6 Steps to Puppy-Proofing Your Apartment
Welcoming a puppy into your family is exciting!
However, amidst the fun of picking out a name and buying new toys, there are some practical steps you need to take in order to create a safe and comfortable environment for the new member of the household.
Puppies are curious creatures, so you’ll need to ensure you take care of any potential dangers. That way, they can adventure around their new space worry-free.
As you’re counting down the days until you can bring the little one home, follow these pointers to make your apartment completely puppy-proof.
#1. Designate a Puppy Space and Set Limits
Don’t make the mistake most new dog owners make and wait until it’s too late. Be one step ahead of the puppy. Make a systematic search of the dog’s roaming space. Start at one end of the apartment and work your way to the other end. Item by item, remove or protect each puppy target, meaning anything that doesn’t belong to the puppy.
If you are certain your puppy can’t escape her personal space, you can limit puppy-proofing to that room and do more proofing as the dog learns to behave and is given increased freedom in the house.
Don't let your puppy roam free too early
Decide which areas of your apartment you’ll allow your puppy to roam free. Use baby gates (or be conscious about closing doors) to block off any no-dog zones. If you have any stairs in your apartment, place gates there as well. Puppies can be clumsy, and it’s best to keep them as close to the ground as possible.
If you don’t have a confined, safe room to leave your pup unsupervised, invest in a dog pen.
Stock it with the necessities to keep them comfortable and entertained, like a dog bed, toys, food, and water. Since the puppy will likely still be in the process of house training, put down some newspaper or, better yet, puppy pads.
If possible, set up this space on hard flooring, such as tile or vinyl, so that any mess that may happen is easier to clean up.
#2. Put Away Unintentional Chew Toys
Look at your apartment through the eyes of puppy, and decide what objects might be deemed chew toy worthy.
Electrical cords can be super fun for a puppy to gnaw on, so tuck them away or put a cover on them—PVC pipes work great.
Remotes and small electronics should be stored away, particularly anything battery operated, as they can be dangerous if swallowed.
Electrical outlets are generally very easy for puppies to reach, so buy outlet covers to place throughout your home.
Miscellaneous clutter lying around your living space or bedroom, like shoes, dirty clothes, magazines, books, or jewelry, should be kept somewhere the puppy can’t access.
While your decorative pillows and throw blankets may make your space look great, it’s probably best to pack them up while your puppy is still being trained.
If you are worried about larger pieces of furniture, consider buying chew spray. This bitter tasting formula can be applied to the legs of chairs and tables (or any object you are worried about) to prevent your puppy from causing any major damage. While your puppy is still training, you may also want to put a sheet over couches or upholstered chairs to protect the fabric.
#3. Take Extra Caution in the Kitchen and Bathroom
Your kitchen and bathroom can contain some particularly hazardous items, so be very thorough when puppy-proofing these spaces.
While you may think the kitchen counter is safe, a very determined puppy may be able to make their way up there, especially as they get a bit older. Avoid leaving food or dangerous appliances and cooking utensils out on the counter.
Use air tight containers for store food
To store loose food, use airtight containers that will not only protect your food, but contain any smells that may attract a curious puppy. Study up on what ‘people food’ that you enjoy at home could be harmful to your puppy, and be extra aware when you have it in your kitchen.
Put away all cleaning supplies
In the bathroom, things like razors, shampoos, and soaps all pose a risk to your puppy. Even pill bottles with childproof lids are a danger, as they are easy to chew through.
Maintain a clutter-free bathroom counter, and keep all shower toiletries in a hanging shower rack, rather than the floor or side of the tub. Also, make sure everyone in the household gets accustomed to leaving the toilet lid down so that your puppy doesn’t end up drinking from the toilet or going on an accidental swim. For extra protection, you can install toilet lid locks.
#4. Be Mindful of Trash
Trash cans look like a gold mine of amusement for puppies. To ensure the little one doesn’t go on on a dumpster diving adventure, use trash cans with lids, or store them under the sinks in your bathroom and kitchen.
Beyond coming home to a garbage littered kitchen, there can be some serious risks if your puppy gets into a trash can. You never know what harmful items have been thrown away that your puppy can ingest, and trash bags pose a threat of suffocation. Be extra vigilant in making sure all trash cans are fully blocked off.
#5. Know Your Plants
House plants are a great way to bring character to a home, but there are some you may need to move or completely get rid of. Many common house plants can be toxic to puppies, such as sago palms and aloe plants, so do a little research into which of your plants may need to be moved or disposed. Even for the plants that are non-toxic, keep them off the floor and on a higher shelf so that your puppy isn’t tempted to go digging.
Side effects from poisonous plants
Many common househould plants are toxic or poisonous to dogs. The effects can vary widely, ranging from a mild skin rash, which can occur just from contact to severe reactions including convulsions. More serious reactions are likely to occur with ingestion. Below is a list of common house plants that can be toxic to your dog.
The safest approach is to keep all plants up and out of reach of your dog. If the plants are not poisonous then you do not have to worry about hiding them.
Outdoor shrubs and plants
Apartment complexes have a variety of outdoor plants and shrubs, including the azalea, that could harm your dog if eaten. Remembering all the safe and toxic plants is next to impossible. The smart thing to do is keep your dog away from all outdoor plants and shrubs.
#6. Stay on Your Landlords Good Side
The first and foremost reason to puppy-proof your apartment is to ensure that your dog doesn’t hurt himself. The other reason is to keep you from being chewed out of your home.
You may have heard that if you teach your dog what to chew and what not to chew, and if you provide him with chews and toys, your apartment won’t be destroyed. Although this is solid advice, but it doesn’t always work. Modern dog owners, with their typically busy schedules, usually aren’t with the puppy long enough to provide consistent training. You could literally fill your apartment with all the chew toys in the world and still come home to a chewed up bathroom door or kitchen wall.
Your goal as a new puppy owner
Puppies feel the need to chew for many reasons. Either they are teething, bored, anxious, or a combination of all three. Your goal while you have a new dog is to keep common puppy targets away from the dog instead of trying to keep the dog away from targets. The philosophy behind this approach is that a dog who never learns to chew forbidden items, especially during the adjustment period and while he’s teething, is less likely to chew them later in life. He will be in the habit of chewing the things you want him to chew opposed to the things you don’t. You have to make it difficult for your dog to get into trouble.
Teething puppies need to chew!
Be sure to leave your dog, especially puppies that are teething, several safe chew toys and a few sturdy toys. And, for a soothing, special treat for teething puppies with sore gums, try frozen baby carrots. Our adult dogs love carrots to this day. We credit that to the baby carrots we gave to them as puppies.