Whether you’re bringing home a brand new puppy for the first time, or you’d just like to make your home a safer place for the family dog, there are a few ways you can dog-proof your home and create a more dog-friendly space.
But where do you begin?
It’s helpful to go through each room of your house systematically, looking at each space through your dog’s eyes. Some dangers are glaringly obvious (laundry detergent is not an appropriate puppy snack). Others—like mothballs or your lovely Calla Lily plant—not so much.
Use this comprehensive guide to ensure that your home is as safe as possible for your dog.
Dog-proofing your kitchen
The first stop on your dog-proofing mission should be the kitchen. This hub of family life usually poses the most dangers to your pet, so it’s important to assess and remove any possible threats.
1. Make trash inaccessible. To your dog, an open trash can is a smorgasbord of delicious delicacies. Aside from the obvious yuck factor, your dog could be harmed by swallowing something toxic or choking on a sharp bone. Remove the temptation by keeping all garbage cans securely covered.
2. Keep Fido from counter-surfing. You might be able to trust your spouse or kids not to go near your freshly baked chocolate cake that’s resting on the counter. Your dog, however, is another story. He just can’t resist helping himself to a sample (not that we blame him. I mean—it’s chocolate cake we’re talking about.) If this happens, not only will you have to deal with the devastation of a destroyed cake, but you’ll also have one seriously sick pup on your hands.
A lot of “human food” is off the table for our canine companions, even things that may seem innocuous like onions or apple cores. Keep food out of reach at all times. Childproof latches come in handy if your pet is particularly curious and clever.
3. Install barriers. A baby gate is an easy solution to keep your dog out of areas that are off-limits when you’re not around to supervise.
Dog-proofing your bathroom and laundry room
Another two rooms that require special attention are the bathroom and the laundry room. Make them dog-proof with the following tips.
1. Put down the lid. Some dogs find toilet bowl water a refreshing thirst quencher (gross, I know.) Prevent Fido from ingesting harsh chemical cleaners by making it a habit to keep the toilet lid down at all times.
2. Keep medicine out of reach. Did you know that the most common cause of pet poisoning is human medication? Don’t let this tragedy happen to your dog, and store all medicine and supplements in a secure cabinet or drawer.
3. Remove access to harmful chemicals. While it might seem obvious, it bears repeating: ensure that all cleaners, detergents, fabric softeners, and bleach are not accessible to your dog. Canines explore the world through their mouth, and we definitely don’t want your pup exploring any of these toxins.
4. Check the dryer. This is usually more applicable to cats, but it’s still good practice to peek in the dryer before using it, as this appliance can be a popular napping spot for pets. Better yet—keep the dryer door closed when not in use.
5. Pick up stray socks. We’ve all blamed the dryer for “eating” our socks, but it’s more likely Fido who’s to blame. Dogs, as you know, are fanatical chewers. This is a major problem if they’re swallowing bits of fabric from towels or socks that can become lodged in the esophagus or cause painful gastrointestinal issues.
Dog-proofing your living room
The main living spaces in our homes contain dangers that may not even occur to you during your dog-proofing process. Let’s take a closer look.
1. Be mindful of toxic plants. Who doesn’t love a bit of green foliage to brighten up our indoor space? Unfortunately, there are a number of ordinary houseplants that are toxic to pets, so you need to be judicious in your selection and placement of greenery. The ASPCA lays out a helpful guide to plants that are poisonous to dogs and cats, which is worth looking at if you’re an avid plant lover.
2. Watch out for electric cords. Protect your dog from the risk of electrocution or burns by keeping all wires from tvs, lamps, and other devices out of reach (Bonus: it will make your home look tidier!) You can also use protective cord covers to keep your dog from gnawing on them. Don’t forget to provide chew toys to satisfy his urge to chew.
3. Remove anything breakable or valuable. I’ll be the first to admit, this one has caused me some avoidable heartbreak. If you own things you’d rather not have broken, chewed up, or otherwise destroyed (say, like a precious family heirloom?)—keep them out of your dog’s reach. This is especially important if you have a curious and energetic puppy who hasn’t yet gotten over his urge to chew everything in sight.
4. Tidy up. After a competitive game of Monopoly, make sure you put away all those tiny game pieces, which can be a choking hazard to your dog. If you’re a crafter, don’t leave out supplies (especially sewing needles and thread!) that could be tempting to your pooch.
5. Keep an eye on your fireplace. Nothing’s cozier than a roaring fire—just don’t forget to keep a screen in place, or your dog could be harmed by the flames or a flying spark. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, fire starter logs are another thing to watch for, since they can cause obstruction or poisoning in dogs.
6. Use caution with candles. Don’t place candles in precarious places where your dog could easily knock them over.
Dog-proofing your bedroom
Your bedroom doesn’t pose many threats to your dog, thankfully. But there are still a few minor things you should consider.
1. Keep cosmetics tucked away. If you use makeup, lotions, hair products, or perfume, keep these things out of sight. The same goes for jewelry and hair clips.
2. Don’t leave laundry lying around. No, we’re not concerned with how tidy your home is. The problem with leaving laundry strewn across your bedroom floor is that strings and buttons can pose a serious choking hazard to pets if ingested. It’s just another incentive to get your family to pick up after themselves.
4. Place mothballs wisely. If you use them, make sure your dog can’t get to them, since mothballs are toxic to pets.
Dog-proofing your garage and/or basement
The garage and basement are two places in your home where you probably store a lot of chemicals and tools. Avoid disaster by adhering to these simple guidelines.
1. Store chemicals on higher shelves. Perhaps this is self-explanatory, but keep things like gasoline, coolants, pesticides, and antifreeze out of your dog’s reach or behind locked doors. Antifreeze deserves special consideration since it has a temptingly sweet taste to animals and is lethal if ingested. Clean up any spills immediately to keep your dog from lapping up a deadly sample of this stuff.
2. Store tools safely. Sharp garden shears and other dangerous tools should be kept somewhere your dog cannot get at. This also applies to tiny choking hazards like screws, nails, and bolts.
3. Be careful with rat poison. A rat infestation is problematic enough—don’t let your dog ingest that nasty stuff, or you’ll be facing an even bigger issue. According to PetMD, if you use rat poison, you should be on the lookout for dead rodents so that you can dispose of them immediately—before your dog gets to them.
Dog-proofing your home can be an involved and time-consuming process, but it’s one that is well worth the effort. You’ll rest easy, knowing that you’ve done everything in your power to keep your beloved canine safe.
For tips on dog-proofing your outdoor space, check out our blog post on how to puppy-proof your yard. Believe me, your dog will thank you for it.