When considering the safety of puppies in our homes, it can be helpful to think of them in terms similar to the ones we might use for toddlers. Puppies are generally as insatiably curious as little humans. They use all of their senses – including taste – to explore every nook and cranny that they can discover in their environment. For this reason, we have two recourses if we wish to insure that they’re kept safe: (1) Supervise them as often as possible, and (2) Be certain that they have no access to dangers around the house when we’re not able to watch them.
Chemical cleaners and medications of every kind should always be kept out of reach. This means that they’re either stored somewhere higher than a grown dog could jump to or else behind cabinet doors that can’t be pried open. The plastic catches used to “baby-proof” one’s home work well to deter puppies, also. Keep in mind that many products that seem innocuous – like toothpaste, soap, mouthwash, and other things used for personal hygiene – are poisonous to dogs. Puppies will generally not be aware of whether or not something is safe to ingest until it’s too late.
Of course, puppies don’t only chew and swallow items that resemble food, either. They’re often anxious to test out the strength of their budding teeth on tablecloths, drapes, electrical wires, and various valuables of ours. Inevitably, they have to be confined somehow. A kitchen or other area can provide them with sufficient roaming space if it’s closed off from the rest of the house with a baby or pet gate (similar products are marketed under both names). If no room is suitable, you might consider purchasing or building an exercise pen.
The closed off room or exercise pen is the place to put puppies’ food and water bowls (preferably, on a waterproof mat). Ideal bowls will either be weighted at their bottoms or otherwise slip resistant. Raised stands might be helpful (down the road) for large dogs so that they don’t have to stoop so low to eat and drink.
Puppies instinctively crave a personal and snug den in which to retire at night – and even at various intervals throughout the day. Open wire or closed fiberglass crates both provide this private space. They needn’t be large. If a puppy can stand, turn, and then lie back down within a crate then it’s of sufficient size. Crates should be set somewhere away from air conditioners, heat sources, and direct sunlight.
Toys can provide puppies with an outlet for some of their excess energy. There’s a wide variety of toys to choose from: items that can be retrieved, pushed, bitten, nosed, and chewed. Rawhides and rope toys work well for puppies that like to use their jaws and teeth. Consider buying several different toys and then rotating them every few days for the sake of variety. Again, puppies don’t usually know what’s safe to swallow, though, so watch them in the beginning until you know how they behave with certain toys.
Before buying or adopting a puppy, educate yourself on the local laws concerning keeping dogs – particularly in regards to leashes, licenses, and tags. The city or town
Canine Control Officer should be able to provide you with this information. Tags are usually required for dogs 6 months of age and older. They must be affixed to a regular collar. Alternatives include tattoos, which are usually placed on a dog’s inside thigh and only remain visible if the area is kept shaved, and microchip implants that require special devices for reading them. Consider your puppy’s comfort when buying a color and leash; you don’t want to weight the poor animal down. Of course, being conscientious means that what you buy now will have to be replaced in a few short months.