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How To Puppy Proof Your Home

You’ve got the collar, the leash, and all the adorable toys a dog could want, but is your home ready to welcome a new puppy? We’ll show you how to puppy proof your home with checklists for both your house and yard.

A yellow Labrador Retriever puppy lays on a multicolored green and yellow mat outside of a red front door on a wooden front porch. Adobe

Bringing a new puppy into your home is an exciting prospect, and hopefully, you feel ready for the challenges and joys of training and raising your new companion. However, you want to make sure your home is ready for your furry friend. Keep reading to learn how to keep your puppy as safe and healthy as possible in its new home.

What Makes a Home Puppy-Proof?

A puppy-proof home has all the supplies a new puppy needs while being as free from common household dangers as possible. Not only does a puppy-proof home protect your dog from danger, but it also greatly reduces the likelihood that your new pet will destroy anything valuable. If your home is small, you may be able to puppy proof the whole layout fairly easily, but if you have a larger home with multiple hazards, you may want to consider fencing off a small puppy-proof area just for your new dog.

Basic Supplies You’ll Need for a New Puppy

A new puppy needs food, toys, treats, a bed, and other items to help it safely acclimate to your home. You can buy these items at pet supply stores, such as Petco and PetSmart, local pet supply stores, large retailers like Target and Walmart, and online retailers, but you can also make some of these items to save money. Some delivery dog food services can even deliver your puppy’s meals to your front door.

One important item to invest in is a dog crate. When used properly, a crate provides your dog with a safe, private place that they can call their own. Of course, you should never leave a puppy in a crate for more than a few hours at a time, but the crate will greatly reduce accidents when you have to step out of the house for a short period.

According to a survey we ran of 1,000 pet owners, 70% of puppy owners found their crate or playpen to have been very helpful in managing their puppy and reducing accidents.

Pet gates are also useful tools to contain your puppy to one space. Until your puppy is trained, you can keep it in rooms with dog-friendly flooring and minimal items to chew. Many pet stores sell adjustable plastic and metal varieties, though these can be awkward and not especially attractive. If you choose to make your own pet gate, you can match the decor in your home and get as creative as you want in terms of color and size. Just make sure the gate is tall enough to prevent your puppy from getting over it and that the top is rounded to prevent paw injuries.

Even with gates and crates, you still may want to check in on your new puppy when you’re out of the house. If so, consider investing in a pet camera to ease your mind. Some pet cameras even allow you to talk to your pet or dispense treats remotely.

How to Create a Safe Space for Your Puppy

The key to creating a safe area in your home for your puppy is to make sure it has access to everything it needs. Set up a play area for your puppy in a space that’s easy to clean and free of furniture, such as a mudroom or a section of your kitchen.

Here are a few steps to help you create a designated puppy area in your home:

  1. If you’re going to use a crate, include a pet bed or padding in the crate for more comfort. If you don’t want to keep your puppy in a crate for long stretches of time, you can create a space within a mudroom or playroom to allow your pet to have a little more space to roam.
  2. Set up a pet gate or an exercise pen around your puppy’s open crate to give it space to play and rest.
  3. Leave a water bowl in your puppy’s crate or in its designated area.
  4. Use potty pads to create a designated potty spot while you’re house-training your puppy.

Remember that puppies need mental stimulation as well as exercise, so consider leaving them with an interactive treat toy. These toys make your dog work to earn a treat, giving them something to do instead of chewing on inappropriate items. Start by leaving your puppy in the pen with a well-loved toy for a few minutes at a time until they get used to the new environment. From there, you can slowly increase the time they’re left alone, though you can always continue to monitor them remotely from a pet camera.

Puppy-Proof Checklist for Your Home

To prevent your puppy from slipping out of an enclosed area or injuring themselves, you’ll want to puppy-proof your entire home as much as possible. Here are some simple tips for keeping your puppy safe:

  • Use a trash can with a locking lid or a can that can’t be knocked over to prevent your puppy from getting into your trash. Nearly half of our survey respondents returned home to find food or the trash can rummaged through by their puppy.
  • Keep exterior doors and windows closed and locked to prevent your puppy from escaping.
  • Keep sharp objects, such as knives and scissors, off of floors and countertops and secure them in a drawer.
  • Keep all small items that might be choking hazards, such as jewelry, coins, and paper clips, out of reach.
  • Keep all medications in drawers or cabinets, even if they’re in bottles or dispensers. Power chewers can make their way through a plastic bottle fairly easily.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and make sure your puppy has a safe source of fresh water.
  • Store cleaning supplies in closed cabinets with childproof latches.
  • Move electrical cords, chargers, and blind cords out of reach or string them through cord concealers to prevent chewing.
  • Avoid feeding your puppy from the table, since some common foods, such as chocolate, raisins, and sugarless gum, are poisonous to dogs.
  • Some common houseplants, such as ZZ plants and snake plants, are poisonous to dogs. Keep them well out of reach or get rid of them altogether.

Puppy-Proof Checklist for Your Yard

Although your puppy will probably spend most of their time in your home, they will need exercise and playtime. When you do take them outside, you’ll want to make sure that your yard has been thoroughly puppy-proofed. Here are a few tips to help you puppy proof your yard:

  • If possible, fence your yard to keep your puppy in and external dangers out. Ensure your puppy can’t slip through the bars of the fence.
  • Put a fence around in-ground pools or ponds—a fence around these areas doubles as a child safety measure.
  • Some outdoor plants, such as English ivy and hemlock, are hazardous to dogs, so make sure your landscaping is free of them.
  • Mow and trim your lawn regularly to prevent pests like ticks and fleas from settling in. Likewise, clean up any brush or debris as soon as possible to prevent pests from forming a habitat.
  • Keep your puppy off any grass that has recently been treated with fertilizers or pesticides.
  • Never leave your dog outside for long periods when it’s hot, and always ensure it has access to shade and cool water.
  • Consider training your puppy to use a particular potty spot. Additionally, clean up feces as soon as possible to prevent flies.

Other Puppy-Proofing Tips

In addition to puppy-proofing your home and yard, here are a few additional tips to keep your pet safe in its new home:

  • Monitor chewing habits—Vets report that the most common health emergency for puppies is swallowing a foreign object. Because puppies often like chewing on plastic, keep a close eye on what they have in their mouths. Even parts of safe toys can become choking and swallowing hazards, so make sure to dispose of chew toys when they get too small or parts break off.
  • Assess your puppy’s destructive habits—If your puppy likes to chew on objects, barks at strangers passing by your window, or digs in your yard, try to redirect its energy to an appropriate chew toy, exercise it daily, and use positive reinforcement to change its habits.
  • Have pet-safe cleaning accidents on hand—Potty accidents will happen, especially when you’re house-training your puppy, so it’s a good idea to invest in some appropriate pet-safe cleaning products.
  • Protect your dog with insurance—Consider buying pet insurance to protect your puppy in the case of an emergency. A pet insurance policy for your puppy can also help you avoid paying for expensive vet bills out of pocket when an accident occurs.
  • Be patient with your new puppy—If you’re a first-time dog owner, a new puppy can be a big adjustment. Focus on removing the biggest hazards and learn to laugh at the small inconveniences.

Frequently Asked Questions About Puppy Proofing a Home

How can I puppy-proof my home when I’m renting?

Although renters will be able to control fewer variables about their environment—like flooring or fencing, for example—they can still puppy proof an apartment or rental home. Here are a few tips to puppy proof your rental:

  • First, make sure the property you are renting is pet-friendly. You can read more about finding a pet-friendly space on RENTCafé.
  • Use a crate to house your puppy and make it double as an end table or nightstand if space is limited.
  • Keep cords and chargers out of reach.
  • Make sure your puppy can’t get into your trash can, as swallowing food packaging or eating certain human foods can be a health hazard.
  • Store all foods on high shelves or in cabinets to prevent your puppy from reaching them.
  • Try to keep your puppy in a room with floors that are easy to clean. Rugs and carpets can be easily destroyed by a puppy, so consider keeping your pet in a room with tile or linoleum floors until it’s house-trained.

How do I get my puppy to stop chewing on my furniture?

Puppies tend to explore the world with their mouths, which often looks like them chewing on your possessions. Here are a few tips to prevent your dog from chewing on furniture and other belongings:

  • Put away your shoes, clothes, and other valuable belongings that your dog can chew on.
  • Apply a bitter apple or pepper repellent spray directly to the furniture. Most puppies dislike the taste of these sprays and will avoid items that have been sprayed.
  • Ensure that your puppy has a safe, appropriate toy to chew on, and give the toy to your dog when you notice it starting to chew on furniture or other items.
  • If you think your puppy is chewing on items out of boredom, exercise your puppy daily to reduce chewing and other anxiety-related behaviors, such as digging, licking, and barking.

What about kitten-proofing?

Puppies and kittens are similar but may have different needs. Kitten-proofing a home requires creating a safe space and removing harmful objects just as puppy-proofing does, but you will have to consider the differences in behavior between the two animals. Learn more about the needs of kittens before considering adoption.

What should I do if my puppy eats something it shouldn’t?

If you know your puppy has eaten a foreign object or poisonous substance, take it to the vet immediately. If it’s late at night or your normal vet is unavailable, call a 24-hour emergency vet clinic and explain the situation. The clinic should give you advice on whether to come in or wait until the next day.

If you suspect your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t have, but you don’t know for sure, look for the following signs:

  • Vomiting/gagging
  • Lack of appetite
  • Changes in behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal pain

If your puppy is displaying these symptoms, see your vet as soon as possible.

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