6 Tips to Keep Your Puppy Safe

One look in a puppy's eyes, one sniff of puppy breath, one hug of that soft, fuzzy, wiggling body—and we're smitten.

Unfortunately, though, if you have a new puppy in your home you need to stiffen your spine and ignore at least some of your puppy's charms. Puppies have no idea what is dangerous and what isn't—and it's your job to protect these adorable beings. Thankfully, though, with some organization keeping your puppy safe doesn't have to be difficult.

Puppy Proof the Home and Yard

Puppy proofing your home and yard means identifying any dangers to your puppy and making sure he's safe from those dangers. For example, in the house tuck away or move dangling wires, put chargers out of reach, close bedroom and bathroom doors, and make sure the puppy can't reach into trash cans. In the backyard, look at your fence with your puppy in mind. Are they any puppy-sized holes in or under the fence? Can your puppy reach the wiring to the hot tub or sprinkler system? Are yard care tools or chemicals within reach? Both inside and out, look at things from your puppy's viewpoint. Get down on your hands and knees if you need to so you can see everything. Then, remember—prevention is everything because puppies are fast. All it takes is a moment of letting your guard down for a puppy to get into trouble.

Restrict the Puppy's Freedom

Don't bring home your puppy and just turn him loose in the house and yard. Even with a well puppy-proofed home and yard, there are too many dangers. Your puppy could chase the family cat, get underfoot while you are cooking, or chew on your favorite plants outside. In addition, housetraining is much easier if the puppy isn't running wild inside and out. Preventing bad behaviors so you can teach good habits is also easier when the puppy's freedom is restricted. Ideally, keep your puppy in the same room where you are. If you're busy and moving around the house, leash the puppy and keep him with you or put him in a safe place.
puppy ©istockphoto/Smitt

Baby Gates and Exercise Pens

Baby gates, both those made for human babies or those created for puppies, can close off the hallway or certain rooms. This allows you to restrict your puppy's freedom while enabling people to come and go as they wish. Exercise pens are portable, folding fences made for containing pets. They are usually made of six to eight sections that are two feet wide. The height can vary from 24, 30, or 36 inches tall. Some are even taller. Think of an exercise pen as the equivalent of a playpen for human toddlers. A puppy can have a safe place of his own. A few toys to play with will keep him amused while he's safe and out from underfoot. Puppies needs to be taught that climbing the baby gates or exercise pen is not allowed. After all, he has no idea that being restricted to certain areas is for his safety. He just wants to follow you or play with everything he sees.

Your Puppy's Crate

The crate can be a wonderful training tool when used wisely. Your puppy can spend his night in the crate, hopefully in the bedroom close to you, but be safely contained. He learns to control his bowels and bladder, and is also prevented from getting into trouble. He's not chasing the cat or chewing on your shoes. He can also spend a little bit of time in his crate during the day. If you run to the grocery store, let him remain in the crate for an hour or so. The puppy, however, should not spend all night in the crate and then all day while you're at work. That is much too much time in the crate. Instead, let him spend the day in the exercise pen, with a bed, toys, unspillable water, and some potty pads. Come home at lunch if you can to take the puppy outside, feed him, and play with him.
puppy ©istockphoto/onetouchspark

The Leash is Not Just for Walks

Your puppy's leash is going to be a huge part of his life so go ahead and introduce it early. When you can, let your puppy wear his leash when he's with you. You can hold the handle and encourage your puppy to follow you as you move around the house. He learns to walk on the leash as well as to follow you but at the same time, with the a leash you can restrict his movements should he try to get into something he shouldn't. When he's following you nicely, then let him drag the leash behind him. You can always grab it should he decide to wander off. Do the same thing outside, too. Hold on to the leash, even just tuck the handle in your pocket, as you do some yard chores. The lessons he's learning in the house while on leash apply outside, too.

Think Safety

The goal of all of these tips is to help keep your puppy safe. When he's protected from his own puppy shenanigans as well the dangers of the world around him, then he can grow up strong and healthy.
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