April 2012's Tips - Preparing For a New Puppy
General Rules to Follow When Puppy Proofing
The anticipation of bringing a new puppy into your life is an exciting time for the whole family. Before you bring the puppy home there are many crucial tasks which need to be undertaken correctly. At the top of the list is transforming your home into a safe environment for your young puppy to live and grow.
The truth is, if there is trouble to be found you can
be sure that your cheeky little puppy will find it!
For the purpose of this article I've taken "puppy proofing your home" to mean the following three things:
Making your property safe for a new puppy. Which means doing everything possible to reduce the risk of illness and injury.
Safeguarding your home and possessions against your little puppy's fangs, paws and mess.
Teaching your puppy some proper household etiquette right from the start (eg. no jumping on benches or stealing food from the table). This means establishing good behavior habits in your dog from day one and preventing problem behaviors from ever arising.
Get down on the floor and crawl around your home to experience how it will look from your puppy's perspective - go on do it!
Preparing for a new puppy is much the same as getting ready for a young child to come home for the first time. The only difference being that puppies are much more destructive! Your goal when puppy proofing is to set your property up to prevent any "incidents" from ever occurring. Puppy proofing is a serious issue and it pays to take the time to do it well. Vet bills are extremely costly and remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Put all dangerous objects and items that can be damaged safely out of your puppy's reach - it's always better to be safe rather than sorry when preparing for your puppy.
When you are away from home or otherwise distracted it is a good idea to confine your young puppy in a safe area, free from danger. You can use a crate, pen area or a small secure room for this purpose. Puppies are not sufficiently equipped to simply have a free run of the house.
Closely supervise your pup when he is loose in the house, we suggest putting a leash on the puppy and loop it through your belt loop (tether him to you) and let your puppy follow you around while you do your everyday chores. This is a great way to monitor your new puppy and in building a strong relationship with him.
Provide some chew toys for your puppy to chew on. Chew toys are important for a few reasons. Firstly they are a good way to keep your puppy occupied; they relieve stress, assist in the teething process and are a far better alternative than chewing on your expensive sofa! DO NOT USE RAWHIDE OF ANY KIND, it is extremely dangerous to your puppy.
Use a bitter taste deterrent spray on all lower walls and furniture legs that could be considered tasty by your dog (don't laugh this does happen!). Once again this sets up good behavior habits early on which your puppy will carry throughout her life.
If your dog gets into something inappropriate it is your fault - you can't expect your puppy to distinguish between an expensive pair of shoes and an old worthless rag.
Preparing For a New Puppy - Indoors
Put safety latches on all low cupboards and draws. Small puppies are experts at getting their noses into the contents of these storage areas.
Electrical cords, computer cables and phone cords represent a major hazard to young teething puppies. Do your best to put all these cords out of reach. At the very least wrap them in pvc tubing (or similar) and apply a bitter taste deterrent spray.
Clear all benches and tables of breakables and other items which your pup could find interesting. If your puppy grows up believing there is nothing of interest on these benches, she will not bother to jump up on them to investigate - there will be no reason to.
Don't leave food around on tables and benches; clear it away as soon as you have finished with it. If a puppy hits the jackpot by stealing some food off a bench he is very likely to continue to search these areas in the future - his behavior has been reinforced and rewarded with the tasty treat. Make it easy for your dog by taking the temptation away and by not allowing this problem behavior to eventuate. Remember set your puppy up for success never failure.
If you have a balcony or raised patio area ensure that the railing is sufficient for keeping your puppy in. You may need to add a temporary barrier which secures the area.
Be careful with household items you wouldn't normally consider to be dangerous. I'm talking about things such as a rocking chair or a door that bangs shut in the wind. The consequences of such an accident can be devastating - for you and your puppy.
Check that your indoor plants are non toxic - your Veterinarian will be able to provide you with a list of toxic plants to avoid.
Puppies love to play with (which means destroy) the drawstrings that dangle from indoor blinds. If possible tie these strings up well out of reach!
Buy rubbish bins that are impossible for your puppy to get into. If not make sure the bins are locked away in a cupboard. Going through the trash is one behavior you definitely want to discourage your puppy from doing.
Keep ashtrays out of reach and never burn candles in a spot where your puppy could get at them.
If you have any poisons or baits out for rodents or ants make sure they are inaccessible to your little pup. Mothballs should also be placed well out of reach.
Fireplaces are dangerous areas for inquisitive young pups. When the fire is on there are obvious dangers and the stacked wood also presents its own danger.
Keep toilet doors closed, or close your bathroom door, you want to discourage drinking from the toilet and pulling miles of toilet paper off the rack.
Preparing For a New Puppy - Outdoors
Be especially careful with any fertilizers, potting mix and weed killers you are using in your garden. It may mean that you switch over to organic products or a safer alternative.
Garages and sheds are chock full of potential hazards; make sure they are always locked up when your puppy is on the prowl.
Antifreeze is highly toxic and at the same time attractive to your puppy which is a very dangerous combination.
Clean up the yard from all tools, hoses and kids toys. Throw a few of your puppy's toys out there instead.
Check all fences and gates for holes. Gates that close automatically are a good safety measure (especially if you have kids or guests coming in and out).
Provide an area outdoors for your pup to dig and bury bones. A sandbox which is exclusively for your puppy is a great idea, it also builds strong muscles.
Your puppy will want to put everything in their mouth, if you can’t keep them from eating rocks, mulch, or other small objects consider placing a soft type muzzle on your puppy whenever they are outside, it’s a small price to pay to not have to go in for an emergency bowel obstruction surgery.
Check for any nails, screws or sharp pieces of wire protruding from the fence and other structures.
Swimming pools must be securely fenced off.
Puppy proofing gives you the peace of mind to bring a new puppy into your home with confidence.