supplies and anything else under the sink.
In the Bedroom
Along with wires, medications, and the like, there are lots of small things on dressers and bedside tables that are chew-worthy. Keep your shoes and laundry in a closed closet–and before you close it, make sure no four-legged friends are hiding in there. If you store anything under your bed, block it off so your dog doesn’t get nosy or stuck.
In the Laundry Room
When your dog isn’t trying to run off with socks or shorts, clean or dirty, he or she may be curious about the dryer, so check first before closing the door, and especially before turning it on. Dryer sheets can be harmful, as can detergent, bleach, and other cleaning products, so keep them all out of reach.
In the Garage and Basement
Wherever you store paint, antifreeze, motor oils, cleaners, and other fluids and chemicals, be sure all containers are sealed and safe. Store all your tools, power or otherwise, safely out of harm’s way too. Make sure garbage cans are sealed between pickup days.
In the Yard
If your dog has the opportunity to roam off a leash, make sure your yard is safe. A chain-link fence is more effective than a wooden fence, but be on the lookout for openings that might let pets out or other animals, snakes, or rodents in.
Some plants and weeds are harmful to dogs, so keep the yard tidy, and block off any garden areas. While housebreaking your new pet, try to use a dedicated area of the yard for its “business.” A dog house won’t only give your dog a place to cool down, but will also be the last place he or she will relieve his or herself.
If you’ve got a cat that uses a litter box, your dog will be very attracted to it. Put the box in a place that your dog can’t get to, or get one that will allow access to only the cat. Along the same lines, be prepared for household “accidents”: keep a supply of cleaners, brushes, and paper towels on hand at all times.
A safe home is a happy one, and dog-proofing your home will also help you reduce clutter in general. Visitors will be impressed on how neat and tidy everything is, even with a dog around!