Your First Puppy!
If you’ve just brought your first puppy home or are planning to bring one home in the near future, it’s worth taking the time to consider some of the potential problems you may face so that you can anticipate them and make their first few weeks as magical as possible! We have some great advice for you.
Puppy Proofing Your Home
Your home may look safe to you upon first glance, but when you take the time to look at it from a puppy’s point of view, there are many hidden dangers. Here are a few you should know about!
Given the number of electronic gadgets people have in their homes today, living rooms and bedrooms are often full of electrical cords. Puppies can and will chew on these if left unsupervised with them, and they can cause burns to the mouth or even death. Please consider tying them up out of reach or using one of the many cord management systems available to keep them concealed and puppy-proof.
Cabinets & Cupboards
Your bathroom and kitchen will likely contain all kinds of things in cabinets and cupboards which could be harmful to a puppy, including dangerous cleaning products, sharp implements and food. While it’s a good idea to place anything harmful in higher cabinets, consider using child proof latches on your lower cabinets to prevent your curious puppy from investigating. These are available from any hardware store.
Keeping plants in the home makes for a healthier and more relaxed living environment , but many kinds of plants are toxic to dogs. There are more than you think! Examples include the Peace Lily, Snake Plant, Rhododendron, Lemon Grass, Geranium and Chrysanthemum – but this is just the tip of the iceberg! This article from the ASPCA contains a comprehensive list so it’s a good idea to check if any of your plants are on it and keep them out of puppy’s reach.
Puppies love trash cans! They will tip them over and spend some “quality” time nosing through the contents for potential food and toys. But kitchen trash cans are full of dangerous scraps and bacteria, whilst bathroom trash cans often contain choking hazards and things like used razors. Consider buying a puppy proof trash can which has a strong fitting lid that your puppy can’t open and won’t fall off when tipped. Simple Human makes some excellent ones!
To a dog, a toilet is just a giant water bowl! And while many owners have a liberal toilet-drinking policy, it’s just a bad idea all round! Toilet water can not only contain nasty bacteria, but also residual traces of toxic cleaning agents. You should always keep your toilet lid down – especially if you use an automatic toilet cleaner or cistern tablet. Consider buying a water fountain for your puppy if they show an interest in drinking from places that aren’t their regular water bowl.
It goes without saying that you should keep all drugs and medication out of reach of your puppy. They love the challenge of getting into closed containers and will almost certainly attempt to eat the little “rewards” inside! This also goes for things like lotions and creams. If you find that your puppy has swallowed medication not meant for it – or indeed anything else potentially toxic – then please call the Pet Poison Helpline immediately. They could save your puppy’s life!
You may have seen any of a number of funny photos online of dogs getting themselves hopelessly trapped in Venetian blinds. And while this is undoubtedly cute, blinds do present a potentially fatal hazard for dogs just like they are for small children. A curious pup might well be tempted to play with a dangling blind cord, and could potentially get themselves ensnared in it and become strangulated. Please make sure that your blind cords are tied up out of reach, and that there are no chairs your puppy could climb to get to them.
Puppies are naturally curious about what’s going on outside. They hear other dogs barking, cats meowing and birds chirping and they gotta check it out! For this reason, it’s a good idea to make sure that there are no open windows for your puppy to escape from or hurt themselves falling out of. Ordinary screens are not good protection – they can easily pop out with the weight of a small dog, so consider either fitting window bars or if you must have a window open, open the top half instead.
Fires & Heaters
Open fires are especially dangerous for puppies – they’re not likely to wander into a raging fire of their own free will, but consider what might happen if they accidentally tumble into one during their “mad half hour” (every puppy has them!) For this reason, you should always cover an active fireplace with a sturdy fire guard and never leave them unattended around a fire. Similarly, space heaters are a hazard considering how easy they are to tip over. Always keep them out of the way of puppies!
Getting your puppy used to climbing up and down stairs is something that’s going to take time – they’re clumsy and rarely take to it immediately! For this reason, if you have stairs in your home then it’s a very good idea to install baby gates at the top or bottom to prevent your puppy from wandering onto them out of curiosity, or falling down them by accident. Just make sure that they’re convenient to open and close because you’re probably going to be doing that a lot!
To Crate Or Not To Crate?
Many new puppy owners wrestle with the idea of crating their puppy. Is it cruel? Will the puppy feel lonely or claustrophobic? In general, crating is a good idea. Not only will it help your puppy learn to control their toilet functions, but it also makes them feel safe and secure when they’re alone! Puppies can feel overwhelmed when they’re alone in a large open space, and the crate gives them a sense of warmth and security which reminds them of their mother’s womb. For this reason, it’s often a good idea to make the space in your crate even smaller by using its dividing wall (if it has one). Just make sure your puppy has enough room to stretch out and turn around.
You can also add to the “womb” feeling by covering the crate with a blanket. Some people put a hot water bottle in the crate and a ticking clock nearby to remind them of their mother’s heartbeat, but you really don’t need to do this. However it can be helpful to leave a TV or radio on for your puppy to drown out noise from outside or in the hallway, which is a common source of anxiety for them when they’re alone. You’ll also want to leave a couple of their favorite toys in there, and perhaps a “Kong” toy with a few pieces of their food inside to keep them occupied!
What Do I Need?
It’s tempting to go online and purchase every puppy related product you can find, but you only really need a few essentials!
When Can Puppy Go Outside?
Your puppy should not go outside until they have finished their immunization shots. This is to protect them from the infectious diseases they could pick up outside and from contact with other dogs. If you put your puppy down on the sidewalk before they have been immunized, there is the risk that they might pick up viruses from the urine of other dogs – if they lick their paws later, you’re going to have one sick puppy!
Most vets recommend waiting a week after their last vaccination booster, so usually around 14-16 weeks of age, although you should confirm with them with it’s OK. Sometimes it’s OK to take a puppy outside as long as you carry them and don’t put them down.
Until your puppy is old enough for outside walks, we can stop by for
in-home puppy sitting visits to make sure they are fed, watered, clean and happy!