Tuesday, December 8, 2009
By Ruthie Bently
Before you adopt a puppy or an adult dog, it’s a good idea to evaluate what you need to do to dog proof your home, i.e., to make it safe for your new friend. It’s easy to see why you should “puppy proof” your home, but why do it for an adult dog? An older dog needs the same consideration as a puppy because you may not know the situation the dog came from. If they were primarily an outdoor dog or lived in a kennel, there are many things your new dog may not have encountered before, which may seem like wonderful new toys to them.
So where do you start? Make a list of rooms to check, which should include all those you spend time in, as well as closets, storage rooms and the garage. Next, go room to room and evaluate the dangers or temptations your new dog may encounter. If you know the size of your new companion, getting down to their level to evaluate the room is a good way to find potential temptations. You will find more things by looking at the room from your dog’s eye view than you might by looking at it from your regular height.
In the living room, look for any exposed electrical cords the dog could trip over or chew on. Other items of interest include television remotes, cell phones and computer mice. Any item that contains batteries can be harmful if your dog decides to make it their new chew toy. Check desktops and tables the dog may be able to get to, and move all items that could be dangerous out of the dog’s reach. Window blind and curtain cords can be a strangulation danger for a pet. Check that they are at least 30” off the floor; if they aren’t you can purchase cord shorteners. You may want to move your knick knacks to a higher place, as a dog with a longer tail can empty a tabletop with just a few sweeps of their tail and won’t understand why your face is turning color when they are just happy you are home.
Your new dog will probably be spending time in the kitchen, so remove any temptations here too. Make sure your garbage is behind a door, has a tight fitting lid or is above the level your dog can reach. If you use recycling bins you will want to keep them out of the dog’s way; dogs can cut themselves investigating any cans or broken glass they might find. All cleaning supplies should be stored out of the dog’s reach. If you store your dish detergent and cleaning supplies under the sink, you can purchase cabinet latches that are not only kid proof, but dog proof too.
In the bathroom, move all soaps, toilet bowl cleaners and deodorizers to a safe location, since some dogs are attracted by the scents of these items. I actually had my bathroom and living room “toilet papered” by a dog that loved to play with toilet paper. He’d pull it all off the roll and go racing around the house with it flowing behind him. You can thwart this by getting a toilet paper guard, or hanging the dispenser up high. In the laundry room, install a shelf behind the laundry center for your supplies. You could also dedicate a shelf in your pantry to all the chemical cleaners, deodorizers and cleaning tools.
If you have children, get them a toy chest and keep it in their bedroom. The dog may be attracted to their toys and the small pieces can be dangerous for them. This will also keep your dog from chewing up your child’s stuffed animals and Barbie dolls.
The last room to dog proof is the garage. Although your dog may not spend time in the garage, some of the most dangerous things for them are found here. Anti-freeze is a well known pet hazard, but gasoline, paint, oil, brake and transmission fluids can be dangerous too.
Outlet plugs are a good idea for any unused electrical outlets around the house. A dog that isn’t housebroken may lift his leg on a wall plug; this inexpensive item can save you from a power outage or something more serious. The previously mentioned cabinet latches are also good for keeping dogs out of lower cabinets that may contain pots, pans and cleaning chemicals.
My friend used to store her two-liter bottles of soda in a floor height cabinet without a latch, until her dog got into it and grabbed a full soda bottle to play with. The pop bottle survived the bounce out of the cabinet, but didn’t survive the subsequent playtime with toenails and teeth. While this was more of a messy situation than a dangerous situation, it shows why dog proofing your house is a good idea.
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently