You’ve got a new puppy. You bought all the supplies, the crate, treats, a leash and some delicious food. But now what? You don’t want your puppy to pee on everything or destroy your home. How do you set your pup up for success and not allow them to get into your favorite shoes?
To help you, we’ve created a complete nine step guide to puppy proofing.
1. Declutter your space
If it’s on the floor, assume at some point it will end up in your puppy’s mouth. This means it is time to summon your inner Marie Kondo. Even if an item sparks joy, it may need to spark joy from a higher, more secure location.
Move any shoes you have sitting by the door, handbags, baskets of throw blankets, papers, decorative nick-nacks - basically anything that is on the floor or a low shelf. You may wish to purchase some plastic storage totes to place these belongings in until the puppy is old enough to coexist with your things.
Do a second sweep after you’ve cleaned up. While that yoga mat in the corner might be no big deal now, you probably don’t want it filled with puppy scratches or nibbles - or worse, an emergency vet visit because the puppy ate a chunk.
If you have space, you may want to consider confining your puppy to only a few rooms of the house at first, with supervised visits to other rooms. This could cut down on how much puppy proofing you need to do. For example, You can gate off your kitchen and/or living room.
2. Hide Wires
In addition to decluttering, you want to hide wires so your puppy can’t chew on them. For power, strips try a box like this one from DMoose.
Not only will your puppy not be able to chew the power strip but your house may also be neater! Make sure you have bundled up and protected all wires under your couch and other furniture too. Tiny puppies can hide under the couch and may be tempted to nibble. You will not be able to stop them quickly enough in some cases.
If you have children or grandchildren, think about how you childproofed for them. Hide everything you can, use protective covers on open outlets and keep things out of reach for your curious puppy. If using outlet covers, put them away if you remove them, say, to plug in a vacuum or hairdryer. You don’t want your puppy to use them as a chew toy and try eating them or choking.
3. Designate Spaces for Shoes and Bags
Stories about puppies getting into their owner’s designer shoes or favorite handbags are some of the most common out there. How do you keep your puppy out of the Gucci? Easy, keep it out of paw’s reach.
Keep shoes tucked away safely in a closet and don’t forget to close the doors. Hang or store handbags similarly. Shoelaces, buckles, handbags with fringes, or other decorative accessories look very similar to your pup’s chew toys (to them).
While young puppies require constant supervision, it is almost impossible to watch their every single move. A puppy can get into something extremely quickly, faster than you can pick up the phone or put away some groceries.
If you aren’t able to keep your eyes on the puppy (or have another member of the household watch them) you may want to have them in a puppy safe pen or spending some time in their crate.
4. Watch Your Couches, Tables, and Books
Couch cushions, throw pillows, coffee tables and the books you keep on top of them are all tempting for your puppy. You can’t exactly remove these things from your home but you do want to teach your puppy that they aren’t for chewing.
Supervise your puppy carefully near your furniture and redirect them to an appropriate toy if they try to chew on something they should not. Now is probably a good time to remind you that you (and any other members of your household) will need to decide what the rules are for your dog and furniture. If you decide that couches, chairs, the bed, etc. are no dog zones, you will need to start teaching your dog to stay off now.
5. Temporarily Relocate Throw Pillows and Blankets
While you can’t hide all of the larger furniture, consider your soft goods. Your puppy may like to chew on the corners of those really expensive throw pillows. You know, the ones you paid too much for and keep on the couch so your house looks fancy.
Also, the throw blankets you have casually draped over the couch to look extra cozy or for movie night. Those are not for chewing or peeing on. Remove the expensive ones and replace them with a dog friendlier blanket, at least temporarily.
6. Keep Food Out of Your Pup's Reach
Both dog food and human food should be stored safely. You don’t want your puppy to overeat the kibble or get into your food. Puppies' stomachs are especially sensitive. While some human foods can be great to share with your dog in appropriate quantities, like fruit,cheese, popcorn,spinach,blueberries or pumpkin, you want to introduce these foods slowly and one at a time.
Allowing your puppy to have an all you can eat treat buffet will at best end in a messy bout of digestive distress and at the worst end in an expensive emergency vet visit. Be especially careful with foods that are toxic to dogs like onions, grapes, and raisins.
7. Secure Medications, Cleaning Supplies and Other Toxic Substances
Animal poison control and emergency vets see many cases of puppies ingesting cleaning products, antifreeze, over the counter and prescription medication as well as toxic plants and flowers.
To avoid being in a situation where you need to make one of these calls, keep all toxic substances secure. If you bring flowers into your home, ensure your dog cannot reach them. If you have a garden, supervise your puppy outside so he or she does not eat your plants (toxic or otherwise).
There are plenty of plants for both indoors and outdoors that are dog safe.
Another thing many pet parents forget about is products that are used topically. This includes medicated lotions and cosmetics. Your puppy may love the smell of your lotion or muscle rub and try to lick it right off your body. Chapstick and natural cosmetics shouldn’t cause a problem but be mindful of what you are putting on your body and try not to let your puppy lick.
8. Remove the Temptation of Trash Cans
Ensure that trash is safely hidden away where your puppy can’t go trash picking. If you can’t use a compactor or place your trash can in a cabinet, ensure that your trash can has a good lid. This includes trash cans in your bathrooms. You do not want your puppy to dig dirty tissues or feminine products out of the trash and carry them around your home or chew on them.
Kitchen trash with leftover scraps from dinner and other tempting morsels can be appealing for your puppy. You don't want to find your pup digging through the trash and snacking on leftovers or dragging the trash around your home spreading germs. This act could make your pup or other members of your family sick, Not to mention that its probably stinky and messy, and taking care of a young puppy is hard enough work without having to add extra floor scrubbing time!
9. Keep Up With The Puppy Proofing as Your Pup Grows
Puppy proofing can be hard work and it's not a one and done activity. Be patient with yourself and make adjustments as you need to. You might find that what worked fine for your 10-week old puppy doesn’t work at 15 weeks.
Puppies grow quickly and can become more confident and curious as they do. We hope these tips help you set up a safe space for your puppy to grow and bond with you as they learn about the world.