Little compares to the excitement of bringing a new puppy home. Their abundant playfulness, endless curiosity and irresistibly adorable appearance brightens the environment in any house. New puppy owners are often excited to see how their puppy interacts with the world around them, and puppies are often thrilled to explore their new environment.
A puppy experiences a great deal of physical and cognitive development in the first couple of years of their life, and they go through phases just like human children do. To the dismay of many puppy owners, some of the behaviors which young puppies exhibit can be destructive or dangerous. If you are a new puppy owner, it is imperative to adequately prepare your house for the arrival of your new furry family member to help avoid the frustrating damage which often accompanies the presence of a puppy or young adolescent dog.
By learning how to puppy proof your home, you can not only enjoy your new puppy to the fullest while minimizing risk, but you can greatly reduce the stress and expense associated with destructive puppy behaviors. The puppy proofing process can seem daunting, but there are several simple tips which a puppy owner can implement which will help save their home – and their sanity – from those razor sharp puppy teeth.
How to puppy proof your home
1) Pick up any item that you do not want chewed, destroyed or eaten
Puppies explore the world through their mouths. They forage and chew to reduce boredom, satisfy innate instincts, and as a form of play. If you choose to only implement one tip from this list in your quest to puppy proof your home, this is it. Puppies do not know which items are acceptable for them to chew and which are not, which can result in damage to expensive or sentimental belongings.
2) Put any harmful items in a safe place
Common household items such as medications, toothpaste, food products, cleaning products, thread-based items, items which could break into sharp pieces, electrical goods, and power cords are all dangerous to puppies. Ingesting toxic foods could poison your dog. Ensure that these are stored in a cupboard or area of your home that is completely inaccessible for your puppy.
3) Get plenty of puppy toys
A dog toy is one of the most effective ways to occupy your puppy’s attention. A teething toy or chew can help direct their desire to chew in a manner that won’t harm your prized possessions or damage other items around your home. Playing with a tug can also be a fun game to play with your puppy.
4) Use barriers
One of the most difficult aspects for new puppy owners is potty training their puppy. You can make life easier for yourself by confining the area in which your puppy is able to explore. A dog exercise pen or a baby gate can prevent your dog from exploring all corners of your home, and make the process of potty training more effective.
5) Keep your puppy away from rugs/carpets
There are a few major differences between hard floors and carpeting – but if you’ve ever owned a puppy, one difference looms larger than the others. Hard floors like wood or vinyl are straightforward to clean, whereas messes on carpets or rugs can be a disaster. Especially as your puppy adapts to their new environment, keeping them on tiles or non-carpeted surfaces will make clean-up operations much easier. No matter the type of floor in your home, keep an enzymatic cleaner on standby just in case.
6) Do not leave food unattended
7) Save your clothing
Puppies will engage in all kinds of behavior that are going to frustrate you. Don’t make a habit of wearing your best clothes around your home – you’re likely going to want to wear clothing that is loose and comfortable. This will reduce the chance of your best attire getting muddy or ripped by your over-enthusiastic pup, and cleaning up or chasing after them will be far easier if you can move around freely.
8) Be careful around other animals and children
A young puppy is still learning to behave and understand what is acceptable – and what isn’t. Take extreme caution when your puppy is around other pets or young children, who may not have the same, gentle touch that can be anticipated from adults. Teach your children to calmly interact with the puppy, and emphasize that sudden movements can surprise or startle them.
9) Supervise your puppy as much as you can
Owning a puppy can be exhausting, but is one of those situations where prevention is usually better than cure. If possible, spend as much time with your pup as you can. This will significantly improve the bond between the two of you. It will also enable you to step in and prevent any unwanted behaviors (and, just as importantly, the consequences of those behaviors) from manifesting.
Additional ideas for puppy enrichment
In addition to puppy proofing your home, there are other ways you can enrich your puppy’s life and start to build a solid behavioral foundation. Consider the following ideas:
- Socialization outings. Instead of taking your puppy on the same old walk on the same old route, why not take them on a trip downtown or to another dog-friendly establishment? Even just a few minutes of exposure to people and other dogs can be immensely positive.
- Start a dog sport or activity with them. Some people get dogs with an intended purpose in mind; others just want a great pet. Either way, there are plenty of dog sports that your puppy can safely participate in, such as scent work. This can not only provide physical benefits but also offers great mental stimulation.
- Take them to a group class. A group class training environment can actually combine those first two points – mixing effective, controlled socialization with a focused activity such as obedience. Under the supervision of a professional dog trainer, your puppy can learn vital skills which offer you greater control back at home. They will also likely enjoy interacting safely with other dogs (if appropriate). At Highland Canine, our trainers regularly offer group classes focused on puppy training. Check out calendar or contact a dog trainer in your area for more details.