Getting a new puppy is certainly an exciting time. And while puppies and cute and lovable, they can also be a real handful. My next few blogs will cover things you need to do to make this transition a healthy and happy for both you and your puppy.
This blog will talk about Puppy proofing the house. Puppy proofing your house means that you go through the house, room by room, and remove or secure anything you don’t want your new puppy chewing on. This includes exposed wires and cords, your children’s toys, dirty (or clean) laundry, furniture, shoes, baseboards, and anything else within your puppy’s reach that you do not want destroyed. It is useful to remember that puppies don’t have hands so they explore and play with their mouths. These mouths contain very sharp little teeth that bring pain when applies to hands and feet. At around 4 months they will begin losing these teeth and replacing them with adult teeth that are not nearly as sharp. Puppies recognize everything within their reach as objects to chew, and this includes human hands and feet. Unlike us, puppies have no concept of furniture, carpets, or window curtains. If they can reach it, they will explore it, usually tearing it to pieces in the process. Please keep this in mind when you walk into a room where your puppy has just destroyed something you value. In the first year, what your puppy has access to is your responsibility, not theirs.
One way to lessen the destruction and keep your puppy’s teeth occupied is to have plenty of chew toys present. Teach your puppy to bite, chew, and play with these toys, and use them for play with your puppy. You should include in this toy selection a rope tug toy, something that can be worked on like a rubber toy, and possibly a toy that squeaks. Keep these readily available and use them to distract your puppy from biting things they should not.
Wires and cords can be bundled, covered, and secured to the wall, while other objects like toys and laundry can be kept off the floor and placed out of reach. If you have young children, you might consider keeping their bedroom door shut to keep puppy raids to a minimum.
But what do you do with things like furniture, carpets, and base boards? First, you understand that keeping these things safe from curious puppies is your responsibility and not theirs. This means that you have to watch your puppy whenever they are awake. But, of course, you can’t do that all the time. The next best thing is to keep your puppy contained whenever you are not free to watch their every movement. Some people use gates to cordon off a room in which the puppy can be kept “out of trouble.” The problem with this approach is that bored and frustrated puppies have been known to chew Formica right off the floor and baseboards from the walls. This makes cordoned off rooms like kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms something other than perfect solutions.
Crate training is another option. Crate training is not the same as imprisoning you puppy. The truth is that puppies like small quiet areas for resting and sleeping. The key to crate training is teaching you puppy to value crate time. For more on this, stay tuned for the next blog post.