Puppy Checklist: Pet Proofing Your Home

puppy checklist

Bringing home a new puppy is always exciting. But you also learn very quickly that the home needs to be puppy-proofed in order to ensure that the energetic puppy doesn’t accidentally cause damage to furniture, walls, floors, and personal belongings. Plus, a new home can also present your puppy with hazards. Luckily, by following this guide to pet-proofing your home, you’ll find that there is plenty you can do to ensure that your puppy adapts to the home without causing harm to the house or itself.

What to Expect From Your New Puppy

The first thing you’ll notice about your new puppy is that it is a bouncing ball of endless energy. The second thing you’ll probably notice is that it is especially curious and wants to see where and what everything in the house and yard is. These characteristics can lead your puppy to get into a lot of trouble!

It’s a good idea to have a supply of important items and equipment on hand before you bring your new puppy home so that you are already prepared. Some of the items you will want to definitely consider include:

  • Baby gates to block off areas you don’t want the puppy to access
  • A dog crate to keep the puppy in at night or during certain periods of time
  • A puppy bed
  • A puppy collar and leash
  • Plenty of toys, including chew toys

Pet Proofing Your Home Before Bringing the Puppy Home

There’s also plenty of things you’ll want to do to prepare your house before you bring home your new furry addition to the family.

Move all garbage cans out of reach, or purchase garbage cans with lids that can’t be easily opened, even if they are knocked over.

Put away all clothing and footwear in a closet and make sure the closet doors stay closed. Puppies like to chew on almost anything they find, and an open closet presents way too many opportunities!

Keep counters as clear as possible. Young puppies can be pretty resourceful and may find a way to get onto a counter when you aren’t looking. Items such as medication bottles, plastic containers, cleaning supplies and other household toxins, keys, candles, and anything else you might normally have on a counter that could be a choking hazard should be put away.

It’s also recommended that anything valuable or breakable be put away for a time while the puppy gets used to the house. You certainly don’t want any of your antique vases, nice picture frames, ceramic curios and other decorative items to be accidentally broken by an excited puppy bouncing around the house.

Keep toilet lids down at all times. Keep an eye on bathtubs that are full to make sure the puppy doesn’t jump in.

Try not to have electrical cords in easy reach of your puppy. You might also consider purchasing electrical cord covers.

You’ll definitely want to keep electronic devices away from puppies. It’s pretty common for families today to have mobile phones, laptops and pads lying around the house, along with charging cords and earbuds. These are all prime chewing items for a curious puppy!

Keep curtains, blinds, and curtain cords raised high above the puppy’s reach. Many a pair of unsuspecting blinds have felt the unintended consequences of a puppy’s playful nature!

If you have any furniture with sharp edges, you can purchase items at home improvement stores to soften corners and edges. 

If you want to allow the puppy on the couch abuts are worried about potential damage, you can purchase dog proof couch covers. 

It may seem like a lot, but it is definitely a necessity to do all of the above. After your puppy has been introduced to the home and begins to get used to it, and after the puppy has received proper training about where it can go in the house, you’ll be able to eliminate some of these pet proofing checklist items.

If you can eventually train your puppy to know that it can’t go on counters or on the furniture, etc., it will be much easier to allow the puppy to roam about the house without worrying too much.

Note: You’ll want to be extra vigilant with pet-proofing the house during the holidays when lots of decorations might be out. Holiday decorations often contain lots of things that can be a hazard for puppies, like small pieces of plastic, glitter, and even sharp pieces of metal. You might have to tone down the decorations the first year until the puppy has been properly trained.

Removing Toxic Plants for Pet Proofing

Before bringing your puppy home, consider what plants you might have in the house and in the yard. Several varieties of houseplants and garden plants are toxic to dogs, and especially young puppies, so you’ll definitely want to remove them as part of the pet-proofing process.

Indoor houseplants toxic to puppies include:

  • Ferns
  • Ivy
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Calla Lily
  • Azalea

If you have any of these common outdoor plants in your yard and can’t remove them, try to block them off from access with some type of gate, fencing, or wire so that the puppy can’t accidentally chew on them.

  • Black Eyed Susan
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Calla Lily
  • Lantana
  • Daffodil
  • Oleander
  • Amaryllis
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Honeysuckle
  • Jade Plant
  • Peony
  • Morning Glory
  • Bluebonnet
  • Easter Lily
  • Rhododendron
  • Marigolds
  • Daisies
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Foxglove
  • Ferns
  • Yucca
  • Hyacinth
  • Tomato Plants
  • Catnip
  • Garlic
  • Mustard Greens
  • Potato Plants
  • Spinach
  • Pokeweed

Pet Proofing the Yard

Puppy proofing the yard is also important because a yard can present a wealth of hazards for a young curious puppy. And because you will likely spend a lot of time in the yard with the puppy, you’ll want to make it as safe a space as possible.

Once again, until the puppy has been properly trained, you’ll want to limit access to certain areas. You may consider purchasing temporary fencing to keep the puppy enclosed in a specific area of the yard, or a lead that only stretches so far.

Keep sheds and garages closed off when the puppy is out.

Keep all garden supplies and tools safely put away where the puppy cannot get access. This includes rakes and shovels, insecticides, fertilizer, oil and gas cans, garden tools, paint, bags of garden soil or mulch, etc.

Keep compost piles blocked off – compost contains bacteria that can be harmful to puppies.

If you have a pool, it is very important to have it enclosed with a barrier that your puppy definitely can’t get through or somehow jump or climb over.

Eventually, you may also want to invest in a dog-proof fence for the whole yard, or one of those “invisible” fences, so that the dog can enjoy being out in the yard but cannot wander off past the perimeter.

Introducing Your Puppy as Part of Pet Proofing Your Home

A big part of pet proofing your home is properly introducing the puppy to the home and yard. Repetition is part of the training as the puppy adjusts to these new areas. You will need to be patient and may even have to scold the puppy, but eventually it will learn exactly where it is and isn’t allowed to go.

When you first bring your puppy home, bring the dog around from room to room, and show him where the water and food bowls are. Also show the puppy it’s crate, and a potty training area if you have one set up. A good idea is to have newspaper or wee pads by the back door – this will eventually teach your puppy to go to the door when it needs to go out.

Allow the puppy to explore one area of the home at a time while supervised. If your puppy does something you don’t want it to do, such as start chewing on curtains or attempting to jump on a counter, scold it lightly. The entire family must be prepared to do this or the puppy will be confused.

Pet Proofing For a Puppy When You Have a Cat

Cats and dogs can get along most of the time when introduced into the home together. But if you are bringing home a new puppy to a house that already has a cat, you might experience a few territorial sparring matches.

For starters, it is important that the puppy stays away from the kitty litter box. Not only will the cat be annoyed if the puppy is sniffing around it, but cat litter is also toxic to dogs. It’s a good idea to keep the room with the kitty litter off-limits to the puppy.

You’ll also want to watch that the dog doesn’t attempt to eat the cat’s food. Again, you’ll have a very unhappy cat!

Pet Proofing is Worth It

Yes, it seems like a lot of hard, time-consuming work, and a new puppy will certainly test your patience at times. But pet-proofing properly is definitely worth it. It’s important for the safety and health of the puppy, and after a while, you won’t need to keep such a watchful eye on your new canine companion. Instead, you’ll be more able to enjoy all of the happy puppy moments together!

And, one of the benefits of doing all this work for pet-proofing the house is that it also helps you get organized! You’ll have items put away in drawers, clothes and shoes put away in closets, and all your clutter and knick-knacks will be properly stored and sorted!

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