Puppy incoming! How to dog-proof your home ready for the new arrival

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  • You have your darling bundle of fluff home – but very quickly the honeymoon is over and chaos begins, so you need to prepare in advance and work out how to dog-proof your home. Until you do, nothing in your home is safe – and unfortunately that means nor is your dog, because he doesn’t always know what’s good for him.

    Puppies are into everything. In fact, many older dogs are too, but puppies are often teething, and they haven’t yet learned what’s fair game and what’s out of bounds. They explore, help themselves to any object whether it’s food, shoes or plug sockets, and generally make a nuisance of themselves – and potentially to themselves. Which is why, before the puppy even enters the house, you need to know how to dog-proof your home. This applies to older dogs too – especially in the case of rescue dogs, some of which may have been neglected or had to scavenge to survive.

    How to dog-proof your home: the checklist

    Inside the house

    Wires and cables are a major risk. You should never leave your puppy on his own with live wires to appliances. Tuck or hide cords under furniture so that he cannot reach them, or you can conceal them with a flexible spiral wrap (like this one on Amazon), cord concealer or plastic piping, such as this cable protector (found on Amazon), to keep them out of the way of his teeth.

    Food is usually too good to resist. But not all human food is appropriate or even safe for dogs, for example chocolate and grapes are poisonous. Don’t imagine just because it is out of reach or sight that they cannot get to it somehow. Dogs jump, they stand up on their hindlegs to reach more than double their four-legged height, and they have remarkably stretchy necks when something smells delicious on the dining table. You will also need a dog-proof waste bin (like this one on Amazon).

    Be tidy! If you value your shoes, don’t leave them lying around. More significantly, we are all guilty of leaving a packet of pills on the table, or a bleach bottle out on the side. But potentially harmful household items, such as medicines and cleaning products must be shut in a cupboard that cannot be opened by a clever, exploring paw. You can use inexpensive kiddy cupboard locks, such as these ones on Amazon, to keep your cupboards out of bounds.

    You’ll need to decide whether your dog is going to be allowed on sofas or the bed. If they not, start training how to keep dogs off the couch immediately. There are various bits of kit that can help you with this, but consistency is key. It’s also imperative that you keep dining chairs tucked neatly under the table so that he cannot hop up on there – assuming this is one piece of furniture we’re all agreed is out of bounds!

    Flexible cable cover at amazon.co.uk
    Available in a range of width and length combinations, this cable cover is available in black or white.

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    Pet-proof bin at amazon.co.uk
    This touch-free bin has an on/off lock that prevents unwanted visitors opening the lid.

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    Cupboard locks at amazon.co.uk
    These child-proof (and pet-proof) cupboard locks come in a pack of six and work on “mushroom-shaped” doorknobs as well as D-shaped knobs.

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    The garden

    Don’t forget the garden. Some plants are toxic, so should be fenced off, and bear in mind that this also applies to certain household plants. As with household cleaning products, the same goes for the likes of weed killers and slug pellets – keep them locked away. And rat poison is lethal for dogs, so find alternative methods of pest control, such as rat traps, like this one on Amazon, or a professional exterminator, if this is a problem.

    Composting food is another area to organise. Dogs love to dig around a rotting pile picking out what they think are choice morsels, which may be harmful to them – not to mention messy. You will need a screw-top bin, such as this one on Amazon, to prevent them helping themselves. Likewise with your regular waste bins. I know of a golden retriever who had to have an operation to remove an entire bin bag from his stomach – plastic and contents – because his owner left the wheelie bin lid ajar. Straps are available to secure your wheelie bin, like these we found on Amazon, with the added bonus that they keep foxes out, too.

    And is your garden adequately fenced so that the dog cannot escape? The bigger the dog, the higher the fence. As a general rule, 1.8m is sufficient for most dogs. Even little dogs can be super climbers. And some like to dig their way out into the big wide world too, so keep an eye on that behaviour – mercifully it’s not quite as quick as a leap over the fence but you need to stop nuisance-digging instantly before it becomes a habit, for the sake of your garden and the dog’s safety. If your dog has an insatiable need to dig, buy him a sandpit. Most dog paddling pools double up well as a sandpit if you fill them with sand rather than water.

    Screw-top compost bin at amazon.co.uk
    Keep your dog out of the compost bin by purchasing one with a screw-on lid.

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    Wheelie bin lock at amazon.co.uk
    Use this drill-free and glue-free lock to keep animals or the wind from opening and emptying your bin.

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    A further matter to consider is helping your puppy not to develop destructive habits before they become ingrained. Puppies are easily bored, and love entertainment. Play games with him and occupy him with one of the best puzzle toys so that he is ready for a kip rather than searching for adventure. For the teething pup, have a ready supply of the best teething toys for puppies so he can soothe his gums on those rather than a table leg. The best chew toys for all ages will help keep him entertained and give his chewing instincts something to work on.

    Enjoy the challenge, and fend off the chaos before it starts!

    Nylabone Teething Toy at amazon.co.uk
    Soak and freeze the whole bone and cloth of this interactive dog toy for a cool texture with added teething relief. It is flavoured and the flavour won’t wear off.

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    Outward Hound Nina Ottosson Puzzle Toys at amazon.co.uk
    Choose from 31 puzzle toys across four levels of difficulty to exercise your dog’s mind and keep him stimulated.

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