How to Puppy Proof Your House

Puppy Proofing Your House

Last night I was at a Mom’s Night Out event and was chatting with a friend, Julie, about her new puppy.

She had adopted a little poodle mix in September and was telling me all about her puppy’s daily antics and challenges.

Julie said one of the biggest challenges in puppy training was when the kids were “watching” the puppy.

She said that her teens had about the same attention span as the pup, which resulted in the puppy wandering off find to find its own form of entertainment.

Also, she said that kids aren’t great about picking up after themselves, so several shoes, clothing, and a backpack have all suffered the wrath of a teething puppy.

How can you save your house from a puppy’s wrath?

Puppy Proofing Your Home

Puppy proofing your house before the arrival of your puppy is vital to both your puppy’s safety and your sanity.

Puppies explore their surroundings using all of their senses, sight, smell, taste, and feel. Puppies often pick up anything they see on the floor or ground.

Puppies don’t always chew on or pick up items with the sole intent of eating them.How to puppy proof your home with dog gates fences play pen

Much of the time, they are figuring out if that item is edible, chewable, or something of no real interest.

Other puppies like Daisy will also explore by pushing things with their noses.

Daisy would smell something and then give the item a nudge with her nose before she decided to put said item in her mouth.

So, when considering how to best puppy proof your house, you need to consider, from a puppy’s level, what they may chew on, nose, or try and eat.

And when I say see things from their level, I mean get down on their level and see what might look appealing to a puppy.

Also, remember puppies can explore standing on their hind legs, so keep things way up out of their reach.

Additionally, when puppy-proofing your home consider using gates to help keep puppies confined to smaller areas of your home.

Using gates will do two things; first, it will help with housetraining, and second, it will make it easier to supervise your puppy’s activities.

Dangerous Items Puppies Chew On

Cords

How to keep cords cables safe from inquisitive puppy mouth chewingCords pose a significant danger for puppies.

They are often appealing because they are at the puppy’s level and usually hidden behind or under furniture.

The apparent threat for a puppy chewing on a cord is electrocution, but additionally, wires can be a choking hazard as well.

Easy ways to keep cords from being chewed on are:

  • Covering the cables with rugs
  • Taping the cords down
  • Attaching a cord channel over the cord to keep it protected and hidden

Product Recommendations

Chew Deterrent SpraysChew deterrent sprays stop puppy from eating cords shoes furniture

Sprays can be used to deter dogs from chewing cords and other objects.

The drawback of using a spray is that it evaporates and requires consistent reapplication.

Product Recommendations

Garbage and Recycle Bins

Dogs of all ages love getting into the trash, and why not?

I am sure it smells like a buffet of goodness, at least to them.

Not only is it a huge unwanted mess to clean up, but there are dangers in the garbage that can cause serious harm to your puppy. Things like:

  • Bones
  • Cans
  • Poisonous foods (A list can be found below)
  • Fatty foods (which can cause pancreatitis)

How to keep puppy out of garbage can

Because of my 29 pounds of Awesome, also known as Sophie, we have our garbage attached to the wall in four points (see image).

We previously only attached it at the top of the can but she literally ripped off the wall.

I’m not saying that you need to bolt your can to the wall like us.

Usually, a covered receptacle or one tucked behind a cupboard works just fine.

Common Hazardous or Toxic Household Items

House Plants

Several common house plants are considered safe for humans but are poisonous to our canine companions[1].

Puppy proof house hazardous toxic house plants list dieffenbachiaSome of these plants include:

  • Aloe
  • Emerald Feather
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Amaryllis
  • Ribbon Plant
  • Arrowhead vine
  • Dieffenbachia

For a full list of plants, both indoor and outdoor, check out the ASPCA website.

If you have any of these plants in your home, you will want to move them out of your puppy’s reach.

Also, even if a plant is safe for your puppy, be aware that they may see the planter as something fun to dig in. Daisy enjoyed digging, regardless if it was outside in the yard or a potted plant.

Trust me, it’s a huge mess you will want to avoid.

Air Fresheners

The majority of pet parents like using products listed as organic or natural; however, those two words do not equate to safe.

Are air fresheners safe for puppies volatile organic compounds poison danger

There are pet safe air fresheners, though

Most commercial air fresheners, including ones containing my beloved essential oils, often contain volatile organic compounds[2] (VOC).

Products that fall under the VOC heading are deemed hazardous or toxic according to US Federal law.

Air fresheners cause two potential dangers:

First, if your dog breathes in VOCs from air fresheners, it can cause significant respiratory issues.

And, second, if your puppy consumes the air freshener, it can cause severe GI upset, tremors, weakness, and unsteadiness.

By simply walking through a room air freshener has been used, a dog can pick it up on the bottoms of their feet.

Ingestion can happen just from your puppy licking their paws or fur after it comes in contact with the air freshener.

Remember that puppies are more sensitive than full-grown dogs, so please don’t assume that since your adult dog has not had any issues that it is equally safe for your puppy.

Cleaning Supplies

Are cleaning supplies safe for puppies natural organic cleaner degreaserWe may not always think about cleaning supplies because they are behind a cupboard door.

But dogs, especially bored puppies, can be tenacious and curious, which isn’t the best combination.

Additionally, if your puppy is hanging out with you while you clean, simply inhaling the fumes can cause harm to their respiratory system or cause skin irritations.

Also, like air fresheners, if a dog walks over or lays on surfaces that have been in contact with some of these chemicals, it can cause toxicity issues.

Common Chemicals Harmful to Dogs

  • Window Cleaner
  • Ammonia
  • Drain Cleaner
  • Products Containing VOCs
  • Products Containing Bleach
  • Oven Cleaner

Human Food

Many dog parents are familiar with some of the more common foods toxic to dogs, but if you are a new dog parent, you may not know that some of our favorite foods are not safe to share with your pooch.

Common Toxic FoodsCommon toxic foods list harm puppies onions garlic xylitol

  • Chocolate – The darker it is, the more toxic it is
  • Grapes and Raisins
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine – Coffee, energy drinks, etc.
  • Xylitol – This is commonly found in gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and sugar-free foods[3]
  • Onions and Garlic

For a full list of foods not safe for your pup check out the ASPCA’s website.

Medications

As stated by the Pet Poison Hotline, 50% of the calls that come in are due to dog’s ingesting human medications.

Both prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs can be toxic to dogs.

Can puppies open medicine bottles unsafe drugs for dog

Puppies can chew right through child-proof caps!

Common medications that are harmful to dogs are:

  • Ibuprofen – Example: Advil or Naproxen
  • Acetaminophen – Example: Tylenol
  • Anti-Depressants
  • Blood Pressure Medications
  • ADD/ADHD Medications
  • Sleep Aids – Both OTC and Prescription
  • Thyroid Medications
  • Vitamins

If your dog consumes any medications not intended for them, you should call the Animal Poison Control Center at (855) 764-7661.

Harmful Products Found in the Garage or Shed

There is a multitude of products found in garages and sheds that are incredibly toxic to dogs.

  • Antifreeze – Antifreeze is said to have a sweet flavor that is very appealing to dogs. Even the smallest spills or drips of antifreeze can cause significant harm to your dog[5].
  • Weed and Pest Control Products – Though no one loves weeds, rodents, or insects invading their home or yard, these products pose a serious danger to your dog’s health. Keep in mind that many rodent control products use things like nut butter to entice the rodents to eat the poison. Many pups will find these equally appealing.
  • Paint and Varnish – Paint and varnishes are not only toxic when consumed, but the fumes can be hazardous to your dog’s health as well.

Fun Items to Chew on that Make Mom and Dad Upset

Not everything your dog is going to chew is harmful to their health, but that doesn’t mean we want them to chew on it.

Below are some common household items puppies enjoy gnawing on but pet parents would prefer they didn’t.

Furniture

What do puppies chew on everything cords furniture garbage cans plants

Some puppies enjoy chewing on furniture, especially teething puppies.

Puppies enjoy chewing on harder objects to relieve the discomfort of teething.

If you find your puppy gnawing on your favorite piece of furniture you can:

  • Redirect them to an appropriate dog chew such as a teething bone or invite them to a game of puppy play.
  • Use a deterrent spray on the furniture your dog is attracted to. Be sure to test it in on a small area first to ensure that it won’t ruin your furniture.

Understand that to a puppy, furniture is no different to them than any other object. So, in the beginning, they will not decipher between appropriate and inappropriate chew items.

This is all part of puppy training.

If you have enrolled your puppy into a puppy class, they will likely be teaching you and your dog the “off” command, which will significantly help in saving your furniture.

Floor Lamps

How to puppy proof house furniture lamps vase flower pot stop dogs knock over stuff

Must have been a large puppy
Photo by John Bracken (CC BY 2.0)

Daisy tipped over a floor lamp when she was a puppy and it scared both of us!

Thankfully, that scare was enough to keep her from nosing the lamp again.

We were fortunate that the lamp didn’t break on impact, but if it had, it would have been a massive mess of dangers glass.

To prevent your puppy from tipping a floor lamp, you will want to create a barrier so your puppy doesn’t have access to it.

Remote Controls

(Both for the Entertainment Center or Gaming Center)

Remotes are covered with our scent, making them a popular item dogs enjoy chewing.

In addition to needing to replace a chewed remote, there are a few possible dangers for your puppy.

The dangers of chewing on remotes are:

  • Cutting themselves on shards of plastic
  • Consuming parts or all of the remote
  • Chewing on or eating the batteries

So, keep those remotes up and out of your puppy’s reach.

Anything with Your Scent

Dogs love us, and when we are not around or available to play, dogs will seek out items that smell like their favorite humans.

You might be thinking, “Aww, how sweet?” but though it is sweet, it is also infuriating and sometimes dangerous to your dog.

Common Personal Items Dogs Love to ChewWhy do puppies chew on shoes clothes glasses objects with your scent

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Eye Glasses
  • Retainers
  • Hair Brushes
  • Cosmetics
  • Wallets

All of these items can cause choking hazards, but not all dogs eat what they chew on.

And you may be wondering if they love us so dang much why would they destroy the things that remind them of us?

It’s because chewing is a natural behavior and not seen as a negative thing.

I have a basket full of toys that look like they escaped misfit island because they’re missing various appendages, but I don’t chuck them because they are often my dog’s favorite toys.

The only way to prevent this is to put your stuff away in an area that is not accessible to your puppy.

Final Thoughts

When I was working as a dog trainer parents would come in and tell me about all the things their puppy chewed on like their cell phone, shoes, etc.

I always asked them, “Where was this object, and where were you?”

More often than not, my question was answered with an embarrassed silence.Why do puppies chew on everything natural behavior training tips

It was not my intent to shame or embarrass the puppy parent, but instead to get them to think about who was truly at fault.

I know it can be quite emotional when you see the library book you checked out torn to pieces, but I guess I shouldn’t have left it at Daisy’s level before hopping in the shower.

We are all guilty of it, but we all need to remember who the parent is and who the puppy is.

It is called puppy training for a reason because they are puppies and don’t know any better

Remember, in the canine world, pretty much everything to a puppy is fair game to chew on, it’s only the human’s rules that make it taboo.

I know that this list feels overwhelming, but trust me, you will thank me later when you don’t have to replace your home furnishings, and you aren’t making a monthly visit to the emergency vet.

Your puppy loves you and doesn’t do things to get revenge or upset you; all they want is your love and attention.

Resources

  1. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants
  2. https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/air-fresheners-and-pets
  3. https://www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/poisoning-toxicity/6-dangerous-and-surprising-items-contain-xylitol?page=3
  4. https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-owners/basics/top-10-human-medications-poisonous-to-pets/
  5. https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/antifreeze-poisoning-in-dogs/
About the author

Jessica Mabie

Jessica and her husband share their lives with four amazing high energy Brittanys and one very awesome cat. You’ll rarely see her without her 4 pack, they go everywhere with her, including most vacations. So, if you see her out and about with her family don’t hesitate to say “Hi!”, (You’ll know it’s her since few are so daring as to have 4 Britts).