Puppy-Proofing Your House and Yard

During housebreaking, you may need to confine your dog or puppy in the house or leave him out in your yard to be sure he doesn't have accidents when he's unsupervised. To keep your dog safe when he's on his own, you'll need to do some puppy-proofing. Puppy-proofing is the process of viewing your surroundings from your puppy's point of view so you can predict and prevent destructive or unsafe behaviors that could put your dog (and your belongings!) at risk. Here are some free dog training tips to help you with this task.

Indoor Puppy Proofing

We need to be sure that if your dog is indoors, he can't eat anything that will harm him. We also need to be sure he can't hurt himself by chewing on electrical wires or by knocking a heavy object or piece of furniture over on himself. Here are some tips for making your puppy's indoor area safe - and as indestructible as possible!

  • Try to keep the dog in an area with flooring that's easy to clean and hard to destroy. Tile, brick, linoleum or wood floors are preferable to carpet.
  • Pick up all area rugs until your dog is housebroken and he's been taught not to chew on stuff that isn't his!
  • If your dog's in an exercise pen that needs to be in a carpeted area, buy a linoleum remnant at a flooring store and use it as flooring in his exercise pen. Be sure the edges of the linoleum extend beyond the edges of the exercise pen on all sides so he can't chew them.
  • Remove valuable and irresistible items from your puppy's confinement area. Don't leave your wallet, photo albums, electronics or other expensive items where he can eat them. Be sure to remove from the area all shoes, pillows, boxes of tissue, rolls of toilet paper and paper towels, and other things your dog would love to chew.
  • If there are electrical cords that your dog can reach, either unplug the cords and put them up high enough that he can't reach them or block the area with an exercise pen or other barrier so he can't get to them.
  • Doors, baseboards and cabinet corners are prime chewing targets, so be sure to block your dog's access to them or treat them with Boundary or another anti-chewing product.
  • Don't assume your puppy can't open doors or cabinets. Keep toxic supplies out of cabinets that your dog can reach, and use baby-proofing locks on cabinets, doors and your refrigerator, if needed.
  • Leave plenty of safe chew bones and toys to keep your puppy occupied so he'll be less likely to chew items that aren't his.
  • Be sure there's nothing up high that can fall if your dog bumps a piece of furniture. If he bumps into a table and a heavy vase or a TV falls, he can get hurt and your stuff can, too!

Outdoor Puppy-Proofing

If your dog is outdoors, we need to make sure your yard is escape-proof and we need to make sure he can't hurt himself or destroy anything important. Here are some tips for keeping your puppy and your yard safe and secure.

  • Be sure your fence is high enough that your dog can't get over it. Minimum fence height for medium or large dogs is 6 feet.
  • Walk the perimeter of your yard to be sure there aren't any spaces where your dog can squeeze out. Holes in your fence should be repaired and additional boards or chicken wire should be installed along the fence in areas where your puppy might be able to squeeze out between fence posts. He can squeeze through a space much smaller than you'd think, so if there's any doubt, put up an additional barrier to prevent him from escaping.
  • Be especially careful if you have fencing without a flat edge at the top. Dogs can hang, impale or injure themselves on fence posts or decorative iron work.
  • If you're concerned that your dog might dig out under the fence, put paver stones or concrete along the base of the fence to make it more difficult for him to escape.
  • Be sure all gates have hardware that makes them self-closing gates so they can't accidentally be left open. Consider installing locks on the gates so they can't be opened by anyone but family members. Gardeners or utility company workers that have access to your yard should be made aware that you have a dog. If possible, accompany them into the yard to make sure they don't accidentally let the dog out.
  • Check to be sure your dog can't get into the crawl space under your house. Dogs frequently use this as an escape route.
  • Check the perimeter of your house for exposed wires that your puppy might want to chew. Cable wires and sprinkler wires are apparently quite delicious, so block your dog's access to them or suffer the consequences.
  • Other tasty items, such as garden hoses and outdoor furniture cushions, should be kept out of your dog's reach until he's proven himself to be a responsible guy.
  • Be sure there are no toxic plants that your puppy might be tempted to nibble on. You can find a list of plants that are toxic to dogs HERE.
  • If you have a pool, be careful... dogs can and do drown in backyard pools. Be sure there's a fence to prevent your dog from getting to the pool, or work with a dog trainer experienced in teaching pool safety to dogs.
  • If you're not able to puppy-proof your entire yard or if you have a destructive dog that might eat something dangerous in your yard, consider buying or creating a dog run. You can buy a chain-link dog run, or fence off a narrow side yard, to make a safe outdoor confinement area for your dog.

Purchase Supplies Related to This Article

Cord Protector

This cord protector has repellent to discourage your dog from chewing and provides some physical protection from those little puppy teeth. It won't make the cord chew-proof, but it may slow your pup down enough that you'll have a chance of stopping him before he chews all the way through!

Boundary Repellent Spray

Repellent sprays don't work for all dogs, but in many cases, they'll keep your dog away from forbidden areas and objects. For best results, be sure to re-apply daily in the early stages of training.

Cabinet Locks

Keep your pup and your stuff safe! These cabinet locks are great for keeping your nosy pup from discovering your Cheerios... or worse, your cleaning supplies!

Refrigerator/Cabinet Lock

If you have a clever dog that's figured out he can open the fridge for an all-you-can-eat buffet, these appliance locks will save the day... and your dinner!

Yak Milk Chew

Yak Milk Chews sound weird, but dogs tell me they're GREAT! These surprisingly long-lasting chew bones are the perfect choice for keeping your pup happy and busy!

Deer Antler Chew

Antler Chews are hard, long-lasting chews that most dogs love. An appropriate choice for dogs whose sensitive tummies can't handle other chews like rawhides and bully sticks.

Self-Closing Gate Hardware

You never know when someone will put your dog at risk by accidentally leaving your gate open. Install this gate hardware to prevent escapes and keep your dog safely at home!

Outdoor Dog Run

This dog run is a safe outdoor hangout for dogs who don't have fenced yards or who aren't ready to have unsupervised access to the whole yard. Remember to be sure your dog has some shade and a water bowl!

Bully Sticks

If you're looking for a tasty, long-lasting chew for your dog, Bully Sticks are a perfect choice... and these multi-packs are a great deal!

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