For pet owners (especially new ones), bringing home a puppy appears deceptively simple - until the shredded pillows, broken crockery and chewed-up furniture begin to appear.
Thankfully, we have a guide on how to puppy proof your house so that you can keep everything and everyone (including your pet) in it safe and sound.
Start preparing for your new pet well in advance. Go through your house and thoroughly check for anything that could be potentially hazardous to your dog.
While it might feel a little awkward, getting down on your hands and knees can help you to see the world from a puppy’s vantage point - including any hidden dangers you might not have noticed yet.
Shop for some puppy safety items that will help to make your home safer. These may include:
- Anti-scratch tape
- Electrical cord covers
- Vent covers (these can be purpose-made - or you can make your own from materials like screen mesh. Do so in a way that enables safe air flow without presenting additional dangers to your puppy (i.e. fabric vent covers which may be chewed).
- A room thermometer (the temperature in your home can affect your pet’s health, so make sure it is not too hot or cold (around 18-20 degrees is usually best).
- A toy box (if you have children and nowhere to put their cars, dolls and other potential choking hazards/chewables).
- A stainless steel dog bowl (rather than glass or plastic, which can break if dropped)
- Safety catches or childproof locks for cupboards.
- A puppy play pen
- Plug covers for electrical outlets
- Safety gates
- Calming pet products (like a pheromone diffuser)
- Waste bins with lids
- Stove and fire guards
- Non toxic bitter spray (to deter chewing)
- Devices such as smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
- Ramps (to prevent your pup from falling)
- Pee pads (or water-repellent carpet).
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to exercise puppy safety habits. Encourage everyone (including any children in your home) to tidy after themselves - and make a point of checking for any potential hazards that could shock, poison or injure your puppy.
When learning how to puppy proof your house, there are some preventative steps you can take. Each one will help to ensure that your home is a safe environment for your pet.
No Dogs Allowed!
You may decide some rooms are “dog-free zones” - in which case, you can install safety gates (such as the kitchen or upstairs, if you choose) and keep doors closed to discourage wandering.
Other no-go areas include cabinets or drawers (for these you can install safety latches or locks, taking care not to leave them open and unattended). Pet-proof doors and windows, and cover any places your pet could escape from or get stuck in, such as fences or gaps.
In the kitchen, shut any appliances (such as washing machines) your pet could crawl into when not in use - and never leave dangerous supplies or utensils (such as knives) out (if you use a dishwasher, turn these upside down to prevent injuries).
With heat sources, turn pan handles in towards the counter. Install guards over stoves or fireplaces, and never leave heat sources unattended - this includes stoves, open fires and candles.
(Don’t) Chew it Over
While bite marks on your belongings are an annoyance, certain items can be dangerous to puppies if chewed or swallowed. Chewing is natural and healthy for dogs - so give them a chewable toy instead: these can help alleviate boredom, soothe teething pain - and save your furniture and upholstery from damage.
Take care with fabric items (including string and bed linen), as these can be especially damaging to your pet’s digestive tract - and remove, cover or place choking hazards (such as children’s toys or jewellery) well out of reach.
The same applies to electrical cables and sockets, which could shock your pet. Remove electrical equipment when not in use - and never leave them unattended, especially when plugged in.
Place anything toxic (e.g. foods, certain plants, essential oils medications and cleaning supplies) on a high shelf - ideally in a lockable cabinet. The same applies to gardening products and anything you might use in the garage. When taking medications, do this over the sink so it doesn’t accidentally fall onto the floor.
Where possible, use non-toxic cleaning products around the home: you can find a range of pet-friendly replacements, or you may find ingredients like white vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda do the job just as well. To prevent your puppy from getting into your rubbish bin (and potentially ingesting something dangerous, invest in a set of lidded waste bins.
Hanging cords pose a strangulation risk to pets - so tie these up out of reach. Cut food or plastic bags on both sides to prevent suffocation - and never leave open sources of water (such as a full bath) unattended, as your puppy could fall in and drown.
Similarly, keep the toilet seat closed at all times. Not only is this a drowning hazard, but toilet water could make your pet unwell if drunk. Be sure to provide fresh drinking water from pet-safe vessels (if you are concerned about using bowls, you can invest in a dog water bottle (a slightly larger version of the ones made for rodent pets).
Finally, prevent injuries by anchoring heavy furniture securely to the wall, Using ramps to prevent your puppy falling from height - and where possible, removing any “clambering routes”, i.e. low tables beside taller items of furniture.