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Tips For A Dog Proof Home

April 23, 2024

tips for a dog proof home

A dog proof home is essential before bringing home a new puppy or shelter dog. In addition to protecting your home furnishing and possessions, pet-proofing accessible spaces protects your dog from injuries or potentially life-threatening scenarios.

Creating A Safe Dog Proof Home Step-By-Step

Over time, some of these precautions may go by the wayside as everyone acclimates, learns the rules, gets adequate training, and is based on the dog’s natural disposition and tendencies. 

Proactively Prevent Destructive Behaviors In Your Home

Before we launch into our room-by-room approach to dog-proofing a home, there are things you can do beforehand to minimize destructive behaviors.

  • Learn about different dog breeds and their tendencies. Choosing the right breed (or mutt) for your home can help encourage the behaviors you want and minimize the risk of high-energy or anxiety-related damage.
  • Consult with a dog trainer to determine which types of dogs are best for your home and lifestyle. For example, you don’t want to purchase a gorgeous husky (bred to pull long-distance sleds) if you live in a small apartment and don’t exercise much. 
  • Get the scoop from the shelter staff about the best prospective dog match based on your household, lifestyle, and daily rhythm.
  • Start building daily walks, jogs, runs, etc., into your routine. Dogs need regular daily exercise. If you don’t already make that commitment, create the habit before getting a dog so you know you can keep it up once your new, eager-to-please companion arrives. 
  • Make sure your pup has lots of dog-safe toys to chew on, shake, and entertain them. By teaching your dog what they can chew/play with, they learn what’s off-limits.

Now, here’s what you can do to keep your home - and your new dog - safe. 

Decide which areas are on and off-limits at the start

Initially, we recommend keeping your puppy or dog confined to smaller areas of the home rather than giving them full rein. This allows you to teach them what’s allowed - and what’s not - in a single space. Over time, you can let your dog into other spaces, and they’ll bring their learned awareness with them.

This also minimizes the amount of damage a dog can do. For example, as you learn about your dog’s personality and how much they need to chew, be entertained/engaged, their energy levels, etc., you’ll only risk the items in a single room rather than the potential for destruction throughout the home.

We highly recommend investing in baby gates before bringing your dog home. They work well to keep dogs out of rooms they’re not allowed into (like the kitchen, the dining room, the formal living room, etc.). Eventually, you may not need them when you’re at home.

Shut the doors to unattended rooms

When your dog is left home unattended (or uncrated), shutting the doors to off-limits spaces is the best way to protect the room’s contents. Dogs aren’t the only ones who need training when bringing a dog into the home. Be prepared for a few sacrifices to be made as everyone learns the new rules.

Keep things picked up off the floor

If you don’t want it chewed, sucked, or eaten, keep it off the floor. A dog has to learn that socks, shoes, slippers, underwear, or kids’ toys are off-limits. Until they do, how would they know the difference between dog toys and your “toys?” Keeping things that shouldn’t be chewed out of their reach makes it impossible for them to damage them.

Training Tip: “Trade me” is one of the best commands to teach a dog. When they have something they shouldn’t, you give them a treat or a toy in exchange. This way, they learn what they can/can’t chew and that they don’t have to sacrifice. It’s a fun game, and they always win.

Keep food items out of their reach (especially if they’re able to jump up on tables/counters)

In a dog’s mind, any food that’s out and available is fair game. Some dogs learn to leave “people food” alone, but not all. The only way to make sure your dog doesn’t eat the pizza you leave on the coffee table during a bathroom break or the birthday cake sitting out on the counter is to put it away where they can’t get to it.

Secure electrical cords

An electrical cord looks like a fun tug-of-war toy to most dogs, and the rubber coating may be a very satisfying chew - until it’s not. There are a variety of pet-proof cord protectors out there, all with their pros and cons. The key is to minimize the amount of electrical cord available to dogs and repeat training that teaches them to “leave it.” Over time, they’ll stop chewing or playing with them (unless they suffer from anxiety or are under-exercised, in which the underlying cause needs to be addressed). 

Make sure you train your dog as they are less likely to be destructive

While minimal, non-physical consequences may be appropriate in some cases, like two-minute time-outs or using “no!” and redirecting work to a point, dogs often respond to positive reinforcement. If that doesn’t work then we need to use a behavioral interruptible concept such as a shaking can, a squirt bottle with water, or an ultrasonic device. As soon as they make the right decision and avoid the object or stay off of the table give over-the-top praise and rewards (healthy treats, pets, love, playtime, positive verbal encouragement, etc.). It is very important to teach a dog what is right and what is wrong. They want to be in a tightly bonded, safe, and trusting “pack.” and need to be given direction.

Be smart about introducing your dog to existing pets

A dog fight or dog-cat fight can do tremendous damage to your home, not to mention the animals or any humans who intervene. Taking the time to introduce your new dog to existing pets safely is an essential step in pet-proofing a home.

Alternative Canine Training Can Help Make Your Home A Dog Proof Home

Are you struggling to keep a dog out of trouble in your home? Or are you about to get a dog and want professional support preparing your home ahead of time? Schedule a consultation with Alternative Canine Training. We have decades of experience helping households integrate new dogs with greater ease and minimal damage.

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