How to Make Your Home Pet Friendly

For a new dog or puppy, your home and yard is an adventure-filled playground to explore, sniff out and chew. It’s a good idea to scan the following places before bringing your new (or existing) friend home. Double check to make sure you have a safe, dog-proofed environment:

BEDROOMS, LIVING ROOMS AND DENS – There are several things to watch for in these rooms. Electrical cords should be your No. 1 priority as this is a serious danger zone. Chewing through wiring can result in painful burns on the tongue and mouth area. An electrical shock can lead to a pulmonary edema, which is a buildup of fluid on the lungs that can occur very quickly and be fatal. Block off electrical outlets and buy special tubing to encase wires around a computer and related equipment. Beware of candles as well and never place them on a table with a tablecloth.

HOBBY AND CRAFTS CORNERS – Don’t leave anything out, such as string, wool, needles, glues and other utensils. These materials can be fatal if ingested.

THE BATHROOM – Ensure that the toilet seat is always down, especially if you use cleaning materials in the bowl. It is helpful to write notes to remind forgetful family members to keep the seat down. Make sure the toilet paper is rolled up and don’t leave even the tiniest piece hanging because it can be misconstrued as an invitation to chew and swallow! Replace open garbage bins with a pedal-type or swing lid so that your pet doesn’t have access to its contents. Finally, all cosmetics, shampoos, toiletries and cleaning materials should be locked away in a cupboard with a childproof lock. This is essential.

THE KITCHEN AND LAUNDRY – Apart from the same safety measures for garbage and cleaning materials, the biggest change in the food department is to never leave food out on counters! This applies to food ready for preparation, to be served and set aside for leftovers. Certain human foods are toxic to dogs. Note that bones and corncobs are dangerous if ingested.

SHOPPING BAGS – Make sure no shopping bags are left lying around. Even paper bags with rope-style handles can be dangerous if your  pet tries to get inside and gets the handle part caught around his neck.

PATIOS AND GARDENS – Patrol your property line to ensure that there are no visible holes in fences and gates. It’s also essential to see that your gate locks automatically and to remove any visible rusty nails from woodwork. Depending on your dog’s breed, you may have to put down special barriers to prevent him from digging an escape route under a fence or gate. Putting chicken wire below ground along your boundary walls will deter digging in these areas.

THE GARAGE – Chemical fertilizer sprays and anti-freeze products are toxic. Also be wary of putting down poison pellets for bugs because they often resemble treats or kibble.

POND FEATURES – If you have a pond or a garden feature with river stones, you may have to remove them or make the area off limits to prevent ingestion. You can glue stones to netting with superglue.

HOUSEPLANTS – Many common houseplants are toxic to animals. For a detailed list of plants and first aid tips, go to

Editor’s Note: After dog proofing your home, also consider having a few great dog toys accessible to your pet throughout the day. This could be a great way to distract them from getting into something they shouldn’t.

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