Preparing your home and garden for a new puppy before your new pup arrives will make those early days, and weeks, a whole lot easier and less stressful for everyone. Setting your puppy up for success is key to great training. And how we manage the environment and our surrounding will be so important.
Your new pup will be curious about their new environment and will want to explore everywhere. You need to think of your pup as a baby – because it is one – although they are much more mobile than human babies and it is natural for them to use their mouths to explore and chew! So get down on your hands and knees and crawl around – what would be dangerous for a baby, will be dangerous for you new puppy!
Puppy Proofing your Home
As just mentioned, your puppy will want to explore its new surroundings and puppies use their noses and their mouths to explore. By puppy proofing our homes, we want to minimise the items they are not allowed to chew on and provide them with appropriate things they can chew. (But we will go more into that when we get into training.)
- Give your house a good tidy up. Set your puppy up for success and clean up! What you leave lying around is fair game. Remove small items from the floor, low bench tops. A few things to keep an eye out for are; coins, plastics, clothing, rubbish bins, as these are not good for your puppies digestive system and can even be deadly. Chewing through electrical cords, pulling down heavy table lamps, eating plug-in air fresheners, or knocking over plants or standing lamps can be dangerous.
- Use this as an opportunity to clean up your house. Move small items into cupboards, draws and shelving where you know that the puppy won’t be able to get to and stop leaving your undies, shoes and socks lying around because it will be your fault if your puppy decides to steal them! Same goes for kids toys if you have children. Try and have an allocated box or room where these will live that your puppy can’t have access to.
- Don’t leave dangerous household items around. For example, cleaning products, detergents, chemicals, paints and so on.
- Familiarize yourself with which foods can be toxic for dogs. For example, chocolate, alcohol, certain fruits (grapes), vegetables (onions, garlic, avocado) and nuts (macadamia), vitamins, etc. as these can be dangerous or toxic to dogs.
- For those with kids there are some extra things to keep in mind. Make sure to put away the kids toys so the dogs don’t get confused. Don’t leave nappies lying around. Yeast play dough, kinetic/no-mess sand can be toxic for dogs. Sultanas, raisins and grapes are particularly deadly for dogs too and can cause kidney failure so please make sure not to give these to your children when around dogs.
- Don’t be afraid to use baby gates or keep doors closed! Management can often be the key to success. Rather than tidying everything up and putting everything out of reach, you can also just restrict your puppy to certain areas of the house by using baby gates and/or closing doors.
In saying all of this, confinement training is also very important – especially whilst your pup is teething and learning to be house-trained as this will help keep him out of trouble. You can’t just give a puppy free run of your home without expecting to have accidents everywhere and to have things chewed up. Using an allocated room, a play pen or crate is great for this. When your puppy is freely roaming your home or garden, make sure to have all eyes on supervising and helping to guide your puppy. This is not unkind at all, in fact it will actually make the pup feel happier and more secure in a smaller space to begin with and really help with housetraining.
Puppy Proofing your Garden
Puppy proofing your garden is also very important, as this is where your pup will most likely spend a lot of time. Whilst your puppy is young, I recommend always supervising when they are outside.
- Strong and secure fencing is a must! Make sure that your fence is solid with no broken areas or openings underneath, or on the corners, where a little puppy could slip through.
- There are a number of common plants and bushes that are poisonous, toxic or just irritants to dogs. It’s not just the plants themselves that can be a problem, remember the insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers. If you are unsure about your plants, you can always take a little piece of them to your vet or local gardener and ask them – I did!
- There are so many other potential hazards outside that you must be aware of… Things like sticks, rocks, gravel, outdoor furniture, kids toys, garden hose and sprinkler systems are other outdoor items puppies might enjoy eating or destroying. I’m not saying you need to get rid of these but please just be aware and supervise your pup at all times. And if need be, fence off any areas that are just too unsafe for them, at least for during their puppy stage of life.
- Swimming pools and fish ponds should be fully fenced off too – secure enough that a little puppy can’t squeeze through.
How far you decide to go with puppy proofing is totally up to you. But just remember that puppy proofing your home and garden isn’t just important in terms of keeping your belongings safe, it’s crucial to your puppy’s health and safety too.
Make sure to have a read of this too if you haven’t already…