Safety First! Dog Proofing Your Home and Yard

Whether you’re bringing home your first dog or puppy or you’ve had dogs your whole life, it’s important to occasionally check around your home and yard to ensure you’re providing not only a comfortable place for them to live but a safe one as well. This involves a combination of awareness, preparation, and training.

Dog Proofing Your Home and Yard
Photo by Justin Veenema on Unsplash

Puppy-Proofing Your Home

Before you bring your pet home, take some time to secure any hazardous items. For instance, make sure all unsafe chemicals, such as cleaners and medications, as well as small objects are well out of reach. Look around your environment and check for any electrical cords, which can pose a significant risk of shock or injury if your puppy finds one to chew on. Dogs, and especially puppies, are very curious and often explore the world with their mouths. And it can be surprising what animals will chew on and ingest if given free rein.

Next up, ensure trash cans in every room are secured and inaccessible. Not only do you not want your dog to scatter your trash throughout the room, but many foods and tossed items can be harmful to dogs. For example, chocolate, grapes, and xylitol-containing products (like gum or toothpaste) can be highly toxic (and even deadly) for dogs.

You also want to ensure your dog can’t easily escape. So, make sure doors and windows are security closed or have strong enough screens to keep your dog safe and secure when they’re inside.

Plant Power

Plants, trees, and bushes add beauty and serenity to any environment. They can also be enticing to puppies and older dogs. After all, they provide fun leaves to bat around, dirt to dig in, and sticks to chew. Unfortunately, they also come with risks. There are several plants that can be toxic to dogs if ingested. And, they are commonly found in homes, yards, and places you’ll walk your dog.

Inside the house, plants to keep out of reach of your pup include:

  • Sago palms
  • Peace lilies
  • Philodendrons
  • Aloe vera
  • Pathos

Outdoor plants to ensure are not located where your dog can easily interact with them include:

  • Azaleas and Rhododendrons
  • Oleander
  • Cyclamen
  • Autumn crocus
  • Caster bean
  • Foxglove
  • Yew
  • Elderberry

Before allowing access to your dogs, know the names of the plants in your home, yard, and garden. If know the toxicity and you find your dog is ingesting the plant, you’ll know you need to take immediate action. It can also help your veterinarian or poison control center quickly provide the appropriate advice or treatment. Knowing which plants are toxic also allows you to move them out of areas where your dogs play or relax. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Creating a Safe Space for Your Pup

You can’t always be with your new puppy or older dog. So, until they’ve learned that the world isn’t their chew toy, they need a safe, comfortable place to relax and play. This can be an appropriately-sized crate, a puppy playpen, or you can puppy-proof a room in your home where you can keep your pet when you’re out.

Make sure you leave your puppy with appropriate chew toys and enrichment toys, so they can keep themselves busy when you’re away, such as a frozen treat-filled Kong, Pupsicle, or Goughnut.

To help your puppy associate this space with fun and relaxation, don’t just use the crate or room when you’re away from home. While you’re doing your chores around the house, for instance, place your puppy in the space with a favorite chew toy or treat. That way they can still see you moving through the house while they’re chewing on something yummy. And they won’t associate the space only with being alone.

Depending on your neighborhood and the climate, you may also be able to use a securely fenced-in yard or pen. However, you’ll want to watch to make sure your puppy can’t escape or get into plants or other materials that could be dangerous. You’ll also want to make sure the area has adequate shade and a cool or warm place to rest if the temperatures rise or fall while you’re away. And you’ll want to make sure they won’t annoy neighbors by barking excessively when you’re gone.

Providing Safe Chews

Chewing is common behavior for young puppies, but it’s also common for older dogs. Chewing is just a natural instinct. And one of their favorite things to chew is sticks. This seems harmless and free way to entertain them. There are, however, risks of allowing your dog to chew on any old stick they come across unsupervised.

For example, wood can splinter. And splinters can then get lodge into your dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines. If larger pieces are swallowed, it could even lead to a blockage in the digestive tract. Or your dog may experience broken teeth.  Any of these issues can lead to pain, serious injuries, and expensive vet bills.

In addition, some of the trees and plants found in the backyard could poison your puppy. Even if the plant isn’t toxic, it may have been sprayed with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.

With these risks in mind, it’s always a good idea to provide your pet with safe chewing alternatives to satisfy this instinct. There are several safe chew toys and treats recommended by veterinarians. In addition, when your dog is chewing, it’s best to supervise them, which both protects them from harm and strengthens your bond.

Time to Train

Setting aside time to train your dog daily is a fun way to bond and improve your relationship. It’s also how your puppy will get great at basic commands like sit, stay, come, and leave it. These behaviors can help prevent your puppy from getting into dangerous situations like bolting out the front door into traffic or eating something when out on a walk that could be dangerous.

Speaking of walks, if you spend time learning leash training together, this is another fun activity. Getting your puppy used to their harness and leash early and then learning how to walk politely on the leash can lead to years of pleasure for you both.

Don’t forget socialization. Getting your puppy out and introducing them to other trusted people and dogs can help improve their confidence and help prevent unsafe situations in the future.

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