Puppies are the cutest things in the world (tied with kittens). There’s no denying it. But adopting a puppy isn’t for everybody because — let’s face another fact — they’re a handful. They’re very curious and no one has trained them to do, well, anything. That’s all up to you. If you’re ready for the responsibility of caring for and training a puppy, that’s great. But no matter how vigilant you are, you’ll still need to make changes around the house for your puppy’s safety. Your puppy will find ways to get into trouble that you’ve never even dreamed of, so you may as well prepare for the things you can predict. We’ll show you how.
1. Lock up your food.
It’s a bad idea to encourage your puppy to snack on people food, and some foods you enjoy are downright deadly for dogs. Nice fresh grapes laying out on the kitchen counter? Put ‘em up high or in the fridge, because grapes are dog poison. Got candy bars or little bowls of M&Ms out in your living areas? Not anymore. Chocolate is a big doggy no-no. For the sake of your puppy’s safety, hide the goodies. For more information, read our guide to unsafe people foods for cats and dogs.
2. Separate your dog’s meds from your own meds.
When you think about it, we leave our medications in a lot of accessible areas. Your pills might hang around on the bathroom counter, the kitchen counter, the kitchen table, a coffee table, a bedside table, in your purse or anywhere else people tend to absent-mindedly take and leave their meds. Without pets, it make sense to have your pills out where you can grab them easily. With a new pet, it’s a habit you should break immediately. Pills, even everyday, over-the-counter stuff like Tylenol and Advil, can be deadly if a pet swallows them. Keep them in the medicine cabinet, and if your pup has meds of her own, keep them in a totally different location so you don’t accidentally mix them up.
3. Install locks on cabinets.
Wherever you store your puppy’s food, it probably won’t take him very long to figure out where the stuff is. If you’re like most people, it’s probably somewhere in the kitchen, in a cupboard. Not only do you NOT want your pup to raid his own food, but it could also be hazardous for him to get into anything else in your kitchen cabinets, be it your own food, or cleaning products and other household chemicals. Consider installing baby locks on the cabinets as an extra deterrent to keep your hungry/curious dog from pawing his way into the nooks and crannies where he’s not supposed to go.
4. Keep your purse out of your dog’s reach. There’s probably poison in there.
Depending on your habits, the bag you carry could have a few key items in it or half your belongings. The more you carry in your purse, the greater the chances your puppy could find something dangerous in there if he goes snooping. The whole point of having a purse is the utility of it, which means it is often out and easily accessible, and not just to you. Get in the habit of keeping it where your puppy can’t get to. You wouldn’t want him eating your makeup, loose change or other small items that could at the very least lead to choking or digestive blockage. Of particular concern is sugarless gum. If yours has xylitol in it, it is deadly to your dog.
5. Put the toilet lid down.
Some studies have shown that toilet water can actually have less bacteria present than other surfaces in the bathroom. “If that’s true, then shouldn’t my dog be safe drinking from the toilet?” Not so fast, cowboy. Yes, it’s possible to keep your toilet fairly clean, but it takes more than flushing. You need to go to work with some pretty harsh chemicals to get that bowl sparkling. So take your pick: Do you want your toilet-water-guzzling dog to be drinking loads of bacteria or loads of harsh chemicals? If you said “neither,” keep the lid down on your toilet and make sure your pup has fresh, clean water in his bowl at all times so he doesn’t go looking for alternative sources.
6. Keep a lid on your trash can or store it away.
Dog can be surprisingly (even disgustingly) indiscriminate about what they choose to ingest and puppies are even worse. Since they’ll eat just about anything that fits in their faces, who can blame them for being lured into your garbage can by the heavenly smell of chicken or pork scraps? Not to mention the fruit and vegetables, coffee grounds, paper, plastic and yummy sharp things. Don’t let Fido go digging. Keep a lid on things, literally, or better yet, keep your trash can in a closet, cupboard or one of those handy pull-out trash-can drawers. Also train your puppy to know that trash cans are off-limits.
7. Forget about mouse/rat poison and pesticides.
One of the most dangerous poisons you may have at home is, well, straight-up poison — rodenticide, that is. Some critters make their way into your house uninvited and unwanted, and rat poison is how you get rid of them. We get that. But bear in mind that rat poisons are specifically formulated to be appetizing in order to get rats to eat them. The problem is that it’s not just rats that think they’re yummy treats; your hungry puppy will go after them too, if given the chance. If your dog accidentally eats some of this stuff, bring the package to the vet so he or she knows what kind of poison you’re dealing with. But it’s better to be safe than sorry, so get rid of the poison before disaster strikes. If you still have a rodent problem, find a more humane way of dealing with it — one that won’t cause collateral damage to your pets.
8. Make the garage a dog-free zone. There’s probably poison in there.
If you have a garage, you probably use it to store a lot of cleaning products and other chemicals, and we’re not talking about vinegar and baking soda — we mean the heavy stuff. The garage is a popular place for that stuff because it’s in your house but also not in your house. And that’s fine, except when you have a dog — the garage can be the most dangerous place of all. Bleach, drain cleaner, motor oil and lots of electric cables: Whatever it is, it’s probably dangerous, and your puppy probably wants to put her mouth on it. Antifreeze is infamously the most dangerous of all, since its sweet taste is so enticing, and it takes only a teaspoon of the stuff to destroy a dog’s kidneys. Train your dog to know the garage is a no-no place, and put everything up high and/or lock it away where a curious pup can’t get to it, just in case.
9. Check your plants. Dump the toxic ones.
Just because you have pets doesn’t mean you can’t also have plants. Plants are an important part of any cozy home. But not all plants get along with animals the same way. Many common household plants are highly toxic and even deadly to curious puppies. Cats are typically more prone to chewing on plants than dogs, but that doesn’t mean dogs are never curious. Puppies especially love to eat anything they have near their faces. Research all the plants in your home and toss the ones that could harm your dog, including jade, chrysanthemum and cyclamen, to name just a few. Read our guide to dangerous plants for more information.
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10. Sweep or vacuum regularly.
If you live alone, you’re kind of allowed to be as messy as you want. If you drop something on the floor and leave it there, it’s not going to bother anybody but you. Once you have a puppy around, though, that messy floor becomes an obstacle of puppy hazards. Every dropped thumbtack, coin or piece of candy is potentially very dangerous. And rest assured that your puppy will find every one of those items and put its mouth on them. Tidy up your floors to keep your puppy safe.
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