Dog-Proofing Your Home
Tips for dog-proofing your home.
Excerpt from The Big Book of Simple Solutions
Just like infants, puppies put anything and everything in their mouths. One veterinarian says he is astounded by the variety of things puppies will chew on or swallow. With that in mind, it’s a priority for new puppy owners or owners of chewers to take steps to remove temptations or make them unappealing or inaccessible. (The bonus to this is usually a neater, less-cluttered home.)
Smell is often what first attracts a dog to a forbidden item. Things that smell good to a dog range from stinky socks to leather shoes to ripe garbage. Make it a habit to put laundry in hampers, shoes in closed closets, and trash containers inside cabinets. If there’s no room for the trash beneath the kitchen or bathroom sink, buy containers with locking lids. Avoid small decorative trash cans, which are just the right size for an inquisitive puppy to stick his nose into and pull out such shreddable treasures as envelopes and used tissues. Put small trash cans on top of your dresser or bathroom counter.
Secure heavy items that could fall on your puppy. Remind family members to pick up toys, clothes, remote controls, eyeglasses, and briefcases. Take up throw rugs, and put plants out of reach. Don’t leave the ends of toilet paper hanging down. Everything is fodder for the puppy chewing machine.
Dog-proofing your home is more than just keeping things picked up. You need to look at things from a dog’s eye view. In each room, get down on your hands and knees so you can see what your pup sees. Doesn’t the carving on that table leg look interesting? And look at all those cords underneath the desk where the kids do their homework.
Tape down cords for lamps and electronic equipment. Wrap the cords and bind them with plastic cable ties, (available at electronics stores), or coat them with Bitter Apple or another unappetizing substance, such as hot sauce or a solution of cayenne pepper mixed with water. You can also try covering cords in aluminum foil. Many dogs don’t enjoy biting down on the silvery wrap. Avoid wrapping frayed cords with aluminum foil, as it could serve as a conductor for electricity. If cords are frayed, it’s best to replace them anyway. They aren’t safe, even without a puppy around.
If your puppy shows interest in chewing on walls or furniture legs, coat the attractive area with a nasty-tasting substance, such as Bitter Apple, citronella oil, or hot sauce. (Apply it first in an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t harm the finish.) Not every dog finds these concoctions unpleasant; some even seem to think they just add to the flavor. They’re worth a try, however.
Forget the idea of giving your puppy old socks or shoes to chew on. She can’t tell the difference between those and your good shoes and socks, so don’t run the risk of confusing her.
If there’s a room in your home that’s not safe for a curious dog, keep it off limits with a baby gate or other barrier. Be sure the pup can’t stick her head through the gate and get stuck. If baby gates don’t work for your situation, close doors or keep the puppy leashed at your side.
Find one room in your home that can be a place where your puppy can go freely. This is usually a kitchen, laundry room, or bathroom. Be sure to stock this room with several approved toys. Even in a “safe” room, however, your pup may take it into her head to nibble on the baseboards, cabinets, or wall. For repairs, keep cans of paint and spackling handy but out of reach.
The most important step in avoiding chewing disasters is, well, preventing them. When you can’t be around to supervise, confine your dog to the safe room or to a crate, along with a toy to keep her occupied. That way, she can’t get into trouble, and you won’t get mad at her.
When a crate is introduced and used correctly, it’s a kind, effective way to keep a puppy or dog out of harm’s way. Help the puppy feel at home in her crate by feeding her in it, and never use crate time as a means of punishment. If you take these steps, your dog will feel safe in her cozy den—which should be just large enough for her to lie down, stand up, and turn around in—and your belongings will be protected from the depredations of sharp puppy teeth.
If your dog is younger than six months old, don’t confine her to a crate or safe room for more than four hours at a time without giving her an opportunity to take a potty break. Dogs this young simply aren’t capable of “holding it” for much longer than that.
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