The best time to learn how to puppy proof a room in your home is before you bring the puppy home. Even if the puppy is already in your home, it is never too late to start puppy-proofing. Doing this now will save you a trip to emergency veterinarians later. It also may save you many home repair bills and save you from having to replace chewed-up possessions.
Get a Training Crate and Pen
Crates are not cruel if used properly. They care like dens where puppies can sleep and, more importantly, stay safe when you cannot supervise them for short periods of time. Crates should be large enough for puppies to turn around in when they are grown dogs. They are used mainly when puppies sleep.
While puppies are awake and need to stay in one place in the home because of repairs or visitors, keep them in a playpen. Keep toys in with the puppy to make it a more interesting area. Only keep the puppy in there for a short time, as he or she will start to get bored and begin chewing on the pen. Soiling is also inevitable if left for a long period of time.
If you leave your shoes on the living room floor, you need to find a new place to put them, such as a shoe tree hanging over the closet door. An important note on how to puppy proof a room is that puppies will chew on anything they can get their mouths on. Remove all plants, electronics, toys, purses, and just about anything else really valuable. If you have a bookshelf full of collectibles, photo albums, CDs, or other valuables, empty the bottom shelf because the puppy will get onto that shelf and start chewing.
Take a good look at your furniture and rugs when you learn how to puppy proof a room. Remove anything you do not want to be chewed or stained beyond repair. Remember, puppies not only chew, but they vomit and are not yet housebroken. There are good carpet restoration services that can help repair your Persian rug, but it’s better not to place such a tempting item in the puppy’s path.
Keep Chemicals Locked Away
Puppies are like babies in that they somehow seem to get into anything. This means they can get into medications, crafting supplies, makeup, cleaning chemicals, insect bait, and just about anything else. All of these need to be kept behind closed cabinets that cannot easily be opened when learning how to puppy proof a room. Puppies have been known to open cabinet doors. Put child locks on cabinet doors.
Even if you keep chemicals on tables, these can fall over and be explored and eaten by a curious puppy. For example, many people keep prescription medicines on their coffee tables. These medications need to be placed in a drawer or medicine cabinet. Go through your house and see what you stack on floors. Move them all to high shelves, in closets, in secure drawers, or throw them out.
Check for Wires
Puppies not only like to chew wires; they can get tangled up in them and pull down expensive electronics. If you charge any electronic item on the floor, get out of the habit and try to charge on a countertop instead. Bend down to see where these wires are. Using furniture can help block some access to wires. Taping dangling wires up onto the wall helps keep them out of the puppy’s way. Painter’s tape and duct tape work best to hold the wires up tight against the wall.
Get in the habit of unplugging all electronics when not in use when learning how to puppy proof a room. If they have to be plugged in, like a digital clock, think about getting rid of the clock or replacing it with a battery-operated clock. Unplugging all items will help save your puppy from an electrical shock. If something has to be plugged in, wrap the wire in aluminum foil. Foil tastes bad to puppies. Using foil, though, is no substitute for training.
Check Your Trash Cans
Think of what a trash can is like for a puppy. It’s full of all kinds of unusual and tempting smells. We know that trash or garbage is off-limits, but puppies don’t. Nothing seems off-limits to a puppy. They will chew and eat everything in a trash can. At the least, they’ll tip the trash can over and scatter the debris all over your living room. At the worst, they could die.
Keep trash cans away in locked cabinets. Another option is to get a thick rubber tote with a secure lid and use that as a trash can. When the puppy is older and learns the “leave it” command, then a wastepaper basket can be tried on the floor. Any garbage cans outside should have secure lids. This not only keeps curious puppies away, but other critters like raccoons and rats.
Check Your Furniture
Take a good look at your living room furniture. Can a small puppy dig down in between couch cushions and make a home when no one’s looking? Sitting on this cushion with the puppy hidden there could be a disaster when learning how to puppy proof a room. Either get rid of the couch or make it a habit to check the cushions before sitting down. Keep a puppy out of a living room when he or she can’t be supervised.
Do you have small throw pillows or blankets? These can easily get into a puppy’s mouth and be torn apart. Does your furniture have any large tears? A puppy will make them bigger. Very small puppies can jump surprisingly high, so do not think a puppy is too small to jump up on a chair or couch. Store these away, too. Keeping a baby gate flat on top of a couch will discourage a puppy from jumping up on it when you are not there to supervise.
Check Your HVAC Vents
Also check your HVAC vents to see if a puppy can climb inside. Any loose vent can be pried apart by a curious puppy, especially if a mouse has run inside the HVAC unit recently. Make sure all HVAC vents are securely covered. Also, contact your HVAC installation service so they can inspect your heater and air conditioning unit for mice, insects, or other signs of smelly damage that might tempt a puppy.
If you do have mice, roaches, or other pests, be sure to keep all bait and poisons away from a puppy. Puppies will try to eat the bait. Avoid using glue traps because puppies will find a way to get into those, as well. Never use room foggers or “bug bombs” as these can leave residual pesticides which can poison your puppy and even get you sick.
What about Taste Deterrents?
Using deterrents like bitter apple or super spicy sprays has mixed results. You spray the bitter apple onto the wire, chair leg or whatever. In theory, the item will not taste so bad that the puppy will not chew it. However, some puppies don’t seem to mind the taste. The taste also seems to go away when the puppy drinks water right after chewing the sprayed-on item. Again, it’s better not to have the wire or whatever in the way to tempt the puppy in the first place.
It’s best to train your puppy to stay away from certain items. When you see your puppy chomping on a chair leg, yell, “NO!” or clap your hands to get your puppy’s attention. When the puppy stops chewing or drops whatever is in his or her mouth, praise and give the puppy something more appropriate to chew, like a dog toy. Eventually, they get the idea, but all puppies learn at their own rates.
Check to See If Your Living Room Needs Repair
Puppies are like babies in that they stick everything in their mouths. They also like to dig. Check your rooms to be sure they do not have any big cracks, holes or signs of water damage. Fill in the cracks and holes. Call a water damage restoration service. Puppies have a talent for making small holes much larger. They also swallow any bits they pry off of walls, floors or doorframes.
Don’t forget to check the walls for flaking paint or curling wallpaper. Although paint may no longer contain lead, puppies can still poison themselves by eating flakes. They can also get sick eating wallpaper. If they bite a loose strip and pull, it makes a great tugging game. The puppy might keep on pulling because it’s fun. If necessary, call a living room wallcovering professional for repairs.
Puppies and Contractors Don’t Mix
Any room that needs extensive repairs should be off-limits to a puppy when learning how to puppy proof a room. It’s not good that a puppy is around when repairs are being made, since he or she could slip out of the house, get into dangerous chemicals or swallow small pieces lying about. If possible, keep the puppy on another floor of the house while contractors like local flooring companies are in. Make sure that the room is temperature controlled. Have someone stay with the puppy for safety’s sake.
If no one can supervise the puppy while repairs are being made, get your puppy to a doggy daycare or a dog boarding facility. Some veterinarians offer a boarding service. To find a good doggie daycare, ask fellow dog-owners, your veterinarian or pet grooming professionals. Never leave a puppy alone in a yard or tied up outside.
Keep a Stock of Good Things for a Puppy to Chew On
Puppies will search for things to chew out of boredom. They also will be driven to chew to ease the pain of teething, which starts when a puppy is about three weeks old and continues for another six months. Never use teething medicated liquids for human babies on puppies. They could make the puppy very sick. Never use human teething rings or beads for puppies, since they will chew them apart in no time and may choke on the pieces.
Keep good things to chew for puppies always within reach, namely, toys. Some dog owners claim that their puppies were helped by pig ears or bully sticks, but these can be choking hazards. It’s best to always be present when giving such things to puppies, so you can get help should the worst happen. Keep an emergency veterinarian’s number on speed dial or posted on the refrigerator just in case.
Get Down for a Puppy’s View of the Room
After doing all of this, how can you be sure if you have done enough? The easiest way is to get sown on your knees so you are about the height of your puppy. Start crawling around and see what you can access and get a hold of. You may also see more things that need repair or places where a puppy can wiggle under or through.
Make sure to get a flashlight and check under couches, recliners or bookcases that have gaps big enough for a curious nose to stick in. Check for any trash that rolled under there like batteries or pens, and clean it up so they are not swallowed. Check for any crumbling pits in all flooring types or any splinters in wood frames or floors.
Never Too Late to Puppy-Proof
Although learning how to puppy proof a room, living room furniture, rugs, and walls should be done before the puppy comes home, it is never too late to start puppy-proofing. Repairs will help not only your puppy, but you and your home’s value. Puppy-proofing is no substitute for training, which can start as soon as your puppy comes home.
Make sure everyone is on board with learning how to puppy proof a room and for deciding if the puppy is allowed on furniture or has access to some rooms. It only confuses the puppy if one member lets canines on the couch and another family member yells about it. Make sure everyone keeps dangerous substances out of the way. Make sure everyone knows the vet’s phone number.