(Foyle and Hazel @ 11 weeks old!)
You know that saying "If only I knew then what I know now"? Well, I think that especially applies to dogs and how you to make it through the puppy stage! Little did I know that the 4 lb. dachshund above (aka Wilma, then Hazel) would chew through more pairs of shoes than I could keep track of and every zipper on every jacket and bag that I owned. Then there was the 23 lb. bundle of joy that broke 5 windows (yes, 5 without requiring one stitch), ate through a new couch, and destroyed most of the wood furniture that we owned at the time! If only I would have known then what I know now!
If you are planning on getting a new puppy, or are even dealing with an energetic ball of fur right now then here are some tips to puppy proof your home, and for you to keep your sanity. Actually, we still "dog proof" our house before we leave!
- Provide a "safe house" for your puppy like a crate or an x-pen where your dog can go to relax and sleep and feel safe from the world. (Pick up a few books about crate games that you can play so your puppy feels that the crate is a secure, safe place to stay.)
- Make sure all knick-knacks and valuables are out of reach for your puppy, as well as children's toys and game pieces that could easily be eaten.
- Place wires from electronic devices like stereos, lamps, iphone chargers, etc. out of reach.
- Move common houseplants out of reach, many are toxic! You can find a list here.
- Keep foods off of tables, counters, coffee tables, etc. as well as securing the lid to the trash bin.
- Keep laundry, shoes, socks, jackets, and bags off of the floor or low areas where the puppy can find them. (trust me on this one! keep that closet door shut tight!)
- Keep medications, cleaners, fertilizers, and chemicals locked up tight. Make sure that if you have a compost pile that the puppy can't access any clippings or debris.
- Books and magazines and toilet paper can be very tasty and fun to play with so place those up high where they can't be pulled off a table or counter.
- Bitter apple didn't seem to work too well for us but it might work for your dog to keep them from chewing on items they shouldn't!
What do you do if you work and need to leave your puppy at home? This is a tough one and an issue I had to deal with when I brought Foyle home, which is why we ended up with our furniture being eaten! My recommendation is to not give your pup full reign of the house too early.....that spells disaster and can be very dangerous.
- Play with your puppy before you go to work. A little stimulation can help dissolve some of that puppy energy for part of the day.
- Make up stuffed kongs or hide treats in your puppy "room" for him/her to "find" during the day. (make sure they are small enough or large enough to minimize choking although watching your puppy is preferred.)
- If you can, hire a certified, licensed dog walker or find a safe daycare once your puppy has had all of their shots.
- If you live close enough drop on by for lunch and have a play session with your puppy.
- Set up a puppy "room" where your dog is safe, has room to turn around and play, plenty of water, and is cool enough to keep your pup comfortable. This can be a large area created by an x-pen or an entire room! Keep his/her crate in the puppy room where they can go and sleep during the day. Corner off a section for a bathroom area.
How do you keep a puppy occupied? Training! Make it fun and exciting and training sessions become play sessions for your puppy and they won't know the difference. Here are some games and tips that I'm definitely going to use with my next puppy:
- Even if you don't plan on competing with your puppy, cross training your dog builds self confidence and coordination.
- Get your puppy to use that smart little brain by playing games like the shell game, hide and seek, scent games, and targeting.
- Socialize, socialize, socialize! I started bringing Foyle to work when he was 13 weeks old and walking him around to meet my coworkers during lunch and breaks. It totally paid off and he's happy to meet pretty much everyone who wants to meet him! (make sure your puppy has all of his/her shots before you take your dog out in public places though!)
What's your favorite puppy-proofing advice for those about to get a puppy or going through the puppy blues?