Monday, 17 November 2014

Puppy Proofing your Home

So, you have decided to get a puppy... If you, like me, have never had a puppy, then there a few things that you should consider looking into to make your home and general experience safer and happier – for both of you! Despite your best efforts to keep them occupied by other means, they will still find time to get themselves into mischief even if you take your eyes off of them for 2 minutes... The information in this post is from my first-hand experiences... It is not meant to shock or scare you, but to just give you some helpful advice. :)

Before we got our first furry kid, we (thought) we knew what we were in for and so we (thought we) ‘beagle-proofed’ our home as best we could. Little did we know... Thinking about it now, it is somewhat like kid-proofing a house in a way! Except that human kids don’t really eat your TV remote control.
It isn’t just about putting things away though: dogs will eat the most random of things given the chance... I know dogs that have even eaten the window putty out of windows and mine have chewed their wooden kennel and even gnawed at our furniture...

"Me? No, I would never eat your slipper!" - Ollie Puppy, 8 weeks

The first and most obvious thing to do is put anything (valuable or not!) out of reach (and keep remembering to do so!) that you don’t want stolen, chewed or eaten. This means putting things in cupboards, on high surfaces etc. Here are some examples of things you must make sure you do to prevent accidents happening:

  1. If your new addition is likely to be able to get onto your bed, make sure you don't leave your medicines, jewellery or anything else dangerous to them on your side table. Rather put it in the drawer.
  2. Your handbag – don’t leave it open and unattended on the floor or in reach. Ladies, we know how much random ‘stuff’ we keep in our bags these days: medicines, cigarettes, sweeteners, chocolate, make up etc. can all make our dogs sick or even worse, be fatal.
  3. If your dog is likely to be a kitchen counter-top surfer, make sure that you don’t leave your stove on unsupervised, don’t leave food out that could tempt them and remember to switch off any plug points just in case they decide to chew on the cables of anything plugged into them! My vet has a beagle and she managed to chomp her way through an entire bag of sugar from the counter-top. As you can imagine, she was one very ill beagle! 
  4. Make sure that those little paws can’t open cupboards containing all of your household chemicals! You can buy special cupboard latches at Baby City and Builders Warehouse.
  5. Remove ALL Ant traps, cockroach traps, mouse traps and rat poison that you may  have dotted around. 
  6. Keep them out of the garage if you have chemicals, anti-freeze and fertilizers laying about, or put them out of reach on a high shelf or in a secure cupboard.
  7. Close the toilet lid! Doggies can drown!
  8. Make sure your dustbins are not in reach or have tight closing lids. Despite the possibility of a huge mess if they manage to get into them, there could be dangerous foods or objects in there.   
  9. If you have a TV cabinet with a mass of cables behind it or a desk with all of your hanging computer cables, try to make a plan and hide them from immediate reach. We put boards at the sides at the back of our TV unit to stop our two going behind and chomping on cables and then I mounted my extension cable fitting with all of my computer related plugs, onto the wall behind my desk. Some info here:
  10. Don’t leave any sewing materials around. Needles and thread are really nasty hazards. (Blog post to come, on that!) 
  11. With Christmas looming, make sure Fido isn’t going to have a field day with your Christmas tree... We have to put ours on a special table, just in case someone decides to chomp on the fairy lights... Also, glass ornaments can be rather dangerous if broken and swallowed! 
  12. Your beautiful flowers from hubby or your humble house plant could be a hazard. Tulips and carnations are noted as being pretty dangerous to dogs! (Blog post on plants – to come!) 
  13. If you can’t completely dog-proof certain areas, close the doors to those areas or consider buying baby gates that can limit their access.

Despite the hazards above, the dog itself can be a hazard – to your furniture! The first thing our Ollie did when we brought him home was chew our brand new rug. He didn’t however chew any of our furniture. No, that was Zoe’s job – she became Chief Wood Carver and happily gnawed away at the legs of any standing wooden furniture object. Ollie then cottoned on to this and so I spent much time finding the right deterrent as the word ‘NO’ and a water spray bottle just didn’t cut it.
If your furry kid is doing the same – which is common during the teething stage and then just in general when they are bored, here are a few products that I used which definitely saved my furniture from having tooth pick legs:

Marltons Bitter Bite Spray - Spray onto anything that needs protection and leave to dry. I used it on the corners of their beds. No more chewing! Tip: If you spray it onto a movable object, rather take the object and spray it outside but make sure the spray will not go into your face if there is a breeze as it’s not nice to breathe in and obviously, it tastes awful too!

Avert Bitter Solution – This is THE worst tasting stuff you will ever encounter. My local pet supply store did their own test with this and regretted ever getting it onto their fingers. Use it with gloves or regret it deeply when you decide to eat your sticky BBQ ribs afterwards!!

Well, that just about covers the house... I hope you aren't too freaked out about all the things you should be aware of! Like I said, I speak from experience with these points and it is better to instill these habits now even if your new baby seems like an angel with a halo right now, as things can change. To be honest, our two are much better these days and don't cause as much havoc, but I still err on the side of caution! 

Next time I’ll be giving you some info on making your garden safer as there are many poisonous trees and plants out there that can make your furry baby rather sick... 

Until next time, keep calm and have fun dog proofing your house! :)

PS. Dogs have a tendency to blame the cat...

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