Dog-proofing a house is not as daunting as you may think. Sure, dogs can be very much like children. They like to climb on the furniture, spill food and can make a mess if left to their own devices. However, it is important to remember that as long as all of their needs are met then your house should remain relatively unscathed.
Dog-proofing your house doesn’t have to be daunting.
When dog-proofing your house, it is crucial to take three key factors into consideration:
- Safety. Dogs are inquisitive by nature and will be compelled to explore every inch of their new territory. Therefore it is important to ensure that your house and, if applicable, garden are all safe spaces containing nothing hazardous that can cause your dog harm. If you are planning on bringing a puppy home then additional steps should be taken to ensure their safety, as they will lack the training and experience of an older dog when it comes to house etiquette.
- Ensure all bins are closed and trash bags tied out of reach. Dogs may go hunting through the garbage for empty cans and accidentally ingest something that could greatly harm them such as xylitol (chewing gum) or small bones that can become lodged in their throats.
- Particularly if you have a brand new puppy who loves to chew, cover all cords and wires.
- Do NOT leave any medication lying around in easy reach of your dog. What may be beneficiary for us could be fatal for canines, so it is imperative to remove anything that could cause your dog harm regardless of whether or not it appears initially edible.
- Ensure all cleaning products are stowed away in cupboards or in high places that your dog cannot reach. Most household products contain some degree of poisonous cocktail that should be avoided by dogs at all costs.
- If you live in a flat, make sure all of your windows are locked whenever your dog is home alone. I learned this the hard way with my dog Arya, who jumped out of our window on the second floor (miraculously emerging uninjured and with a flippant disregard for heights thereon after) and spent the following few hours wandering around the neighbourhood on her own before coming back home as soon as she heard my partner return from work.
- Stow away – or, better yet, get rid – of any toxic or poisonous houseplants that pose a threat to your dog’s delicate stomach.
- If appropriate, fence off sections of your house that pose a potential danger to your dog with baby gates and pens.
- Comfort. In order for your dog to feel safe and happy, their new home needs to be comfortable. Make sure that they have their own bed which is both large and soft enough for them, particularly if you plan on restricting their access to the furniture. Blankets are a good idea as dogs like to organise their own ‘nest.’ For many dogs, it is worth purchasing a crate for them that only they have access to. This provides them with a safe space where they can retreat to whenever they are overwhelmed or in need of privacy.
- Entertainment. A bored dog is a messy dog. Most dogs, especially puppies, tend to chew their owner’s furniture and possessions as a result of boredom – although separation anxiety can also be responsible for their incessant destructive tendencies, as dogs tend to chew things in the same way humans anxiously bite their nails. Plenty of toys can rectify this, and puzzle toys that your dog has to ‘solve’ in order to obtain treats hidden inside them are a perfect way of keeping your dog mentally stimulated.
Once you have identified and removed all potential hazards in your house, it is time to start considering the essential items you need to purchase in preparation for your dog coming home.
Once you have identified the hazards in your house that your dog does not need, it is time to focus on what they DO need.
Food And Water Bowls
First of all, your dog will need somewhere to eat and drink. I find it is better to allocate a place in the kitchen to place their bowls, so as your dog can identify which part of the room is ‘theirs.’ Dogs are like children in many ways. They crave structure and routine as this predictability is what provides them with a sense of safety.
If your dog is small then they have no need for a large water bowl and it might pose more of a risk than a benefit. Water dispensers are a fantastic idea for particularly thirsty puppies – Arya has had one for over a year now and it has saved so much time filling and refilling her bowl. Elevated bowls are also a good idea for flat-faced breeds as they do not have to struggle to reach the ground as much.
A soft, appropriately sized bed for your dog is crucial, especially if they are not allowed on beds and/or sofas. Choose somewhere comfortable and tucked away to place their bed, but also ensure that they are not too far removed from the family as dogs will view this as a punishment. When choosing a bed for your dog it is important to consider the material, particularly if your dog (like Arya again) has sensitive skin that is easily irritated. Something that is machine washable is also preferable.
A lot of puppies – and, to an extent, older dogs – like to tear up their bedding when bored, so this is also something to consider beforehand when choosing something appropriate for your pooch!
Appropriate bedding is crucial for your dog’s comfort.
A crate can be a wonderful idea for your dog as it provides them with a safe space where they can retreat to during times of stress. It is important to crate train puppies from a young age in order for them to get used to the environment and so as they see it as a sanctuary instead of a punishment.
Crates are not always necessary, however. Before deciding whether or not to train to crate train your puppy, there are multiple advantages and disadvantages to consider.
- A safe sanctuary for your dog.
- Keeps them away from harmful substances.
- Can help some dogs with toilet training.
- Encourages the den instinct.
- Can limit their physical activity.
- Can cause emotional distress.
- Must be assembled correctly and used safely – do NOT leave a lead and collar on your dog whilst they are inside the crate.
Whilst it is true that your dog’s physical health is paramount, their mental well-being is just as important. In order to combat boredom, stress and anxiety, your dog must have plenty of toys to play with. especially when home alone, to ensure that they are mentally stimulated. Puzzle toys that contain treats are a great way of encouraging your dog to use their brain and can keep them distracted whilst their owner is out of the house.
Toys are a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated.
Myself and other dog owners with pooches prone to anxiety have found this product to be a wonderful addition to the household. Though admittedly not all dogs are in need of this, some canines who are easily stressed or finding settling into their new homes challenging will benefit from a plug-in diffuser that emits calming scents and pheromones that will relax your dog significantly.
Adaptil are great for their range of calming products, though I personally prefer this plug-in as it is herbal and slightly cheaper. The refills are sold separately and easy to install, plus each cartridge has adequate longevity. Calming sprays like this work with cats as well as dogs, perfect for households with multiple pets.
Gates And Pens
For some households, in order to ensure the safety of their dog owners much purchase baby gates and puppy pens to keep all of the pooches out of harm’s way. Puppy pens were particularly useful for two friends of mine, who found they needed a way to separate the puppies from their mother after a while to slowly wean them off of her milk following their dog giving birth.
If there are parts of the house that are not suitable for dogs, then fencing them off this way is a great way of ensuring your dog remains safe and your house remains intact.
Puppy pens can be useful for many dog owners.
Children often get head lice and dogs often get fleas. It is annoying, if unavoidable, part of having a dog that all owners must confront eventually. Ensuring your dog is flea-treated is crucial, but in order to have the most protection against fleas then make sure to spray your house regularly with anti-flea spray and always have a bottle at the ready. If your dog does get fleas then they will spread to the house, where they will be much more difficult to get rid of.
Pet First Aid Kit
Prevention is always better than the cure, though in some cases it is unavoidable. Accidents happen, after all. Dogs are animals that like to adventure and explore, and it is only natural that sometimes they might accidentally injure themselves. For anything major a trip to the vet is required, but for minor cuts and scrapes then a pet first aid kit is a wonderful idea and a great tool to keep in the house.
A pet first aid kit can come in handy.
Mats For Muddy Paws And Messy Eaters
If you have a garden then you probably know the woes of having your dog run in from outside to traipse muddy pawprints across clean ceramic flooring. My mother has two dogs and a very large, grassy garden which tends to become a swamp in torrential rain. Placing a mat by the back door can be a great way of minimising the damage, particularly if they are made from appropriate materials.
Additionally, it may be a useful idea to purchase a mat for feeding time. Lots of dogs are messy eaters and may even prefer picking up food from their bowl, dropping it onto the floor and then devouring it as opposed to the other, cleanlier method.
This is not applicable for owners with older and/or fully toilet trained dogs, but for those who are bringing home a puppy then training pads are a must. Toilet training can be a daunting task, but pads make the initial first few baby steps that much easier as they teach puppies from an early age that there is a designated place to use the bathroom.
Slowly move their toilet pads closer and closer to the backdoor gradually over time to ease them into using the bathroom outside. Ensure the pads are kept away from food-preparing areas in the interest of hygiene.