Who’s Really The Boss?

Ahhhhh, soooo cute! Puppies are the best – Eric and I are both dog lovers and owners. But before you decide to bring one home, know that this adorable creature needs to be kept safe, like a little child, while your home also needs to be protected from potential – (make that probable) scratches, stains and damage. Here are some steps and our personal experiences to show that wonderful, lovable pooch who is really boss, and set down some rules for a long and happy relationship to enjoy for many years to come!

Quick tips to puppy-proof your home:

The Kitchen

– Open cabinets: Can contain caustic cleaners.
– Accessible garbage pail: Can contain bad food, bones and plastic wrap that could be swallowed
– Overhanging pan handle: Can be pulled off of stove.
– Open oven doors: May be very hot.
– Knives, skewers: Can be licked or swallowed.
– Plastic bags, wrap and aluminum foil: Can be swallowed if they taste like the food they were wrapped in.
– Plastic canisters: Can form a deadly airtight seal if a puppy gets his head stuck inside.

What to do: Close cabinet doors; install childproof locks if the puppy can open them, and store caustic cleaners in high cupboards. Place the garbage pail under the sink or on the counter. Don’t leave wrappers or implements where puppies can reach them. Don’t let the puppy underfoot when you’re cooking!

Dining Room:

– Swinging door: Can swing shut on a tail, or worse, neck.
– Hanging tablecloth: Can be pulled down, along with what’s on it.

What to do: Remove or prop open swinging doors. Go without a tablecloth for a while -or keep him out of the room when you eat!

Family Room:

– Fireplace without secure fire screen: Can burn puppy.
– Uncovered electrical outlets: Can shock if licked.
– Electric wires: Can shock if chewed through, or can pull lamps and appliances down when pulled on.
– Unattached Bookcase: Can be pulled down on top of a puppy.
– Sewing or knitting basket: Can contain pins and thread, both of which can cause serious problems if swallowed.
– Craft kits: Can contain glue, beads, strings and other objects that are dangerous if swallowed.
– Open stairway: Small puppies may not be ready to negotiate steps.

What to do: Get a good fire screen and don’t let the puppy loose around a fire. Cover electrical outlets and hide as many electric cords as possible. Place hobby and sewing baskets out of reach. Place a baby gate in front of stairways. Don’t let the puppy play unsupervised! A playpen or exercise pen is a good place to keep him around when you’re distracted.


– Toys: Can be destroyed and some parts can be dangerous if swallowed.
– Coins: Pennies, especially, are dangerous if swallowed because they are made of zinc and can cause zinc toxicity.
– Open closets: Don’t blame the puppy if he chews your shoes!
– Diaper pail: If swallowed, diaper material can cause impactions or bowel obstructions.
– Blinds with long cords: Can choke a puppy if the puppy catches his head in them.

What to do: Don’t leave toys, coins or diaper pails in reach. Close closet doors or place shoes on racks. Cut the loop in the cords for blinds, leaving two long pieces, or hang the cord out of reach. Place a baby gate in front of children’s rooms that may not be reliably tidied.


– Pills: Puppies can chew through childproof caps and can overdose on normally safe medications and react adversely to some human medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, even in small doses.
– Toiletries: Toothpaste, razors, hair coloring, suntan lotions, deodorants and rubbing alcohol must all be kept out of reach.
– Drain cleaners: Drain cleaners can be deadly if swallowed, and can cause severe irritation on contact.

What to do: Close the bathroom door! Even so, keep everything out of reach in medicine cabinets or cupboards.

Laundry Room:

– Detergents, bleach and lye: Some powders can burn eyes and throats, and bleach can be blinding or fatal.

What to do: Place everything up high. If possible, close the door or use a baby gate in front of it.


– Antifreeze: Just one lick of antifreeze containing ethylene glycol can kill. Propylene glycol is less toxic. With either, clean up any spills.
– Gasoline, diesel, oil, kerosene, brake fluid, carburetor cleaner, windshield fluid, paints, paint thinners, acetone, mineral spirits, wood stain, furniture polish, used oil, batteries, glue: Can irritate skin and yes, and may be toxic if swallowed.
– Tools: Heavy tools can fall on a puppy.
– Car: Puppies may fall asleep under a parked car and not move when it starts.
– Garage door: Puppies may try to run through at the last second, resulting in breaking their back.
– Nails, tacks, and screws: May be deadly if swallowed.
– Herbicides, rodent poisons, slug bait: May be enticing to eat, deadly if swallowed.
– Fertilizers: May be deadly if swallowed.

What to do: Keep the puppy out of the garage! The only exception is if you make a puppy-proof area from which the puppy cannot escape.


– Decks, balconies, and upper level open windows: May have open sides that a puppy can fall from.
– Unsealed deck wood: Pressure treated wood contains arsenic; if not sealed regularly it can leach out and be toxic, especially if licked.
– Open doors: Can let your dog get loose and be hurt; may also be caught by the wind and slam on the puppy.
– Glass doors: Running into a glass door can cause neck injuries.
– Weak fence: Every time the puppy finds a way out it teaches him to keep on trying harder next time.
– Unfenced pool: Unless he knows how to get out, he can fall in and drown.
– Cocoa mulch: Has a chocolate taste, but contains toxic theobromine.
– Nut trees: Swallowed nuts may need to be surgically removed.
– Tree limbs: Falling limbs can crush a puppy.
– Pointed twigs or sticks at eye level: Can poke a running puppy in the eye.
– Predators: Small puppies can be viewed as prey by coyotes, mountain lions, alligators and large birds of prey. Neighborhood dogs may attack a puppy. People may steal one.
– Wild animals: Poisonous snakes, snapping turtles, giant marine toads and stinging insects may injure a puppy in self defense.
– Poisonous plants: Learn what poisonous plants are in your area, and keep the puppy away.
– Treated lawns: Keep the puppy off freshly treated lawns.

What to do: Place barriers or temporary fencing, even chicken wire, in front of open high places. Seal deck wood. Make it a rule that doors are either shut firmly or held open with a doorstop. Place decals on glass doors at puppy level. Fix any weak spots in the fence. Teach your puppy to swim and how to get out of the pool. If he cannot swim, fence the pool off. Remove cocoa mulch. Remove rotted branches, or place temporary fencing beneath them and nut trees. Remove or fence off poisonous plants.
Remember: If a toddler could get into it, it’s child’s play for a puppy!