Puppies are very curious little beings and most of the time, clueless. They like to explore, sniff, and chew on things to check if they’re edible, even the most inappropriate things like rocks…and knives. These can lead to accidents that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes venture into the millions if not addressed properly.
So, before bringing your new puppy home, make sure to make your home puppy-proof! This will keep your puppy safe and will also save you from unexpected medical bills due to accidents, that if foreseen, can actually be prevented.
But before anything else, it’s important to understand first..
Why Puppies Love To Chew on Things
They love the smell probably. Also, chewing is part of their neurosensory exploration that they will likely grow out over time. In fact, some breeds are naturally big chewers, for example, Labradors, Chihuahua, Border Collie, Jack Russell’s, Golden Retriever, and Beagle. There are a lot of reasons behind this behavior that most often are manageable and preventable. The most common are:
- Puppy teething which lasts for around 8 weeks
- boredom or excess energy
- separation anxiety
- lack of attention
Be aware, however, if you catch your puppy eating or attempting to eat objects like rocks, dirt, sticks and sands, and other weird objects. This could be a sign of Pica or dirt eating, a behavior which refers to an almost-obsessive ingestion urge to eat non-food materials. Consult a vet if you observed this in your puppy.
Otherwise, provide them with chew toys that will encourage them to chew on the right things and meet their chewing needs. Exercise, long walks, and creative activities like flyball dog courses can help ease their anxiety and boredom. And, finally, the most important of all is.. make your home puppy-poof!
How To Make Your Home Puppy-Proof?
First things first, walk around your entire house. Level yourself with your puppy to see what your puppy could eat, grab, and climb on.
Make Your Home Puppy-Proof: Indoors
1. Make sure that electric chords are unplugged and out of reach.
Electric chords can cause accidental shock that may often lead to mouth burns. If possible, use cord cable concealer to hide exposed wires or spray your chords with anti-chew spray.
2. Know the human foods that are dangerous for your puppy and avoid them.
Puppies can get diarrhea and upset stomach if they ingested oily, fatty foods so be cautious when feeding them from the table. The following are the some of the human foods that you should also avoid:
- Chocolate and caffeine
- Grapes & Raisins
- Alcohol & Raw Bread Dough
- Onions & Garlic
- Dairy products
Human foods are made for humans anyway, not for your puppy. So, It’s better that you only feed your puppy foods that are made specifically for dogs and that have the right mix of nutrients.
3. Keep your cleaning supplies in high cabinets.
Be especially careful not to let your puppy come in contact with cleaning products that contain bleach, ammonia, chlorine, glycol ethers or formaldehyde. These chemicals can put your puppy at a higher risk of serious medical conditions like cancer, anemia, liver and kidney damage.
4. Always store your medicine out of reach and out of sight of your puppy.
Medicines when ingested, can cause accidental poisoning. Medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, for example Xanax and Ibuprofen, can cause gastrointestinal irritation and damage to the GI tract in dogs. So, if you are sharing a bed with your puppy, make sure all your medications are in a safe area where your puppy cannot reach them.
5. Keep toilet lids closed as they can be a drowning hazard.
Puppies are usually at risk since they’re tiny. Full sinks and bathtubs can also be a risky place for puppies. If your puppy loves drinking out of the toilet, refrain from using harmful toilet cleaning chemicals or keep the toilet door closed at all times.
6. Keep all windows and doors closed at all times.
Your puppy may want to escape when bored or lonely and this can lead to slips, trips and falls. If this can’t stop your puppy from escaping, try providing them with interaction and fun things to do indoors.
7. Put away all breakable objects or those that are small enough to fit in your puppy’s mouth.
This includes coins, jewellry, needles and thread, straight pins, yarn, dental floss, rubber bands, paper clips, toys, etc.
8. Put toxic house plants in a safe place or replace them with non-toxic plants.
There are a number of houseplants that emit toxins and poisonous saps that can harm your puppy. If ingested, they can cause gastrointestinal upset, skin and eye irritation, tongue swelling, vomiting, and so one. According to American Kennel Club, 8 plants that could harm you and your pets are:
- Peace Lily
- Sago Palm
- ZZ Plants
- Snake Plants
- Areca Palm
- Weeping Fig
9. Store sharp objects like knives, scissors, razors, and tools in a drawer with a safety latch.
Make sure that they’re out of your puppy’s reach. Bizarre accidents happen in dogs and most often, they involve knives.
10. Install safety gates to keep your puppy away from unsafe rooms, spaces, and stairs.
If you have a careless puppy, put stick-on stair treads on your stairs for extra grip to avoid slips and fallouts.
11. Keep your puppy out of cat litter box.
Cat poop like any poop carries potentially harmful bacteria and parasites like Salmonella which can be transmitted to humans. So, clean your cat litter box regularly or clean up as soon as your cat poops.
12. Consider buying dog proof rugs, carpets and furniture.
If fabrics from rugs and carpets are ingested over a long period of time, it can lead to intestinal blockage. Consider replacing your rugs and carpets with puppy-proof ones.
13. Secure your bins or switch to bins with lids
This will prevent your puppy from raiding the trash and ingesting poisonous or sharp objects.
Make Your Home Puppy-Proof: Outdoors
1. Supervise your puppy at all times.
Use this time to get to know your puppy. Play with them and if possible, try to teach them some basic skills like “Leave It” and “Drop It”.
2. Build a yard fence if possible to keep your puppy in.
Make sure it’s high enough and have no holes to prevent your puppy from escaping.
3. Build a fence around indoor pools if you have one.
Pools pose the greatest drowning hazard to your puppy. If your pool is not fenced, your puppy might fall in and drown. So, make sure it is fenced or your puppy gets the necessary training for pool safety;
4. Set up your puppy zone
Designate an area for potty-training that is clear of all hazards.
5. Trim your lawn and be cautious of grass clippings
Do this to protect your puppy from ticks and the diseases that ticks can transmit such as spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, Q fever, and Lyme disease. Ticks tend to hangout in tall grasses so make sure you trim your lawn regularly.
6. If your lawn has recently been treated with chemicals, keep your puppy indoors.
If possible, avoid using these chemicals.
7. Keep your puppy safe in the heat.
Ready a bowl of water when your puppy is playing outside or keep your puppy under the shade to prevent heat-related illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
8. Clean up as soon as they poop.
As we mentioned earlier, poops can have a potentially harmful bacteria or parasites. Clean up after your pet before he gets the chance to eat his poop.
If you ever catch your puppy chewing on things, “Leave It” and “Drop It” skill will come very handy…
“Leave It” and “Drop It”
Spending about about 15 minutes everyday to train your dog to “Leave It” and “Drop It” can actually save your puppy from swallowing a foreign object. Moreover, it’s a skill that every puppy has to learn while they are young to help them grow out this behavior. Otherwise, this might escalate into more dangerous tendencies like… swallowing a 36 inch leather jacket or an 8 inch kitchen knife..
Treats are a good reward for good behavior and can actually make learning easier and faster. We recommend that you use a small, pea-sized treats to prevent overfeeding. If your puppy doesn’t like treats and enjoys scratching and playing more than anything, go about it. Above all, make your training sessions less frustrating for your puppy and for you as well. Make sure reward is earned with less effort.
In worst case scenarios, you puppy might not follow through…So,
What To Do if your Puppy Swallowed a Foreign Object?
According to Oakland Veterinary Referral Services (OVRS), the most common objects that dogs swallow are toys, jewelry, bones, strings, clothing, rawhide, and small objects. Swallowing these objects often lead to choking, accidental poisoning, puncture, and intestinal blockage that costs hundreds to thousand dollars to treat without pet insurance.
You may or may not know when your puppy has eaten something that it shouldn’t have. It can be obvious sometimes but most of the time it’s not. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms and treat it as urgent and emergency!
Watch out for these symptoms:
- Pawing at mouth
- Choking or gagging
- Licking the lips repeatedly
- Refusal to eat
- Lethargy or restlessness
- Distended or painful abdomen
- Inability to defecate
If you observed any of these symptoms and certain that your puppy swallowed a foreign object, call your veterinarian immediately so it can be taken out before it causes more serious problems. Do not try to induce vomiting or remove the object yourself without consulting the vet as this is likely to cause more pain and serious problem to your puppy.
Make Your Home Puppy-Proof: Conclusion
Before we end, we want to congratulate you on your new family member! As a new pet parent, you may feel overwhelmed by the arrival of your new family member especially if you have checked the new puppy checklist and realized you got zero supplies. It’s okay. Your puppy might just want to spend its first day exploring and getting familiar with her new home. You’ve done your best already on the first day by just making your home puppy-proof!