Freelance Contributor, Sally Diamond
In some ways, bringing home a new dog is a lot like having a baby; you need to hazard-proof your environment to minimize the risk that your puppy might fall into something that hurts it. In fact, one critical aspect of dog behavior and obedience training is making sure that your home is a safe space for a dog to frolic without running into something unexpected. A short list of essential home modifications can help ensure your dog and home are safe from destruction.
Watch (Where) You Eat
It’s very important that your dog cannot access foods that may hurt it, such as chocolate or citruses. One key step to dog-proofing your kitchen is to use child-proof latches to secure cabinets or pantries that your dog can access from the floor. Kitchen garbage cans are a popular place for dogs to rummage for food, so it may be a good idea to use recessed in-wall garbage cans or ones that require a foot pedal to operate. The same goes for countertops: don’t leave food unattended on low counters, because chances are, your dog will be inventive in trying to reach something that smells good.
Make Use of Elevated Surfaces
In general, anything valuable and potentially ingestible by a dog, such as medications or even paper money, should be place where a dog can reach it. If you have a puppy, you will want to move your shoes to a place where the dog cannot access them during the teething phrase (or alternatively, spray them with vinegar, which most dogs can’t stand). If your common houseplants are poisonous for pets, move them out of reach (including hanging plants, which can be reached by jumping through furniture).
Practice Good Fire Safety
The ASPCA identifies fire safety as an important concern for dog-owners, especially in the hours when pets are home alone as their owners are working or out. One important step is to never leave a candle lit unattended where your dog could access it and make sure all heating appliances are unplugged after leaving the house. Recessed, above-ground level fireplaces are also a safer choice for reducing the possibility that your dog could step into a lit fireplace.
In general, these modifications will help prevent accidents for all dogs, but are especially important for adventurous puppies and/or dogs new to your home. Jointly, common sense safety precautions and select home modifications will help make your dog a hazard-free part of the family.