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Perhaps it involved months of planning, research, and preparation, or maybe you just couldn’t resist those puppy-dog eyes at the local Adopt-A-Pet event. However it came about, he (or she) has arrived: you’re bringing home your new puppy!
Puppy proofing your home is a constant work-in-progress. You think you have managed to secure, hide or move every source of potential puppy prankery; then you come home to find the butter has mysteriously gone missing or a two-hundred-yard trail of toilet paper leading from the upstairs bathroom.
We will cover that.
Unfortunately, the majority of puppy-proofing checklists stop there. But providing a safe, secure home for your new puppy goes well beyond their physical safety.
In this comprehensive puppy proofing guide, we also cover the emotion, mental and health aspects of your new puppy’s safety. A well-thought-out, all-inclusive plan results in successful bonding for puppy and family.
This guide is a manual for new owners, plus a go-to reference after your puppy is all grown-up. Areas covered include:
By following the tips, hints, and suggestions throughout this guide you can look forward to successfully providing a safe, nurturing, and fun home environment for your new furry family member.
From Samoyeds to Saint Bernards; Bullmastiffs to Bernese Mountain Dogs; and Pinchers to Poodles, large breed dogs present additional challenges solely due to their size.
Your puppy is excited to be in his new home. And he wants to explore every nook and cranny. We mean every nook and cranny! This natural curiosity will mold a dog’s unique personality. It can also put them in harm’s way.
Here we take you room by room, educating you on things that present potential dangers to your puppy’s physical well-being.
The average household has over 50 toxic chemicals. The majority are found in cleaning products. Most can be deadly if consumed.
Puppy proofing hack: if your cabinet doors have knobs, weave thick rubber bands in a figure-eight around neighboring knobs of adjoining doors
This is the space where you, your family, and pup will potentially spend the most time. When you are gone for an extended period of time your puppy will probably venture into the room that is most familiar. Be extra vigilant in your puppy proofing efforts here.
“Paws” for some advice: purchase a basket or tote specifically to hold all your meant-for-puppy toys; keep the basket in the area where your puppy tends to spend the most time.
Puppy Note: Because of their insatiable curiosity, we suggest completing the majority of your puppy proofing before your new companion arrives.
Puppy Proofing Hack: run electrical cords through thin PVC pipe to secure ones you can’t avoid keeping in plain site
“Paws” for Effect: What currently reminds you of a cuddly teddy bear will reach full height and weight in ten to sixteen months. Your “puppy” — yes, they still have that mentality — will now weigh between 50-90 lbs.
Puppies are naturally curious. They love to explore. Exploration is how any puppy becomes accustomed to a new environment, learns new skills, and develops physical coordination.
This natural curiosity can result in some serious messes and borderline catastrophes. But when a puppy is disciplined for acting on a natural instinct this can create confusion and develop a pattern of negative emotions.
Neuroscientific studies conducted on canines offer strong evidence that dogs experience emotions — joy or happiness, sadness, and fear. Just like humans, these feelings grow stronger as the puppy develops solid bonds with a new family.
Reduce the need to discipline your puppy for acting on natural instincts by relocating or properly securing potential “troublemakers.”
Puppy Proofing Note: These large dogs will take several years to reach full maturity. Don’t be surprised to find that your big dog may be as tall as your hips but still act like a puppy. Until they are about 2 or 3 years old, they are going to be playful, clumsy, and energetic.
Puppies use chewing as a way to stay bonded when owners are away. Why do you think your old sneakers (or two-time worn pumps) become favorite “chew toys?” They are riddled with your scent. Puppies will continue to obsessively chew for about 10 months, or when their permanent teeth begin to develop.
Mentally preparing yourself and your family for potential chew-fests will decrease the necessity to discipline your puppy. Remind everyone in the house to store anything that might find its way into the puppy’s mouth.
Check Out Our Post: 8 Effective Strategies to Stop a Puppy from Biting or Chewing
Puppies get bored. And they don’t have the luxury of turning on the TV or cracking open a good book.
Before and after your new puppy arrives purchase large breed durable chew toys to prevent your pet from relieving boredom by playing tug-of-war with the couch cushions.
Before the puppy arrives ask yourself: “If I were a puppy what would look like loads of fun (and trouble) to me?” Then take the appropriate action.
SEE ALSO: 10 Best Interactive Dog Toys
Just like humans, dogs may suffer from mental disturbances such as stress, anxiety and even depression. A big stressor, especially for your new puppy, is being left alone.
Be aware of circumstances that may cause a puppy to feel separation anxiety. You can be proactive in preparing for the behaviors that follow. Reasons a puppy might feel anxious include:
Recommended Reading: What Can I Give My Dog for Anxiety? 8 Calming Treatments
It is a common practice of animal-care professionals and zookeepers to provide nervous animals with a den-like space. A dog crate offers the perfect solution for your canine companion. Crates provide a secure and familiar space for retreat when your puppy is anxious.
Pawsitively Comfy: A dog crate should top your must-have list when preparing for your new puppy. Besides acting as your puppy’s “happy place” it is an indispensable tool during housebreaking. But it is important not to use the dog crate as a punishment. Your puppy will decide at an early age to avoid and even dislike the crate, defeating the purpose for which it should be used.
Recommended Reading: The 5 Best Crates for Large Dogs
Your dog’s mental well-being affects the entire dog-owner experience. Failing to nurture a dog’s mental health is a common reason dog owners eventually throw in the towel in frustration, posting photos of Fido on a dog rescue site the next day.
Develop positive mental health at an early stage through training and dog obedience. Enforce boundaries immediately upon your new puppy’s arrival. Training offers structure, methods for simple behavior modification and opportunities for bonding.
Proper training decreases the potential for future headaches and guarantees your puppy proofing efforts were not in vain.
That thought (along with the gotta-play-gotta-play-gotta-play mantra) dominates your young pup’s brain. They will try to eat anything.
The first step to puppy-proofing for your puppy’s health involves removing potential health risks. Keep these items out of your puppy’s paws to ensure a safe environment:
“Paws” to Consider: You do not want to feed these dogs a high-calorie food! Somewhere between 350 and 380 calories is good. This moderate calorie count will keep them from developing too quickly, which can aggravate or cause their bone and joint problems, causing canine arthritis.
A more sedentary lifestyle, especially in large breed dogs, leads to obesity and a shorter life expectancy. A survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) revealed that in the United States 56% of dogs are overweight.
Obviously, exercise is going to be key to your puppy’s growth and development. Preparing your mind ahead of time is the best puppy proofing you can do in this area.
“Paws” to Stretch: It’s recommended that at this point of your puppy’s life, protect their joints and ligaments by avoiding activities like: Running or jogging on pavement, concrete, or other hard surfaces; jumping down from high places like the bed, the back of a truck, etc.; playing on slippery surfaces like waxed floors, wet ground, ice, etc.; playing too rough.
Establishing healthy habits early in your puppy’s development, which also may include supplementing with glucosamine, not only increases longevity but lowers the risk of potential ailments prevalent in large breed dogs.
Tackling your puppy proofing might seem like a daunting task. Whether you’ve had your puppy for a while or are planning for your puppy’s first night home, it’s not too late to put this advice into action. Commit to one room a day and before you know it you’ll have the perfect puppy-proofed pad.
Although there is no way to anticipate every possible hazard that exists in your home, we hope you found this puppy proofing checklist to be thorough. If we forgot something important, please share it. Let us, and other puppy owners know in the comments below.