You and your family have spent a considerable amount of energy and time finding the right puppy for your lifestyle. He has now become a precious member of the family and counts on you for his emotional well-being as well as his health and safety. Your home is going to be his home too and you owe it to him to provide a safe, sound environment.
You’ll probably also want your puppy to grow up with some good manners and to respect the household rules. These start when he is just a cute, fluffy puppy and it’s up to you to enforce them. Puppy-proofing your home, setting up boundaries and having some important rules in place will help to keep your puppy safe in his new home. It’s also a good idea to keep puppy’s sharp teeth and claws away from your prized possessions.
Caught in the act
Whenever you are supervising your puppy, you can encourage him to chew safely. Every time you see him start to chew the wrong thing, like an electrical cable, you can redirect the chewing to an appropriate dog toy.
As he grows up, and you’ve given many, many repetitions of redirecting the chewing to the right items, your dog will form the habit of reaching for the right toys. If you puppy-proof your home, you will help the process by preventing your puppy from making the wrong decisions when you are not around to watch. It’s amazing how tidy you and your family will become with a new puppy in the house!
Harsh correction will not help with the training and could, in fact, interfere with it, causing more serious problems. Instead of punishing him, simply interrupt your puppy’s chewing of any inappropriate items and instantly switch him to a proper chew toy. Keep dog toys within easy reach in all places where you and your puppy spend time, so that you can make that switch quickly.
- Put child-proof locks on all cupboards that contain household cleaners, pesticides and other chemicals.
- Ensure that your rubbish bin is stored inside a cupboard, or invest in a counter-recessed bin with the lid on the countertop. Your puppy’s nose will guide him to the trash and eating spoilt food can end in a nasty tummy bug. Bones in the trash can be dangerous too.
- Make sure you know exactly which ‘human foods’ are not safe for dogs. Onions, foods high in salt, alcohol, grapes and raisins are just a few.
You may not want your puppy to climb onto your beds and sofas if you don’t like the shedding, are allergic, or have a priceless, fancy spread. If you keep your puppy off the furniture at all times – starting when he is very young – and no one ever breaks the rule, it’s highly likely that you will end up with a dog who simply stays off.
However, if your dog has tasted the forbidden fruit of getting on the furniture, you’ll probably need to cordon off the area using closed doors and baby gates when you are not around. Another way to prevent him climbing onto furniture in your absence is to place your puppy in his sleeping crate while you’re out, or lay things over the furniture to keep him off. Dogs like soft places to sleep, just as we do, so be sure to provide your puppy with a comfortable place to rest.
- Keep blind-cords and curtain tiebacks out of reach. Check for the little wooden bead at the end of the cords. If your puppy bites this off, it may be a choking hazard.
- Keep electrical cords out of reach.
- Don’t leave your cellphone charger plugged in. A shiny, dangling cord is bound to look like something fun to tug on.
- Rope in the kids to keep their rooms tidy and to pack away after games. Small parts can easily be swallowed, resulting in a traumatic trip to the vet.
- If your kids have a hamster in their bedroom, the cage must be well out of reach of puppy.
- Don’t leave your cigarettes on your nightstand. Tobacco is harmful to your puppy. Keep nicotine gum and patches inside the drawer, as these can be fatal to animals too.
- If you don’t want chewed shoes, keep them in the cupboard!
- False teeth and glasses should also be put away, or you may be in for a costly surprise!
By leaving things lying on the floor you make your dog think it’s his toys. A house with a dog needs to be a tidy one. Don’t try to train your dog by chasing him, cornering him, and punishing him for picking up ‘human stuff’. If your dog gets hold of something of yours and runs off with it, go in the opposite direction. Encourage your dog to chase you and swap something nice for that toy.
- Personal hygiene, beauty and cleaning products must be packed away in a wall cabinet or in pedestal drawers.
- If you keep medicine in the bathroom, it should be in a locked cabinet.
- Keep your human and pet first-aid kits out of reach of kids and puppy.
- Keep the toilet bowl closed. Never let your dog drink water from the loo.