Bringing a puppy home is an exciting and rewarding experience. It is important that your home is prepared for their arrival to make the transition as smooth and safe for them as possible. As you puppy proof your home, consider the following hazards if they are applicable to your living environment:

  1. Secure household cleaners, chemicals, poisons, antifreeze and medications to ensure they are out of reach. Make sure you remove all cleaners, chemicals, and poisons from their reach. This goes beyond removing the items from the floor where your pup would have easy access. You should take extra precaution and remove them from lower cabinets as well (kitchen, bathroom and garages are the usual culprits where this happens), or add childproof latches. People can leave cabinets open mistakenly and smart pups learn to open them in ways you never imagined. Additionally, make sure you don’t leave these items out on countertops. Puppies will jump up to get them while you’re not looking.

  1. Secure your trash can. Your trash cans are not out of reach, especially bathroom trash cans which tend to be much shorter and open. You’ll want to secure all your trash cans to make sure your pup can’t dive right into the contents. You have two main options to secure a trash can, getting a locking trash can or putting your trash can inside a cabinet. Locking trash cans is a really great option. For example, PetGuard has sensor locking trash cans that are safe (there are some smart puppers out there that have figured out how to step on the pedal of trash cans to open them so we like sensors better). 

  1. Secure electrical cords. These look just like toys to puppies so keep them out of reach. They can burn their mouths and shock them. Electrical cords can either be fastened closely to the walls or secured inside dog-proof tubes. You can also block your puppy's access to them altogether by using a gate. As a rule of thumb, if something doesn’t need to be plugged in all the time, don’t plug it in at first. 

  1. Remove house plants from reach. Some common house plants are poisonous for dogs, and in general puppies love to go exploring so it’s better to keep all plants out of reach at least when you first bring them home. They’ll even try to eat the dirt, trust us! If you have house plants, check out this guide to see common poisonous plants for dogs.

  1. Keep belongings off the floor. They’ll think everything is a chew toy so don’t leave things lying around. Shoes, socks, things on the bottom shelf of a book stand, etc should all be put away elsewhere. 

  1. Be aware of heights. Puppies are small so they can’t always get down from where they are. When you first bring a puppy home, you should assume they can’t use stairs well (or at all) and that they will not be able to safely get down from a bed or couch on their own. To keep them safe around stairs, you should have a baby gate on both ends of the stairs so that they can’t fall down the stairs or try to squeeze between the railings. A puppy that falls down the stairs could be seriously injured and need medical attention. 

  1. Keep puppies away from grass and lawns that have been treated. Not all grass is safe for your pup. If you have a lawn and use lawn treatment, make sure it is dog friendly. If it is not, check how long it remains on the surface after application (it’s usually around 3 days, but check your specific brand). If you’re out walking your dog, keep an eye out for signs of lawn pesticides that are not dog friendly. These spots should be clearly marked. 

  1. Remove bathtub items: If you keep any items on your tub (e.g., shampoo, shower gel, razors) go ahead and remove them. Your pup will easily reach them and can get seriously hurt if they ingest any of it.

  1. Watch out for space heaters and fireplaces. Be careful with fireplaces and space heaters. The heat is not going to keep a curious puppy away so you should have a screen or gate to protect your pup if you’re using these. 

  1. Keep packing materials out of reach. When you get a new package and are opening it, it’s very easy to leave plastic and bubble wrap around for even a few minutes. Take extra care to make sure you put it away or throw it out immediately so your pup can’t get to it. A pup that ingests plastic or bubble wrap can suffocate and get an intestinal obstruction. 

  1. Make sure to close closet doors. Your closet is not puppy proof and it’s easy to forget to close the doors. If you are likely to leave them open out of habit, place a post-it note on the door for the first couple weeks to remind you to close it. 

  1. Puppy proof your night table. Your night table doesn’t seem like an easy place for your dog to reach at first, but once they're on your bed (assuming that’s allowed!), the night table is easily accessible. People tend to leave small items on there like loose change and Chapstick, and have lamps and alarm clocks with cables. Make sure these items are not within reach. 

  1. Keep your toilet lid closed. Your puppy could try to drink water from the bowl and fall in. 

  1. Secure the cords that raise the blinds. This could easily become your dog’s favorite toy. It’s a choking hazard as they can get caught around your puppy’s neck. You can loop the cord around a command hook on the side of the wall so that your puppy can’t reach it. 

  1. Close or secure your window. This way your puppy can’t jump out!

  1. Remove toxic and/or dangerous foods from their reach. You can find a list of foods to avoid here.

  1. Lastly, the eye level test. Puppies are small. They see things at different angles and their curiosity knows no bounds. You should lay on the floor and look around your home to see what your puppy will see. This is a great way to catch the small items you’ve missed. It could be a hidden electrical cord, a penny on the floor, or a stack of magazines - those all need to be moved out of reach.