How to Dog Proof Your Home


How to Dog Proof Your Home. Boston Terrier Society.
Sofia looking at the aftermath of leaving Bella home alone. We did not Dog-Proof the trashcan!

Are you bringing a new dog home? Be it a puppy or an adult dog, this is a fun and exciting time. However, it is essential you dog proof your house before your new pup arrives. Dog-proofing your home is vital for two main reasons.

First and foremost, it keeps your new canine companion safe.

Second, it saves you time and money. Time, because you won’t have as many messes to clean up and money because you won’t have to replace what your dog just destroyed or pay high veterinary bills.

Dog-proofing a house means looking at your home from a new and lower perspective.  Things we take for granted can be hazardous to a dog, items like cords, stairs, and garbage cans all pose significant dangers to curious dogs.  

Dog-proofing your home might sound a bit daunting, but don’t panic, below we cover how to dog proof your whole house from the kitchen to the basement and even out to the garage.  

How to Dog Proof any Room of Your Home

It doesn’t matter if you reside in a house or an apartment, there are always ways to keep your home intact and your new canine companion protected. Here is a room by room guide to help you dog proof every room.

How to Make Your Living Room a Safe Haven for Your New Pup

Whether you call it your living room, family room, or great room, it’s all the same to your dog. Your new family member has the potential to cause a severe amount of mischief in this room. Some of the common dangers found in this room are:

Cords

Keep cords covered or tucked away. Wires are at the perfect puppy level, and bored puppies like to chew. Bella, my Boston Terrier, ate through my brand new laptop computer, costing me $90.00 if I did not happen to have the insurance on it at the time.

If you are unable to tuck the cords away or cover them, you can try using a spray deterrent like Grannick’s Bitter Apple. Check out the pricing here on Amazon for Grannick’s Bitter Apple.

Simple ways you can cover cords are:

  • Tape 
  • Rugs
  • Cord concealer (a plastic channel that covers the cord)

Furniture

Occasionally puppies will attempt to chew on furniture, if this occurs redirect your dog to a more appropriate form of play, such as chewing on a bone or playing with a puppy approved toy.

Another common issue with dogs and furniture is that many dogs may want to be up on it and their humans would prefer they keep all four paws on the floor. If this is an issue, check out the section below regarding how to keep dogs off furniture.

Keepsakes – Such as figurines, vases, decorative pieces

You will want to move these items out of the dog’s reach. Remember their range isn’t just when they are standing with all four on the floor, it also includes when they stand on their hind legs. The ideal spot for fragile items is on a higher shelf or surface pushed back away from the edge.

Moving your keepsakes to a new location isn’t a forever change, but merely temporary until you know your new dog better, some dogs, even some puppies aren’t all that naughty. However, until you are confident in your dog’s habits, it is safest to keep them out of sight for a bit.

Floor Lamps

Floor lamps can easily be tipped over by your dog or puppy. Often casualties of this sort are the result of puppy play. If it’s possible, try and move the lamp to an out of the way spot in the room.  Cleaning up glass lamp fragments is an unpleasant job, not to mention potentially dangerous for puppy paws.

House Plants

Found on the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) website is a list of hundreds of plants poisonous to dogs. If you have any of these plants in your home, you will want to be sure to move them out of your dog’s reach or remove them from your house altogether. 

Common Poisonous Plants to Dog Are:

  • Aloe
  • Apple Tree
  • Buckeye
  • California Ivy
  • Chives
  • Daisys
  • Tomato Plant

Outlets

Outlets can be a fun a curious thing for puppies, so it’s essential to make sure that plugs are appropriately secured in the outlet to avoid your pup from getting shocked or burned.

Air Fresheners

Almost all commercial air fresheners contain Volatile Organic Compounds which often made up of products considered toxic or hazardous under US Federal law.

Breathing in air fresheners can cause health issues in dogs, and the consumption of the air freshener can cause extreme gastrointestinal upset or neurological problems. It is vital, air fresheners are kept out of reach of your dog, this includes plug-in air fresheners as well.  

Remotes

Remote controls tend to have our pleasant scent all over it, which may act as an attractant to your dog.  

The dangers associated with chewing on remotes are:

  • Cutting themselves on the hard plastic
  • Ingesting parts of the remote 
  • Eating the batteries can lead to burns inside their mouth or consuming part, or the whole battery can cause damage to internal organs

Pop Cans and Water Bottles

Pop cans (or if you are from the region that calls them soda cans) and water bottles are fun for dogs to play with since they make an amusing noise when chewed on. However, there are potential choking hazards and the possibility of cutting their lips or gums on sharp edges. 

Things you should add to your living room 

Dog Crate

If you spend much of your time in your living room, it’s a good idea to put a crate in this room, that way your dog has its own space. At times when your dog may need to wind down, or if you need to confine your pup, it’s ideal the crate be in a room that the family is also in.

If you want to learn more about crate training, check out my article on, How To Crate Train Your Boston Terrier.

Toys

Toys are a great distraction and way to redirect puppies from chewing on the wrong thing such as the couch. Redirecting your dog to a more positive and acceptable outlet to expel their energy, you are training them to understand their boundaries.

Dog Bed

If you don’t have a crate for this room, provide a dog bed, so your dog has its own place to lounge and relax while watching TV. Having a dog bed in the room is especially important if you plan on keeping your dog off of the furniture.

How to Keep Your Dog Out of Danger in Your Kitchen

Cupboard doors

You may need to consider securing cupboard doors with a child lock if you find your dog can open the doors and check out what’s inside. A dog opening a cupboard door may sound crazy, but let me assure you it’s not that unusual.

A cupboard door, if you don’t know what they look like, are pretty much standard doors in kitchen and bathroom cabinets. If you want to see what they look like check out this Google search of images.

Cleaning Supplies

Food isn’t the only thing found behind a cupboard door; many cleaning supplies are harmful to dogs.  

Common Chemicals Harmful To Dogs:

  • Bleach
  • Window Cleaner
  • Drain Cleaner
  • Oven Cleaner

Dogs do not need to ingest cleaning products to have an adverse reaction. Sometimes the fumes can damage their olfactory senses or cause skin irritations. Be sure to store these products out of reach or behind childproof locks.

Garbage Cans

YUMMY!!!  At least that’s what most dogs think when they see and smell a garbage can. Dogs are notorious for getting into the garbage, so it’s crucial to keep them out of it. Using trash cans with lids or putting the trash under the sink can aid in keeping your pup out of trouble. 

Bella, my Boston Terrier, destroys my trash can about 80% of the time I forget to put it away when we leave. Below is a funny video of how Bella killed the trash can when I left her alone, then my daughter does something disgusting but hilarious.

Foods

There are many foods commonly found in our kitchen that are considered toxic to dogs.  Here are just a few of these foods. 

  • Grapes or Raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Coffee
  • Onions and Garlic

For further information on human foods not only dangerous but safe for dogs, check out my article on, Human Foods Safe To Eat.

How to Eliminate Dangers to Your Dog in the Bedroom

The bedroom shares some everyday items with the living room, such as remotes, outlets, and cords. But in addition to those, here are a few more things to look out for in the bedroom.   

Eye Glasses & Retainers

Both tend to attract our canine companion’s attention because they smell like us. However, if your dog chews on them, they can cause a possible choking hazard. 

My Boston loves to chew up our retainers. She has done this three times so far in seven years, not too bad. But every time she does it cost us $100 to replace. 

Books

Dogs love chewing on books, and though they rarely cause health issues, it’s best to keep those tucked away in the nightstand.

Shoes & Clothes

Dogs have been chewing on shoes since the beginning of time, but in addition to shoes, dogs will also munch on clothes, especially dirty clothes. Dogs have been known to ingest clothes and shoes, which can cause your dog to have an intestinal blockage.

How to Dog Proof your Bathroom

Toilet Paper

Dogs, especially puppies, find toilet paper fun to play with, but some dogs will eat the toilet paper. This can cause an upset stomach.

Medications

According to the Pet Poison Hotline, 50% of the calls they receive are because dogs have ingested human pills. Medications don’t have to prescription pills to be dangerous. Common over the counter drugs like NSAIDs (common pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen), vitamins, and acetaminophen (example: TYLENOL) can all be toxic to dogs.  

If your dog has ingested any of your medications, you can call Animal Poison Control Center at (855) 764-7661.

Cleaners

Just like kitchen cleaning products, bathroom cleaners can be extremely toxic to your pooch.  

Hairbrushes, personal toiletries, and cosmetics

Puppies will eat or chew on almost anything, and even if something may not be toxic, it still can cause intestinal blockages, cuts, or gastrointestinal upset. 

How to Find and Eliminate Dangerous Conditions in the Garage

Garages are full of dangerous toxins for dogs. Things like pest and weed control products, fertilizers, and antifreeze are all items found in a garage that could potentially kill your dog.  

Antifreeze

Antifreeze is one of the worst toxins for dogs.  Any amount of antifreeze, even if it dripped into a puddle of water, is poisonous to dogs. Be sure to store antifreeze so your dog cannot find it and clean any areas where antifreeze has dripped or spilled.

Weed and Pest Control Products

These products are poisonous and can be deadly to dogs. Keep such products on higher shelves, and if possible, store them inside bins that have lids.    

Paint and Varnish

Some house paints and varnishes are toxic to dogs, be sure to read the labels and store them out of your dog’s reach.

How to dog proof a basement 

Dog-proofing your basement is similar to dog proofing your living room, but with the addition of the presence of stairs.  

Stairs can be a significant safety hazard to dogs and puppies, at least until they can confidently and safely navigate them. Until your dog can easily navigate the stairs, use a baby gate at the top of the steps to ensure your puppy’s safety. 

How to Dog Proof an Apartment

Dog-proofing an apartment is the same as dog proofing a house, just on a smaller scale.  However, if you are considering using a pet gate that needs to mount to a doorway, contact the apartment business office first. Drilling holes for hardware may cause you to forfeit your safety deposit. 

How to Create a Dog Free Zone

Sometimes there are rooms in the house that are off-limits to your four-legged fur baby, and that’s perfectly normal. Allowing your dog free-run of the house doesn’t need to include every room in the house. 

The obvious answer is to keep the door to the room shut, but not all rooms have a door that can be closed, often rooms simply have a doorway.  In these situations, using a dog gate in the entryway of the room works best.  

Dog gates range in height, length, color, material, and design.  Choosing the right gate depends on the space you’re trying to block and whether or not you desire it to be aesthetically pleasing.

If you intend to keep this area off limits to your dog long-term, you may consider training your dog to stay out of the room without the use of a barrier. You will start with the restriction in place, but over time with proper training, you can train them not to enter center areas of your house without the need of a gate.


Are There Sprays or Other Humane Deterrents to Keep my Dog Off the Furniture? 

There are dog repellent sprays that are safe to use on furniture. However, keep in mind that you may also dislike the smell of the repellent.  

A simple way to deter your dog from going on the furniture is to put something on top of it so your dog can’t jump on it. For example, if you don’t want your dog on the lazy boy put a box in the chair so your dog can’t jump up. Eventually, as you work with your dog, you will be able to remove the item blocking the chair and still keep the chair free of dog hair.

Be careful when using products that emit loud, beeping noises or electric shocks as your dog may become fearful of more than just getting up on the couch. Some dogs will react so strongly they may no longer feel safe entering the room they heard the beep or received a shock.  

When training your dog or puppy, it is always best to use a positive reinforcement method instead of a fear-based technique.   

Final Thoughts…

When you dog proof your home, remember this isn’t a forever thing, just like childproofing your home it’s temporary. You only need to keep your house dog proof until your dog is old enough and trustworthy enough to be safe around the day to day dangers. However, I still dog proof my rug and trash can, so I don’t tempt my dog when I leave to make a mess. This will happen if your dog becomes bored or anxious.

I know some of the dog proofing may not look the prettiest, but this time will pass faster than you think, especially with adult dogs.

Keep in mind one of the critical things you can do to keep your home dog proof is to put things away and keep them out of your dog’s reach.  

What is your best story gone wrong when it comes to dog proofing? Did your dog tear up something of extreme value? Please share by posting a comment below. 

References:

Donnie Gardner

Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.

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