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Puppy-Proofing Your Home

A good solution to this is a crate. A crate is any container, made of wire mesh or plastic, that will hold the puppy comfortably, with enough room to stand and curl up and sleep, but not too much that it can eliminate in one corner. See the section on housetraining below. Other solutions include fencing off part of the house, say the kitchen or garage or building an outside run. Be sure the area is puppy-proofed.

Please put your pup in an environment it can’t destroy. Puppies are too immature to handle temptations. Depending on the breed, most dogs begin to gain the maturity to handle short stints with mild temptations when they’re about 6 months old. Consider the analogy with a baby, where you keep it in a crib, stroller, or pen if you are not holding it.

It is essential to puppy-proof your home. You should think of it in the same way as child-proofing your house but be more thorough about it. Puppies are smaller and more active than babies and have sharp teeth and claws. Things of especial concern are electric wires. If you can get through the puppy stages without having your pup get a shock from chewing a wire you are doing a great job! When puppy proofing your home, get down on your hands and knees (or lower if possible) and consider things from this angle. What looks enticing, what is breakable, what is sharp, etc. The most important things are watching the puppy and, of course, crating it or otherwise restraining it when you can’t watch it.

Another step in puppy proofing is house proofing the puppy. Teach it what is and isn’t chewable. The single most effective way to do this is by having a ready supply of chewable items on hand. When the puppy starts to chew on an unacceptable item (be it a chair, rug, or human hand), remove the item from the puppy’s mouth with a stern, “NO!” and replace it with a chew toy and praise the puppy for playing with the toy. If you are consistent about this, the puppy will get the idea that only the things you give it are to be chewed on! Don’t stint on the praise, and keep the “No!” to a single calm, sharp noise — don’t yell or scream the word.

There are some products that can help make items unpalatable and thus aid in your training. Bitter Apple and Bitter Orange (available at most pet stores) impart a bitter taste to many things without staining, etc. You should not depend on these products to keep your puppy safe, but use them as a training aid.

A short checklist:

  • Breakables up out of reach
  • All wiring and cords put out of reach behind furniture, or encased in hard plastic flexible tubing (available at hardware stores, can be cut to size) to slow puppy down
  • Anything small enough to be swallowed (pennies, bounce balls, shoelaces, bits of paper, socks, nuts, bolts, wire) removed from the floor
  • Block access behind furniture wherever possible
  • Put childrens toys and stuffed animals away

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