Ten ways to puppy proof your home
Dog ownership is on the rise but introducing a four legged friend into your household is no mean feat. That’s why, with a little help from our friends at Blue Cross, we’ve devised the top ten things that every dog owner should know before safely bringing their new canine companion home.
With Pinterest predicting that ‘Barkitecture’ is set to be huge in 2022, we can see why Gen Z and millennials are looking for creative ways to make their home enjoyable for their dogs. However, getting a new dog is not a simple task, and should never be taken lightly. There are several things you need to consider before bringing your new pooch through the front door, to make it feel comfortable and most importantly, have the best possible experience raising them.
With all this in mind, we spoke to Karly Smith, animal behaviourist at animal welfare charity Blue Cross, to offer advice to people who are looking to puppy proof their home:
Before you bring your dog home…
1 - Invest in sturdy dog gates
No, they’re not just for babies and toddlers. Stair and safety gates can be a great investment for new pet owners, as they allow your dog to have the freedom to roam around a floor or a room, while blocking them from entering unsafe areas.
It will also give you that extra peace of mind should you get a visitor or need to open your front door, as you won’t have to worry about them trying to escape!
2 - Make sure everyone agrees on the house rules
In your household, everyone needs to make sure that the dog follows the same rules.
Karly says: “Most dogs are generally good at adapting to new environments. However, make sure that everyone has the same expectations when it comes to things such as, whether they are allowed access to the sofa or not, as conflicting house rules can be confusing for dogs.”
3 - Remove any poisonous plants
Did you know that some plants should be off limits since they’re not completely safe for dogs? Before your pet moves in, research which plants you need to avoid, remove from the house or keep in a room that the dog doesn’t have access to.
Some examples of plants that you shouldn’t have around your pup include aloe vera, holly, lilies, spider plants, and even food you’re growing such as rosemary, grapes and raisins.
4 - Store food safely away
Dogs have a tendency to get snoopy on kitchen workspaces, so before they move in, make sure that you store your food safely, so that they can’t reach anything. There are also certain foods and drinks that can be dangerous for dogs to consume, including rhubarb leaves, onions, chocolate and alcohol.
5 - Consider your working habits
Some dogs are much more active than others, so it’s important to recognise how your daily habits will be affected before committing to a new member of the family. If you’re currently working 9-5 in the office, you might want to request to work from home more regularly, at least for the first few months.
Karly says, “Dogs are social animals and love to be around humans, so if you work long hours then you’ll need to factor this into your decision and consider your lifestyle and routine. Would you like a dog that needs a lot of exercise or would you prefer one who takes it a bit steadier?”
When your new furry family member moves in…
6 - Be conscious of washing machines
According to Karly, “Depending on the age and life experience of your dog, they may not be used to things like the sound of your washing machine or stairs, so what we consider to be everyday experiences could be worrisome.
“If you have just brought home a new puppy, it is important to expose them to new sights, sounds and textures in and around your home to get them familiar with the world around them.”
One way to ease them into new sounds is by audio recording these sounds and playing them to your dog on a low volume, raising the volume slowly over the span of several days.
7 - Get them a safe space for some alone time
We all need our me time, and that’s no different for dogs. According to Karly, “Ensuring that your dog has access to their own resting places can help them to feel more comfortable in their new home. Some dogs may benefit from a crate in a quieter area of the home to help them to settle.”
If your home is open plan, give your dog somewhere to hide out when it gets busy. Consider a place in the kitchen or a utility room, or a spare room for when you have people over.
8 - Have limited visitors
We get it, when you have a new dog you’ll want to show them off to all of your friends and family. But your new pooch might not be as keen to greet visitors to its new territory. In fact, an influx of people could be overwhelming.
Instead, ask your guests to ignore the dog when they first walk into your home, so instead your pet can make their own decision on how comfortable they feel. And don’t have a huge rush of people at your home at once - if you can, do it one at a time.
9 - Regularly cover any loose wires
Dogs, and especially puppies, love to chew almost anything at their disposal. Of course, if they try to chew electrical wires, this could be very dangerous.
You can purchase chew deterrent sprays to make wires unappealing to chew, however it’s worth noting that every dog reacts differently to smells. For now, keep electrical cords hidden from view, try to cover any exposed wires with cord protectors and unplug any appliances that you’re not using. If your dog is teething, get them lots of chew toys so they’re distracted!
10 - Don’t spend 24/7 with your dog while working from home
So many of us are working from home more often, which is of course brilliant for our pooches…in theory! When you’re around all of the time, dogs can become used to this constant companionship, and then have a difficult time adjusting when you go out, leading to separation anxiety.
When working from your home office, it might be tempting to be surrounded by your new furry co-worker - but you might also find it much more difficult to focus. Instead, sit in a separate, pup-free room and set designated play times, so you still have something to look forward to. To avoid interruption, keep your dog occupied with plenty of toys, to prevent them from getting bored and making a mess around the house.
Finally - give it time!
It can take a minimum of three weeks for your dog to feel comfortable in its new surroundings and begin to trust its owner. That’s a lot of time, and that means that it can be tricky at the start, but hold out.
Remember, a dog is for life
Dogs provide us with a sense of security, emotional wellbeing and can increase our moods. But before you get a dog, make sure you’re clued up on the responsibilities that this entails, and how it will affect your current life plan and finances. And should you get a dog, consider adopting one, which is less expensive than buying a dog from a breeder, and gives the pooch a second chance of happiness.
To find out more about dogs which are waiting for a home, visit https://www.bluecross.org.uk/rehome/dog