The holiday season brings a time for increased adoption rate of puppies. This means it’s time to plan for when you bring your new bundle of furry love home! Setting your puppy and yourself up for success is the sure way to start out on the right paw. This will not only help during the initial stages of puppy-hood, but will set the stage for your lifetime together.
As a certified professional dog trainer, these are a few of my top tips for puppy and dog proofing one’s home:
Ensuring your pet’s safety in and around the house and yard:
- Make sure yard enclosures are secure and safe. Including fences and gates. Also look for areas that might be prone to digging or jumping up and over for escape – Remember, if dogs become bored, and find more entertaining options outside your yard, he or she will figure out a way to get to them!
- Make sure others that come onto the property are aware there is a dog on the premises and they take the same measures of keeping gates closed – “Beware of Dog” and other visible signs are important to let others know you have a pet on the property.
- If one has a pool, provide fencing around pool or dog away from water until he or she is old enough to swim (if it’s appropriate for that specific dog) and has learned how to swim and get out of a pool. (Dogs need to learn this skill).
- Make sure plants, flowers and foliage in yard are dog friendly. This includes things like leaves, berries and flowers that fall from trees.
- If there are plants that attract bees, be aware that many dogs like to ‘hunt’ bees and can get stung. (Just ask Poncho – just one trip to the vet and we were replacing Mexican sage and lavender with ferns).
Protecting your home from a pet’s ‘accidents’, chewing , and other obstacles associated with new pet ownership:
- Manage your home: When one is not training, MANAGE! This means: close doors to rooms dogs (and other pets) aren’t allowed. Remember, if it’s within reach and appears interesting it WILL be investigated!
- Manage your pet: Keep a watchful eye on all pets, especially new ones coming into the home! House-training often needs to be taught whenever an animal goes to a new home. Create a designated area to help manage the animals environment until he or she has adapted well and boundaries are established.
- Provide enrichment: Mental and physical activities are key to helping animals maintain a fulfilling environment! If he or she is enjoying life with options he or she is provided, he or she won’t spend time making up their own activities – like digging up flower beds, jumping fences or dumpster diving in the kitchen. This means provide CHEW items that the puppy enjoys chewing, not what owners think he or she should like, interactive food toys to provide meals, and an area to dig and play that’s within the confines of your own property.
- Take the time to teach and train your dog behaviors that will help establish and maintain boundaries – The following are just a few I teach my clients and their dogs in my dog training classes and private dog training sessions:
- “Go to Your Place” teaches him or her to settle on a bed or mat (or crate). If your dog is spending time and comfy in one specific designated area, then he or she is not off wandering around finding other things to do (or chew, or pee on etc.)
- Sit/Down/Stay: For when doors are being opened to the great outdoors, or into forbidden rooms. (These are the main behaviors I teach in my Setting You up For Dog Training Success eBook!)
- “Leave it!” Leave things alone…especially the 22 pound roast turkey sitting on the counter, a little too close to the edge.
- Coming when called: For when door dashing is a bigger motivator!
- Socialize your puppy: Training is very important, but exposing your puppy to new people, sights, sounds, smells, situations and environmental changes are optimal for raising a healthy and happy pet. Well structured puppy socials, “pass the puppy” with friends and family in your own home (or in homes of your friends and family), meeting dogs who are healthy and up-to-date on his or her vaccinations are all great ways to begin socializing your new pup to his or her surroundings.
Finally, when it comes to adopting an animal of any species, remember it’s important to be aware of the type of animal you’re bringing into your household. Understanding the behaviors of that animal, especially species specific traits, will help you develop realistic expectations, setting everyone up for success with your new relationship.