Puppy Proofing Your Home and Yard

It is extremely important for the safety and well being of your new puppy. that you prepare for his homecoming by “puppy proofing” your house. Ideally, you should get on your puppy’s level - on your hands and knees. Crawl or look around each room to see what your puppy could get into. Look for such items as electrical cords, poisonous plants, dangerous items that your puppy could chew or swallow, and anything else that could hurt your puppy. If you have valuable furniture or special items in your home that could be damaged, move the item up or put it away until your puppy is older. Favorite things to chew on are throw rugs, toys and newspapers (or the mail)! If you cannot afford to have it destroyed, get it out of pup’s way. And remember that anything swallowed that cannot pass through the pup’s system will require surgery to remove. By the way, holiday time is the worst time to bring a puppy home for this and other reasons!

It is best to purchase child gates to secure your pup in a room that provides a safe environment. Select the room where you can watch him all the time. If you are not watching your puppy, put him into his crate or ex-pen. (Exercise pens can be purchased from venders of pet products.) Follow this procedure until your puppy has finished his teething stage and is 100% housetrained for at least 2 weeks or more. Yes, that means several months.

If there are items that you do NOT want to move and your puppy is finding very chewable, you can spray them with a chew repellant like Bitter Apple, it can be purchased at most pet stores or from a catalog. There are a number of products on the market and some work better than others. A firm “NO” when pup starts to chew is also a good idea and the start of obedience training.  

Hazards that may be missed are garbage and trash receptacles in the kitchen and waste paper baskets in bedroom and bath. Baby locks can work to prevent access to under counter cabinets and open waste containers should be placed high in rooms where the pup will have access to them. Keeping the puppy in a confined area is the best preventative --and older dogs will be tempted by garbage!

Among the greatest hazards to a pup are the exits from your home! Doors should be carefully closed and children must be taught not to hold the door open or the pup will escape. A fenced yard is a requirement before some breeders will place a pup. Add the words “Sit” and “Stay” to your early home training and require the pup to be in position before opening the door, once he has learned these commands.

Carefully walk your entire fence line. Look for loose or broken boards that may provide an escape route for your puppy. Make sure there are no gaps under the fence providing escape from your yard. Even a small space of 2-4 inches can allow a young dog to get free. Check to see that each gate latches securely every time.
Then make sure all gates are secured and your children, gardeners, or anyone else with access to your backyard knows to close and latch each gate every time they enter or leave your property. This is extremely important for the safety and protection of your new puppy. If you are still unsure about your fence and gates being able to confine your puppy, never let the puppy out in your backyard without being on a leash and being supervised. Or you can set up a large safe play area by putting two exercise pens together and placing the ex-pens either on your patio, lawn or a combination of both areas. Even in ex-pens and fenced yards, supervision is important.

You need to take extra care if you have a swimming pool that the puppy can fall into. Swimming pools can be very attractive to a curious pup. He might not realize that he cannot “walk on water” or he may accidentally fall in while playing too closely around the pool. It is always a good idea to teach your puppy how to get out of your pool in case he does fall in accidentally or he may drown. When it is time for your puppy to have a bath (the pool chemicals are harmful to his coat and need to be shampooed out), go with him for a swim. Show him how to get out of the pool safely. This is also true for large ponds or any body of water in your yard. After his swimming lesson is over, give your puppy a complete bath to get rid of all the chemicals from his coat and skin. It is a good idea to repeat the swimming pool lesson annually so your Havanese remembers how to get out of the pool if he falls in.

Many plants in your yard may be poisonous to dogs. If you are unsure if the plant that your puppy has eaten is poisonous, a listing of poisonous plants along with pictures of the plants is provided on the Purdue website at http://vet.purdue.edu/depts/addl/toxic/cover1.htm. Remember, every minute counts if your puppy has been poisoned. Contact your vet immediately. If it is after hours then contact the Animal Poison Control Center 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435). There is a $45 fee for the Animal Poison Control Center services but if this could save your puppy, you will think it is worth it.

Before you bring a puppy home, it is a good to get rid of any fleas or ticks that are living on your property. It is always much easier to maintain a flea-free puppy, if the puppy doesn’t have fleas in the first place. If you have other pets already, make sure all of them are flea-free. Outside cats especially attract fleas. If necessary have your other pets flea-dipped. Do NOT bring your new puppy into an environment with fleas since some Havanese are very allergic to fleabites.

Above all else, enjoy your new puppy in the safe environment you created for him. If you feel your home and yard are “child proof” then your puppy should be safe there, too. Remember to supervise your puppy closely when you first bring him home to make sure you have not missed something dangerous to his safety.  

One last word of warning is to NEVER leave your puppy in your backyard when you are not at home to supervise him. You could come home and find him missing or badly injured. Please take care to ensure his safety whether you are home or away.