Getting Ready for your New Puppy

Puppy-Proofing Your Home

Bringing home a new puppy is like bringing a baby into your home that can already crawl! The best time to puppy-proof your home is before the puppy arrives, but if you haven't started, now is the best time. An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure - and might even save your puppy's life.

We suggest that you take a tour of your home, with the following things in mind, and make changes accordingly.

The Kitchen:

Inquisitive puppies may not have hands to pry open cabinet doors, but they do have strong little muzzles and surprisingly agile little paws. If you don't want to move all the cleaning supplies from beneath the sink, be sure to install a childproof cabinet latch. Keep your trash and garbage containers locked away as well, unless you want to risk having their contents strewn all over the kitchen. Particularly appetizing garbage (such as chicken bones) should be stored well out of harm's way. Food left in wrappers can be harmful or life threatening if the puppy ingests any of the wrapper and it becomes lodged in the gastrointestinal tract.

Some foods can pose hazards for dogs because of their different metabolism. Some may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas others can cause severe illness, and even death. Check the contents of your pantry and move all foodstuffs that are harmful to dogs to a shelf that is out of reach.

Potential Hazards:
  • All household cleansers and chemicals
  • Sharp objects such as aluminum cans and lids
  • Dangerous foods, including:
    • Chocolate (can be fatal and dogs will happily eat large quantities of it)
    • Grapes & raisins (can be fatal)
    • Bones (small or sharp)
    • Caffeine (sources include coffee grounds and tea bags)
    • Fruit pits
    • Nutmeg
    • Walnuts

The Bathroom:

They can't eat it if they can't reach it! A puppy's sharp little teeth would have no trouble biting through that shampoo bottle left sitting on the bathtub ledge. Keep all soaps, bath lotions and oils, shampoo and cream rinses, cosmetics and medications stored safely out of reach. The same goes for the bathroom trashcan. Remember, puppies will chew on anything!

Potential Hazards: Bar soap, shampoo, crème rinse, tub and tile cleaner, cosmetics, medications (including over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin, Motrin, Tylenol, etc.), cotton balls and swabs, tampons, disposable razors and razor blades.

The Bedroom:

You might think that your biggest worry here would be keeping the puppy away from you favorite shoes, but of more concern is what is left on your nightstand. It is not enough to have childproof caps on your medicine bottles: puppies can chew right through plastic lids or bottles. Put all medications out of reach of the puppy! Keep coins, jewelry, eyeglasses and even dentures out of reach of curious puppies. I can personally attest that dogs find hearing aids very chewable! :-(

Potential Hazards: All medications, coins, jewelry, eyeglasses, contact lenses, dentures, television remote controls, and nylons & pantyhose. The latter items are not an uncommon cause of intestinal obstruction from pieces or even whole nylons being swallowed by puppies.

The Living Room/Family Room:

While a puppy won't find an array of chemical dangers here, he can find instant death if he chews through an electrical cord. Try to make cords in all rooms as inaccessible as possible by securing any extra length with a rubber band or tie placing the appliance and cord as close to the wall as possible. See that household plants are kept safely out of reach. Some of the most toxic plants are those that adorn the house at Christmas time. Mistletoe, holly berries and poinsettia are all poisonous. Houseplants are probably one of the most common things that puppies will get into that they shouldn't. Hobby supplies such as paints, glues, and sewing materials should be put away. Children's toys - particularly small wooden or plastic toys, marbles, etc. - should be kept away from the puppy. Make sure that the puppy's own toys are safe and don't pose a threat to him. For instance, throw out the leaking stuffed animal to prevent him from swallowing the stuffing. Be especially carefully with toys that contain squeakers; puppies can get the squeakers out and choke on them. Hard rubber "Kong™"-type or Cressite (English rubber) toys are good for puppies. You might also want to block off any stairs with a baby gate until your puppy is older, and more sure-footed.

The Garage/Basement:

The garage or basement of most homes contain a dizzying number of potentially lethal substances including paint thinner, gasoline, antifreeze, insecticides, gardening fertilizers, etc. The puppy should be kept OUT of this area and all hazards should be out of the puppy's reach. Many people do not realize that antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste to dogs, but is DEADLY if ingested! Rock salt for water softeners is another hazard that puppies love to eat.

The Yard:

Some of the same hazards encountered inside can also be found in the yard - namely plants and insecticides. Fencing around your plants and flowers will protect them as well as your puppy. Giving your puppy things that are ok to chew will make him less likely to feast on your flowers. When you are ready to apply insecticide or fertilizer on your yard, be sure to keep the puppy indoors until the treated area is completely dry. Backyard swimming pools or garden ponds can be a problem even for a Portuguese Water Dog. They can drown if left unattended in these areas. They need to learn to swim and be shown the way out of a pool.

Final Thoughts:

Until your puppy has worked through that "chew on everything" stage, try to keep a watchful eye on him and provide him a plentiful supply of safe toys. Only let him play in the yard with adequate supervision. When he cannot be properly supervised keep him in a confined area such as a dog crate or exercise pen with suitable chew toys (those made for strong chewers).

There is nothing quite as adorable as an energetic, rambunctious PWD puppy. By making his world safe and protected, he'll make yours full of fun, love and happiness for many years.

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