So you decided to take the plunge?
Bringing home a new bundle of furry four-legged joy with limited ability to control his post-meal deposits and needle sharp shoe recyclers can be exciting, but are you really prepared? I mean, REALLY prepared?? Puppies are like new born babies. They require a ton of work, constant attention and endless patience. Good thing everyone is cute, right?? 2 am feedings and diaper changes or potty trips to the yard, both will make you lose sleep! Put in the work now and your pup can start to learn to be the wonderful family member that you have envisioned.
Once you know you are bringing home your bundle of joy, preparation starts right then, before he is even home.
- If you don’t already have one, find a good local AAHA certified veterinarian. Ask a friend for recommendations. Call and visit your local clinics.
- Next, enroll in puppy kindergarten so he can get the socialization that is vital at this young age.
- I highly recommend crate training your pup but that is another article, so take the time to find some information on this training technique.
- Now stop, and look around your house. What kind of mischief can a little puppy get into? Probably much more than you know. Take a moment, put down this article and get down on your hands and knees to crawl around your house to get an idea as to what your puppy may see from their level. No seriously….DO IT!
Now let’s do a quick look at the different points of view:
Your point of view, a few possible areas of concern, right?
From a smaller puppy’s point of view. See any concerns?
From a larger puppy’s point of view...A few more concerns here as well.
Did you find the major concerns? I say major because they are the more typically chewed items and possibly more dangerous ones.
Shoes and socks are typical items to be chewed. Unfortunately, more than holy socks and destroyed tennis shoes can result. Some pups will take it to the next level and eat the socks and bits they chew off, which can result in stomach issues that may require surgery.
Purses and bags can be a source of many issues. It is not just a potential chew toy, the contents are often a source of many vet visits. Chocolate, medications and sugarless candies are all major areas of concern and require an immediate vet visit. Do not assume that because your pup “seems” okay, that he is. Go to the vet!
Electrical cords- Sharp puppy teeth get through these very quickly leading to electrocution and possibly death. Unplug and put away or make them out of reach. If your pup does chew on one and gets a shock, this is another trip to the vet, even if he seems okay. This is an area where the after effects of the injury are often not immediately visible and when they do become apparent, it can be too late.
A couple of chewable favorites here: Books and remote controls. Chewed books are not much more than an annoyance to whomever they belong to. Remotes smell like you, just like socks and shoes, and are often a target of chewing. The concern here, other than not being able to change the channel, is the ingestion of electrical components and batteries. Batteries and stomach acid do not mix and therefore, off to the vet you should go if Fido has decided to enhance his diet with a bit of AAAs.
Back? Good! Hopefully you have a better appreciation for the things your puppy can get into. It only takes a moment, a glance away while you check dinner on the stove, and he’s chewing that power cord like it is the best beef bone ever.
Set your puppy up for success by considering implementing the following:
- Schedule time off from work if at all possible. I recommend a week if you can. These first few days together are important to help establish your bond and routine. Do not, however, spend 24/7 with your pup. After a couple days, put him in his crate, and leave the house for a short while. Keep that up every day until you go back to work, extending the time period you are gone. Keep in mind, puppies can typically “hold it” for 1 hour for every month of age on average. So, a 2 month old pup can hold it for 2 hours and a 6 month old for 6 hours. There are many pet sitting services that can come by your house for walks and even just potty breaks, so keep that in mind in the event that you cannot be home at the needed intervals. This will help down the road as well because when you go on vacation, you will already have a trusted friend to take care of Fido if he is not included..
- Crate training. This will help with the potty training immensely and allow for you to put him in a safe place when you cannot keep an eye on him.
- Consider getting baby gates to keep your furry friend contained to one area of the house. You can also get an exercise pen that will do the same thing. Consider having these containment areas on a linoleum or tile floor so that accidents are more easily cleaned up.
- Shoes, purses, belts, wallets and anything not fastened down and even possibly chewable- put it away. If it is small enough to get their mouth on, or chew part of, put it out of reach. Higher up if you have a large breed pup. We have a 111lb dog who still likes to chew rocks. These can be choking hazards as well as possibly leading to an intestinal blockage which can equal a BIG vet bill. All small items are fair game. The same dog above pulled porcelain figurines down and carried them around in her mouth till we put those away as well. If it is something you would put away if you had a toddler in your house, put it away till your pup is older.
- Electrical cords. Seriously, they just do not know better and it will result in a very large vet bill or even death. Unplug them or find a way to cover them. PVC pipe and aquarium tubing can help.
- Electrical Outlets: Put outlet covers on all open outlets, the same as you would if you if little Jimmy was crawling around the house. Little fingers and puppy tongues do not mix with electric outlets.
- Books and magazines—Very yummy. Put those out of reach as well, especially the family photo albums. We have several dog training books that have the mark of the pup on them because we left them out. Lesson learned!
- Look at the cords for your blinds. Are they long? Could your pooch get tangled in them and choke? Consider shortening and cutting them apart so they are not a loop that can catch a pooch by the neck.
- Trash can. Source of irresistible smells, heavenly treats and forbidden booty as well as trips to the vet for any number of reasons. Get a kitchen trash can that has a locking lid or consider a can that fits under the sink, in a cupboard or the pantry with a door that closes firmly. Bathroom trash cans-put the up on the back of the toilet. Better to explain that to your guests than to take your dog to the vet because he ate a tampon. Trust me-I have seen it happen, several times. Swallowed whole….yuck!!
- Sweaty Clothes-Some common items that pups will chew on are dirty socks, dirty underwear and sweaty bras. Some pups chew, other prefer to swallow them whole. If they do swallow them whole, take your dog to the vet immediately. Do not pass go. Do not stop and eat dinner first. There is a limited amount of time for the vet to be able to make them throw it up, which is MUCH less expensive than the alternate “Wait and pray it does not cause a blockage" method.
- Have plenty of puppy toys around so he has numerous acceptable and fun dog things around. In the event that your super puppy proofing skills have missed something and he is trying to give your new expensive shoes a bit more aeration, say “NO!” firmly, and offer him one of his toys. When he takes the toy, tell him what a good boy he is in your happy praise voice. This is called redirection and it is your friend when training puppies and dogs. I am a firm believer in telling dogs what you DO want when you tell him what you don’t.
- Constant control-Depending on what you are comfortable with, it can also be a good idea to have a short leash on him when he is following you around the house. This allows a bit more freedom but still give you an ability to grab him easily if something comes up and you need to redirect.
- Back to the crate training – I recommend having one in your bedroom so he can tell you when he needs to go out and go potty. In addition, dogs are pack animals, they want to be with their family. Don’t think that just because you think that they should be sleeping when you are, that they will be. You will have a few nights of whining possibly as he adjust to new home and routines. Push through the whining by being patient, telling him no when he does whine, but you know he does not need to potty, and good boy when he settles down.
- A note on holidays—Be very careful of the decorations and gifts. People often let down their guard and the pup ends up eating a bag of Halloween candy, the chocolate Easter bunny, the tasty Thanksgiving turkey and once there was even a lab that “ate the whole Christmas tree” according to his owner. It wasn’t really the whole tree but a good portion of items from it as it turns out. So put on your puppy proofing hat and double check things during the holidays. If your dog develops a propensity to chew or counter surf, as some do, no matter how hard you may try, then puppy proofing may be a lifetime chore.
What do you do when you find an accident or something chewed up? Get a newspaper, roll it up, and smack yourself for letting your puppy out of sight. The only good quiet puppy is one that you can see or is that is asleep. Everything else is suspect.
These guidelines will hopefully help you start your puppy off right, save your home and sanity and keep everyone safe and healthy.
Shawna Stone, CVT