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PuppyProof Your Home

The basics

When your puppy comes home, don’t give him free run of the house. Make sure he’s supervised or in a crate. If you can’t watch him but want him nearby, tether him with a leash to a solid piece of furniture. As he gets better with chewing and potty training, you can gradually expand where he gets to roam. 

Always make sure your puppy has lots of toys that he’s allowed to play with and chew. Then he won’t be tempted to gnaw on furniture legs or your favorite sneakers.

Give your puppy plenty of exercise every day. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends at least 30 of running, fetching, playing or swimming. A tired puppy will be less likely to look for something else to do. 

What to watch for

Before you bring your new addition home, give your house a quick inspection. Here are some of the main temptations that can hurt your new pet — or cause some serious unwelcome damage.

Electric cords. Puppies can be tempted to chew and tug on wires dangling from lamps, TVs, computers and more. Tuck them out of sight or place them out of reach and unplug them when not in use. Check cords often for signs of fraying and damage. If your puppy doesn’t learn to leave the cords alone, buy cord covers at the hardware store or coat them in bitter-tasting anti-chew spray, sold at pet stores.

Medications and cleaners. Smart noses and paws can open cabinet doors. Move medications, household cleaners and laundry supplies where your puppy can’t reach. Use childproof latches on cabinets and drawers you don’t want opened. Also check the garage for antifreeze and cleaners and move them somewhere safe.

Trash cans. Whether it’s the kitchen garbage can or the bathroom trash, make sure all containers have lids or are tucked away inside a latched cabinet. Puppies love to go hunting for food (and used tissues). Even if the food doesn’t hurt him, the wrapper might.

Clothes and shoes. Keep your closet door shut all the time or dangling belts, shoelaces and shoes may prove to be too much for your puppy’s willpower. If possible, put shoes out of reach until he’s over his chewing stage. Buttons, drawstrings and cords cause serious problems if your puppy swallows them, so as soon as something’s loose, fix it or toss the item.

Knickknacks and toys. Put away breakable items — or at least move them onto a higher shelf — until your puppy is grown up enough to leave them alone. Keep children’s toys off the floor and make sure small pieces (like dice) are never around long enough for curious jaws to snatch them up.

Helpful tips

The more pet-friendly you make your home, the easier it will be to avoid puppy-related problems. Here are ways to help your home survive the first year or so of your new pet.

  • Put a comfy pet bed filled with toys in whichever rooms you’re in the most. If your puppy has a great place to hang out, she’ll be less likely to jump on the furniture.
  • Keep your puppy well groomed. A clean dog with short nails will do less damage if he’s trying to dig under the couch or curl up on the bed. Wipe his paws when he comes in from outside and clip the hair around his bottom so he leaves everything outside after his bathroom breaks.
  • If you can, change out vertical blinds and mini-blinds, which often don’t survive a puppy confrontation very well. Temporarily put away rugs with decorative, tempting fringe, especially if they’re not machine washable.
  • Buy some enzymatic cleaner made just for cleaning up pet messes. Hopefully you won’t have to use it much. But if you do, it will erase the smell so your pet won’t be tempted to revisit the spot.

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