This is a comprehensive guide to dog proofing your home and I hope it will help you through this dark time of exasperation. I’ve got lots of suggestions, but they all rest on two essential principles. If you embrace these two things, you’ll succeed in the battle of wills it takes to outsmart your dog and secure your home.
- Find advice from the experts; and
- Think like a dog.
Dog training, proofing, and behavior modifications are ongoing endeavors. So are the frequent safety checks you must make of your home. If you’re diligent and embrace this as part of your life with a dog, you won’t stress out and it will become second nature.
I happen to have both of the essential principles covered here. Scout was kind enough to lend some of his advice along with my own experience and research on how to dog proof your home. You can trust Scout’s dog’s eye view.
Knowing The Dog You’re Proofing For
If you know the specific dog and their behavior you can more easily proof your home, but even if you don’t the breed of dog (if you’re planning on getting a rescue for instance) can give you some idea of what you’re in for. A lab-rottweiler mix for instance by its nature is a bigger chewer than a golden retriever.
If you’re still in the stage of choosing a dog breed and are looking ahead to dog proofing, you should also consider that some apartments and renters restrict certain dogs by breed and weight. See our full article on this linked here.
Puppy Proofing Checklist: The Big, Step-By Step Guide
To get you started or as a checklist for how you’re doing, I’ve gathered some common things in your home that need puppy proofing. Luckily for all of us, I just had a hands-on refresher course. I spent two weeks dog sitting an adorable 3 month old Shih Tzu puppy, Bella.
In many ways, this is a list of things that Bella wanted to destroy.
Most of the items in my list are puppy based tips, but they’re great things to consider when bringing any new dog home.
In addition to these house proofing tips, I also encourage you to check out the gear we recommend for day 1 with your pup. You don’t need everything right away, but you will need the essentials!
Puppy Proofing Inside Your Home
Puppy proofing furniture and puppy proofing electrical cords are two main concerns for both the safety of your dog and the safety of your stuff. Unfortunately, the list of indoor puppy proofing is longer than just those two top concerns.
For starters, I recommend that you purchase a dog crate and crate train your dog. You don’t have to stick with it forever, but it really helps while training puppies. It can also help older dogs feel secure in a new home. Read more about how to pick the right size crate for your dog here.
- Coffee tables and end tables
- The sofa
- Chair and sofa legs
- Window blinds
- Baby gates, pet gates, and barriers: use them!
- Trash Cans
- Electrical Cords
- Litter Boxes (If you have a cat)
- Foods That Dogs can Get Into
- Cupboards; and
- Miscellaneous areas under the furniture
Block attractive areas like corners with barriers or furniture and pick up a chew deterrent spray.
Observe your puppy in corners and stop any digging or chewing on the carpet. Try small area rugs or even carpet remnants to cover spots your dog is too interested in. It will often distract them.
Coffee tables and end tables
These pieces of furniture are down at dog level and sometimes have tiers or nooks that are fun for dogs to crawl onto or into. Use your chew deterrent spray and consider stuffing those shelves with sturdy, chew proof objects to block access. You can also turn end tables around so open storage space faces the wall until your puppy is older.
If your dog is going through a chew phase because they’re a puppy and are teething, you may want to consider a specific toy for teething puppies.
Pick up a washable blanket or furniture cover and gently reprimand and distract your dog if she chews or digs on it. Eventually, your training should take hold and she’ll stop. If not, you’ll still be glad for the cover for extra protection.
Chair and sofa legs
These two are perfect candidates for bitter apple spray or another chew deterrent. I once wrapped twine around chair legs to protect them from chewing. It wasn’t beautiful, but it worked!
While it’s good to research all of the plants in your home to identify safe ones versus toxic plants for dogs, I say keep all plants out of reach. Be on the lookout for anything like a table runner that your dog could use to pull a heavy planter down on themselves, too.
Tuck those cords up the same as you would with a baby. Simply pull the blinds up and out of your puppy’s reach or use your chew-away spray.
Paint: the paint in your home could be very toxic to your dog and it can be hard to keep them from chewing. Use a creative combination of blocking areas where paint may chip or looks good to gnaw on and your spray.
Table corners can be super attractive for chewing. Look to the baby products for corner guards to help. You should continue to deter your dog from chewing so you can eventually remove the guards.
Baby gates, pet gates, and barriers
Use them! You do want to spend lots of time with your new puppy but you don’t have to let them have the run of the house. Keeping new dogs and puppies in an uncarpeted area of your home can be helpful during potty training. Just be sure there is some way for the dog to get traction on the floor like an area rug or large dog bed.
Trash is one of the things a lot of dogs are drawn to because of the mix of smells and food that often ends up there. For this, the best thing you can do is to buy a dog-proof trash can made for this purpose.
Understanding how to dog-proof electrical cords is essential even if your puppy isn’t trying to chew them yet. You can purchase some cord protectors, chew-proof pvc tube, or make your own cord covers by splitting aquarium or split loom tubing with a utility knife. Pop the cords inside.
Litter Boxes & Other Pets In General
If you have a cat, the litter box is also a likely target your dog may try to get into. Read our guide on Dog-Proof Litter Boxes for more on what you can do here.
Foods That are Bad for Dogs
This is a big one. Dogs love to get into all sorts of food. However a lot of human foods are actually bad for dogs. The biggest thing you can do here is to make sure you’re putting away things that might tempt your dog like chicken bones and meat in particular.
Can be secured with childproof latches to keep dogs out. This may also help if your dog wants to chew on the open door.
Miscellaneous areas under furniture
Ever thought about that spot under your dresser? Your puppy will find it and potentially refuse to come out. I recommend just blocking these areas will rolled up blankets or something similar. Then you don’t have to be constantly vigilant.
Protecting the Dog’s Things
In addition to protecting you own things, when dog proofing, it’s important to think about protecting the dog’s things too.
Think About A Raised Dog Bed
One of the best ways to protect things like dog beds and the ‘dog’s corner’ from becoming filthy on the floor is to get a raised dog bed. These keep the bed itself cleaner, and allow for sweeping underneath.
Dog Mats for Feeding
Similar to raising the dog’s bed, placing a good mat underneath the dog’s feeding station (dog bowl and water) will protect from drops, and allow easier cleaning.
Dog Wipes Are Your Best Friend
Even with a raised dog bed and good dog mat, your dog will bring in mud and dirt and water from when it rains..
If you’re set on protecting your house and dog’s health (especially in cities, dog’s can traipse in a lot of common dog illnesses like Giardia), dog wipes will become your best friend. They can be used to clean things quickly and safely on your dog itself, and are the most effective way to keep your dog’s paws clean.
For more on keeping your dog clean, we recommend our full guide on the Best Dog Bath Time Products for your pup.
Defining the Dog’s Space
Especially when you first bring your new dog home, defining their space will be important. We recommend adjustable indoor pens or a good puppy play pen, and a good crate so they have a place they know is theirs.
Be Ready With The Cleaning Supplies
No matter how well you dog proof your home, you will at some point need to clean up messes. For this we recommend checking out our Guide to the must-Have Cleaning Products for a Dog-Friendly Homes, and also the guide to natural cleaning products for Dog Owners.
Monitoring & Keeping Track Of Your Dog
Hand in hand with dog proofing your house is making sure you’re always aware of your dog’s safety and whereabouts. Especially if you plan on leaving your dog alone while you’re out.
With modern technology, tools like doggy monitoring cameras and dog GPS systems can help you make sure you’re always able to check in with your pup so that you know where they are and that they’re safe. We recommend checking out our full guide on doggy monitoring cameras, and dog GPS trackers.
Automations For Your Dog
While in the phase of getting your home ready for a dog, you may also want to think about getting some automated help to keep your dog well taken care of. Things like automatic dog feeders and automatic water dispensers can help regulate how much your dog eats, when they eat, and help you make sure you’re hitting feeding times and that the dog always has fresh water.
Dog Proofing Your Yard
Your dog proofing efforts can’t stop inside the house, however. You also have the outside to consider.
I’m of the personal opinion that dogs will chew leaves, sticks, and sometimes dirt and that it’s ok to let dogs be dogs. That being said, however, you want to remove some dangerous temptations outside your home.
Also, every dog is different. While most dogs will chew sticks, some want to eat them. If you notice that your dog likes to eat things like that, you do want to discourage that behavior to avoid potential complications like bowel obstructions.
Checklist for dog proofing your yard:
- Sticks, rocks, and natural debris
- Toxic Materials
Sticks, Rocks, And Natural Debris
To face this challenge, I suggest you first analyze your dog. That requires outdoor supervision for a month or so after bringing your dog home. This period may last longer if you bought home a puppy.
Watch how your dog interacts with normal outdoor objects. If your dog is eating them, redirect the dog and remove the stick or rock. This may require a daily sweep of your yard, but it’s worth it.
Yeah… dog lovers know this inconvenient truth: dogs will eat poo. They’ll often eat their own or that left behind by other animals. This is unsafe. If your dog eats its own feces, it’s actually no big deal. If they eat the feces of other animals, however, that could cause problems.
Dogs Who Eat Their Own Stool
Here is some disgusting trivia for you about dogs who eat their own poo! If you live with a poo eater, you may find this comforting.
The condition is common enough to have a name. It’s called coprophagia.
Coprophagia could be a sign of medical conditions ranging from nutritional or enzyme deficiencies to diabetes. If your dog engages in this behavior, let your vet know.
It’s unlikely that your dog will get seriously ill from eating his poop, however. After all, they clean themselves and expose themselves to the same bacteria. Your dog may do it because he is bored, because of instinct to keep the den clean, or because he learned it from a parent or litter mate.
Once your vet advises you about any related medical conditions, you can discourage this behavior through proper potty training, regularly cleaning the yard, and using products to deter coprophagia.
Hard to imagine that’s difficult, huh?
Dogs That Eat Other Animals’ Stool
Your dog can get sick from eating another animal’s feces if parasites or toxins are present. Therefore, keep your eyes peeled for different sorts of poo when you clean out your yard. If you suspect your dog ate someone else’s poo, call your vet and let her know.
Your vet may want to see a photo or get a sample of what your dog ate so they can test or identify it.
It is tempting to relax your vigilance in a fenced in yard, but you must remember to check the fence itself. Dogs can dig under fences. They also climb over them in amazing feats that boggle the mind.
Even if your dog isn’t an escape artist, another dog could find its way into your yard or pen and that’s potentially dangerous.
If your dog digs at the fence, you can reinforce the bottom with concrete or try something like Dig Defence for easy installation. There are lots of DIY ways to dog proof a fence on Pinterest and YouTube, too.
We also recommend looking into Wireless fences or Invisible Fences to see if this is the rout you want to go.
One good way also to connect your house with your yard and let your dog go in and out securely is with an Electronic or Automatic Dog Door.
Your yard and your garage pose some toxicity threats as well. You can’t anticipate everything, but here are some common materials to be on the lookout for.
Make sure any pesticides or grass stimulators you use are completely pet safe. Research online, talk to your lawn maintenance team, and don’t use something that could put your pet at risk.
Antifreeze is especially attractive to some pets and lethal. Make sure it is up and out of site. If any spills on the ground, flush extensively before giving your dog access to the space. The same goes for any automotive fluids just to be on the safe side.
Decorative plants are lovely in your yard, but it’s smart to research whether they are toxic to dogs. The ASPCA has a helpful list of toxic and non-toxic plants that you can consult.
Some common toxic plants include:
- Lily of the Valley; and
- Asparagus Fern
The Final Sweep
After you walk through the checklist and guidelines for dog proofing indoors and out, you can do a final sweep. You’ll continue to make adjustments as you watch your dog interact with their environment. For the moment, however, your dog proofing agenda will be complete.
This part is best turned over to Spot since he has the dog’s eye view.
Get Down At Dog Level With Spot
How to think like a dog? I’m so glad you asked! It’s been awhile since I was a puppy, but I can tell you that I loved nooks and crannies at that age.
I’d find them anywhere and crawl up in there. Sometimes, they’d be great for chewing. My advice to you dog loving humans is to use your hands to feel baseboards, kitchen cabinets, and furniture to be sure your pup isn’t chewing in secret spots.
We can be a little sneaky when we really want to get our gnaw on. Join us on the floor to see things from our perspective. It could really help.
I also went through a phase where I ate and dug at all of the carpet in the corners of the room. It came on suddenly, and my humans were surprised. They didn’t catch me right away… so we got a new carpet.
It was a better color anyway.
Point is, your dog or puppy may suddenly start eating something they never ate before. If things seem too quiet or your dog vanishes, follow their scent and see what they’re up to. This is how you really stay on top of our puppy urges.
You know, I even knew a Fox Terrier who ate a knitting needle once. Nobody realized it for weeks. When she finally got to the vet, the needle was breaking down in her stomach already. A Dalmatian I know had a thing for cash money and little rubber bouncy balls. Ate ‘em all the time, she did.
We’re incredible, aren’t we? So while your dog might get an exotic taste for something weird, their bodies will do whatever they can to recover. Don’t panic, scoop your fur friend up and get to the vet. You’re the one who can drive.
Now, if you’ll excuse me- I see a ball over there and I’ve got the itch. Best of luck!
I suggest performing a formal check of all these safety concerns once a month at the least. I’m particularly edgy about protecting cords since that can be a very dangerous situation and not one I want to risk.
A Shopping Guide To Dog Proofing Your Home
You may as well take any help you can get in the cold war of dog proofing your home. Every house is different so you may need additional things in your arsenal.
Here is a list of basic helpful products made to block, deter, or repel your dog. Some of them are pretty clever!
- dog crate
- chew deterrent / bitter apple spray
- furniture covers
- stain guard spray
- potty training supplies
- window blind cord protectors
- corner guards
- pet gates or pens
- electrical cord covers, chew-proof PVC tube, aquarium tubing or split loom tubing
- coprophagia Prevention
- Dig Defence
For more ideas about the perfect shopping list for a new dog, check out my article here.
You can save money by finding your own solutions to some of these problems but there may come a time you just want to make it easier. I think there’s no shame in that!
Keep Your Home And Your Dog Protected
In many ways, your dog is your baby. You’re in charge and they can’t all totally be trusted. While it may seem frustrating at times to keep up with the destruction your dog seems bent on unleashing, it’s necessary.
Caring for your dog through some vigilance and attention is a good way to bond with your dog and also reinforce your training tactics overall. It may not be easy to get your dog to listen to you but every time you do you’re strengthening your authority in the relationship.
Your dog will actually appreciate you for this! You’ll appreciate it in the long run too. A well trained dog is a better companion whose good behavior allows the most time possible spent with the family.
So don’t give up! Most dogs give up chewing and digging behavior indoors by the time they’re grown up. Even the stool eaters and they’re clearly not quite right.
So what’s the craziest spot your dog ever got into in your home or yard? I can’t wait to hear all about it.
Know someone who could use a mega puppy proofing checklist? Please pass this along to them! There’s always room in the Scout Knows family for another dog lover.