Pet-proofing Your Home

By Julia Price

December 20, 2012 4 min read

You've heard the expression that dogs are a man's best friend. But just as it goes with any friendship, there's always a struggle as you move from the immediate connection to the really-getting-to-know-each-other phase. Puppies aren't any different, and if you want to avoid the frustration that comes with this "getting to know you" phase, there are some simple tips and precautions you can take in order to fully prepare for bringing this new jolt of adorable energy into your home.

*Pre-puppy Planning

Before you bring home your new puppy, put yourself in its shoes -- or paws, rather -- and imagine seeing the world through curious puppy eyes. What do you see first? Probably how your favorite pair of loafers looks tasty. With this in mind, make sure to start moving all of your shoes and other valuables to higher grounds, the garage or any other puppy-free zone. It's only natural for dogs to chew things apart, so that means your couch, pillows, rug and that sock you dropped while carrying your laundry from the dryer are all fair game.

Since it's a little more difficult to move furniture than your shoes, if you know there will be stretches of time when the puppy will be left unmonitored, create a puppy-friendly room you can leave your friend in without having to worry that your house will be destroyed by the time you get back. You can do this by installing child safety gates to prevent your new little buddy from going to town on your furniture.

Your best bet is to stake out this area in a carpet-free room so that accident cleanups are simple. And remember to keep garbage cans out of eyesight and accessibility, and to lock cabinets or keep any picture frames far away from your little guy's tail line. Since puppies tend to get easily excited and happy, their tail can quickly become the enemy. The more worked up they get, the harder it wags, knocking all things in its path to the ground. So keep that in mind before you put that lovely framed family photo on the coffee table for display.

If you have plants, you might want to get rid of them altogether -- because you can imagine how dedicated your puppy will be when it comes to digging through a pot of soil. And make sure to hide all wires, boxes of tissues, makeup and medications, and that loaf of bread that sits on your counter.

*Welcoming the Puppy Home

The earlier you can accept that accidents are going to happen, the better. Your puppy is most likely untrained, but even if you're lucky enough to get a puppy that is housebroken, being in a new environment can get the nerves going during this adjustment period. When the inevitable happens, don't hit your dog, yell or rub its nose into the mess, especially if you weren't around to witness the accident in person. Check out for training tips.

Clean up accidents using paper towels and tossing the waste into a plastic bag, tying it and throwing it directly into an outdoor trash bin. If this happens on a wood or kitchen floor, use a disinfecting spray to eliminate bacteria and odor. There are even puppy-specific cleanup products, such as "Dog Whisperer: Natural Odor and Stain Remover," by Cesar Milan, that you can find at any nearby pet store. If the accident is on the carpet, make sure to first dab the mess with club soda before applying any cleaners.

*Keep in Mind

New puppies are a lot of work -- almost as much work as newborn babies. But remind yourself that your pup won't be a puppy forever, and you've just gained a loyal family member who will defend you, make you smile consistently and share many memories with you and your family along the way. So enjoy the puppy phase, because it passes much too quickly. It's not the accidents you'll remember, but the feeling of unconditional love your puppy shows you every time you walk through the door.

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