Puppy-proof house

Question:

I’ll be bringing a puppy home soon — how should I prepare or “puppy-proof” my house?

Answer:

Proper and effective puppy training begins even before the puppy arrives home: Eliminate the possibility of your pup engaging in dangerous or unwanted behaviors and set him up for training success.

Allowing your puppy the run of your home may seem like a fun idea, but that inevitably leads to undesirable behaviors like destructive chewing, “stealing” (i.e., your favorite slippers), or house soiling. Ideally, your puppy should be confined to one room of the house until he begins to demonstrate that he can be trusted in other parts of the house. The first step is to decide where the puppy will spend most of his time; the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room tend to be good choices because the floors are usually easier to clean.

When the area is selected, I recommend that you get down to your pup’s level — literally. Crawl around on your hands and knees and look for anything that could be problematic — electrical cords, plants, rugs (especially with fringe or tassels) — or anything you do not want your puppy to have access to. If an item can’t be removed from the area, such as an electrical wire, cover it with plastic tubing or block the puppy’s access to the area in question.

Once you have removed anything that may be dangerous, set up the proper environment. Establish two areas specifically for your pup: one for short-term confinement and one for the long-term. A crate is perfect for the short-term confinement area. For the long-term confinement area, provide a bed, a bowl, and toys that are safe for your puppy to play with unsupervised.

Remember, the habits that are being established now will be with your dog for life. Rather than waiting for things to go wrong, be proactive in helping your dog get it right. Simple environmental controls will help establish good habits, keep your puppy happy and healthy, and keep your house and mental health intact.