Puppy Proofing Your Home and Yard

It is extremely important for the safety and well being of your new puppy that you prepare for his homecoming by ‘puppy proofing’ your home.Ideally, you should get on your puppy’s level (on your hands and knees) and look around each room to see what your puppy could get into.Look for such items as electrical cores, poisonous plants, dangerous items that your puppy could chew or swallow, and anything else that could hurt your puppy.If you have valuable furniture or special items in your home that could be damaged, move the item up or put it away until your puppy is older.Favorite things to chew on are throw rugs, toys, shoes and slippers, and newspapers (or the mail).If you cannot afford to have it destroyed, get it out of pup’s way.And remember that anything swallowed that cannot pass through the pup’s system will require surgery to remove.Holiday times and family celebrations are the worst time to bring a puppy home for these and other reasons!

Hazards that might be missed are garbage and trash receptacles in the kitchen and waste baskets in the bedrooms and bath. Child locks can work to prevent access to under counter cabinets. Open waste containers should be placed high in rooms where the pups will not have access to them.

Among the greatest hazards to a pup are the exits from your home! Doors should be carefully closed and children must be taught not to hold the door open or the pup will escape. Add the words ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’ to your early home training and require the pup to be in position before opening the door, once he has learned these commands. Use positive reinforcement (giving treats) not punishments. See the Obedience Training article at www.bfca.org.Click on Breed Information, then on Caring and Training, and then on Puppy Information.

You may want to purchase child gates to secure your pup in a room that provides a safe environment. Select a room where you can watch him all the time. If you are not watching your puppy, put him into his crate or exercise pen. Follow these procedures until your puppy has finished his teething stage and is 100% housetrained. Yes, that means several months. A firm NO! when pup starts to chew something is also a good idea and the start of obedience training.

If you have a fenced yard, carefully walk your entire fence line. Look for loose or broken boards that may provide an escape from your yard. Even a small space of 2-4 inches can allow a young dog to get free. Check to see that each gate latches securely every time. Then make sour all gates are secured and your children, gardeners, or anyone else with access to your backyard knows to close and latch each gate every time they enter or leave your property. This is extremely important for the safety and protection of your new puppy. Never let your puppy out in your securely fenced backyard without being on a leash and being supervised. Enclosing your deck or patio with exercise pens may work—ask your breeder for advice. Even in ex-pens and fenced yards, supervision is important because some Bichons are g-r-e-a-t climbers.

You need to take extra care if your have a swimming pool that the puppy can fall into.Swimming pools can be very attractive to a curious pup.(Yes, this is the same pup that hates to have a bath!)He might not realize that he cannot ‘walk on water’, or he may accidentally fall in while playing too closely around the pool.It is always a good idea to teach your puppy how to get out of your pool in case he does fall in accidentally or he may drown.Go with him for a swim in the pool and show him where the ladder is.It is a good idea to repeat the swimming pool lesson every so often so your Bichon remembers how to get of the pool.After the lesson, you puppy will need a complete bath to get rid of all the chemicals from this coat and skin.

Many plants in your yard may be poisonous to dogs.Your local poison control website usually has a list and your vet and breeder can also advise you.Also ask them about lawn treatments for weeds ‘ many are poison to dogs.

Another hazard is the danger of fire while you are away from home.Most fire companies and pet stores have stickers called ‘pet locators’ that can be attached to a window or door where the pet can be found while you are away an easily found should the unexpected occur.

One last word of warning is to NEVER leave your puppy in your backyard when you are not home to supervise him. You could come home and find him missing or badly injured. Please take care to ensure his safety whether you are home or away.