Puppy season guest post: 8 Tips for Puppy Proofing your Home

We promised ourselves that we would take a break until the new year, and we’re holding to it. Today we bring you a timely guest post from Bernice Spradlin, a talented young writer who contacted us a few weeks back with a great holiday blog idea.

This post is for all those families who bring home a brand new puppy for Christmas or Hannukah. Enjoy!

Helpful advice for keeping dog dangers at a paw’s length

Your new puppy is like a baby. Well, essentially that’s what he or she is—a baby dog. And when I brought my new puppy home, I learned that babies make messes, chew on stuff, and get into things and areas that they shouldn’t. When I inquired with a puppy trainer, she told me that this is what puppies do until they are trained to know right from wrong—just like children.

I decided to teach my new dog a few new tricks, so I enrolled him in puppy class.  As he matured, he learned to stay off of my leather furniture, chew on his or her toys only, and go to the bathroom outside and not on my daughter’s bedroom carpet. I have this advice for new puppy owners: understand that training a new puppy will take time and patience.

However in the meantime, as your puppy grows and learns, here are eight helpful tips that I learned from my vet, my puppy trainer, and other friends with puppies, for puppy proofing my home:

1. Pick up anything chewable:

Like babies, your new puppy will be a chewing machine. For instance, my puppy, Ruddy, didn’t mean to ruin my new shoes or embarrass me by eating your garbage whenever I had my parents over for dinner. He chewed to ease teething pain and as a natural habit to keep his teeth strong. Unfortunately, you can’t give a pup cheap Canadian drugs like baby Tylenol as you can a baby. I was told by my vet to try freezing one of Ruddy’s chew toys or massaging his gums to relieve teething pain. Instead of leaving my shoes and clothes out for pup to chew, I investes in some chew toys and garbage cans with air tight lids to keep items I didn’t want puppy to chew at paw’s length.

2. Protect pup from electrical cords:

You bet that if you have excessive television or speaker wires and cords loose around your home, puppy is going to chew them. I was so afraid that Ruddy would cause a fire or hurt himself, so I invested in some plastic zip ties and tucked wires away underneath trim. This will keep puppy from electric shock and you from replacing your expensive audio-visual system.

3. Put prescriptions and other household drugs out of reach:

Medicines should be kept in cabinets. Never doubt the power of puppy’s chew against one of those little plastic prescription bottles. At puppy age, Ruddy could chew through a screen door so a plastic lid would have been no problem at all.

4. Tuck up cords to blinds and curtains:

Those tempting dangling cords to window blinds and curtains can be fatal to your pup if they become entangled or strangled. I was told to tuck up all cords to window coverings by tying knots to keep the cords high up and out of jump range.

5. Lock away hazardous chemicals:

Windshield washer fluid, cleaning products, gasoline, bleach—all can be fatal to your pet if ingested. Your best bet is to lock them away in your garage, shed or basement, far away from nosy puppy. Ruddy has never gotten a whiff of any of these because I keep them in my locked shed.

6. Keep dog food in plastic containers:

Puppies are gluttonous beasts! If left with a full bag of Puppy Chow, Ruddy would eat until he got sick. However, if you store the dog food in large plastic, airtight containers, you will save money on carpet cleaner and dog food.

7. Ban toxic plants from your home:

Certain plants, such as aloe vera, lilies, baby’s breath, poinsettias, and daffodils are toxic if pets ingest them. Your puppy’s immune system is still developing, so keeping them away from toxic substances is essential. I used to just tell friends and family not to buy me plants or flowers because Ruddy will try to eat them. He doesn’t bother with them now that he’s a trained, responsible adult pooch.

8. Pass on the dark chocolate:

Chocolate, especially the rich dark variety, is toxic for dogs. Not only that, but a curious puppy will eat the chocolate and wrapper together, which can get caught in their digestive tract and cause a whole slew of health concerns. I did my pup a favor and didn’t dare tempt fate by keeping candy dishes tucked away in cupboards and off counters. This way, Ruddy couldn’t get to them even if he tried.


Bernice Spradlin is an avid hiker and runner. She works at a gym in Brooklyn, New York, where she gets great inspiration for her freelance health-related articles and blogs. In her off time, you can often find Bernice jogging the East River path along the waterfront and enjoying the cool breeze. Bernice is currently looking for freelance writing work, and can be contacted at BerniceG.Spradlin@gmail.com

11 responses

  1. Those are all great tips. I can’t believe how much freedom some people give to their new dogs and puppies. It’s just setting the dogs up for failure, and it’s not safe, either.

  2. Thank you for posting this! Common sense isn’t very common! We need to educate through every route possible 🙂
    When people come to me for advice about their new puppy, I always say invest in a crate and baby gates! You wouldn’t let your young child go anywhere you couldn’t watch. (This is sadly up for debate) And every missed naughty behavior is a missed chance for puppy learning.

  3. Wonderful post – and the same goes for new dogs coming into the household; they may not be puppies but they need to learn the “law of the land” re: what is theirs or not.
    Hooray for crates and baby gates!
    At the vet this morning, I overheard a customer say how she had taken a week off work to train her new puppy for house training, etc. YESH.

    • And with new dogs you never know what horrible behavior the previous owner tolerated…we see these completely out of control animals coming into the shelter as 2-3 year old dogs with no training, manners or sociability. It’s pretty nuts….but new dogs of any age need to be monitored and taught the rules!

  4. Great tips, not just for puppies but for adult dogs that are still learning too.

    My favorite puppy tip is to have an exercise pen. They’re flexible and easy to set up and give a puppy just enough room to play a little without getting underfoot.

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