Did you adopt a furry family member during Covid? If so, you’re not alone.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), over 23 million American households, nearly 1 in 5 nationwide, adopted a pet during the pandemic. That includes the White House who welcomed a german shepherd puppy named Commander just a few months ago.
Like every new dog owner, the joy of having a dog can be tempered by the trouble they can get into. And if you’re simultaneously a new pet owner and a new homeowner, keeping your dog happy and safe — while keeping the house from becoming a warzone — is simple to do as long as you follow these tips. Let’s get started.
Pet-proof your home, room by room.
In your eyes, your new home is your dream house — designed and furnished just the way you like it. Your dog sees it differently. It’s a playground of things to chew, tear apart and drool on. The coffee table you love could become a chew toy. The new rug makes for a great place to vomit. And those drapes are perfect for a great game of tug of war.
So let’s go room by room with some pet-proofing ideas.
The kitchen is way too tempting!
The smell of meals being prepared and the chance you (or your kids) will drop food on the floor will make the kitchen a favorite destination for your pooch. But the kitchen is also filled with super-hot oven surfaces, foods that could be poisonous to dogs and — occasionally — broken dishes and glassware. It’s best to keep dogs out of the kitchen when you’re cooking and allow them in only when it’s time for them to eat or drink.
That’s not easy to do if you live in a home with an open floorplan, but think of it as baby-proofing your home. You’ve probably already outfitted your home with baby-proofing paraphernalia if you have small kids.
For the uninitiated, try to gate off the area that poses the most risk and keep lids tight on garbage and recycling bins. The most effective solution is an under-the-counter pull-out trashcan, but a sturdy metal trashcan with a step-on top works just as well.
Keep dishwasher doors closed and use childproof locks to shut cabinets tight. Never leave dangerous kitchen supplies like food processor blades where dogs can get at them (big dogs can easily reach countertops) and store cleaning supplies on a high shelf.
Bedrooms are for sleeping, not chewing!
If this is your first time being a pet parent, you’ll soon learn that it pays to be tidy. The cost of replacing a cashmere sweater, leather purse, or pair of running shoes quickly adds up. Clutter is your enemy, so keep your cherished items from being destroyed by picking up after yourself.
Your dog loves you and your smell, so take the dirty clothes scattered on the bedroom floor and place them in a hamper with a tight lid. And keep the doors to the clothes closet firmly shut. There are too many enticing things to get into in there.
If you’re like us and go to sleep after one last look on your mobile device, remember to place it on a nightstand before turning out the light. Leaving it on the floor is an open invitation to be mistaken for a chew toy. The same holds true for designer eyeglasses and expensive skin lotions which might be devoured by morning and could leave you with hefty vet bills by afternoon.
Most importantly, consider getting a crate if your dog sleeps in the bedroom. Crate training is the best and easiest way to keep your pup out of trouble overnight and when you aren’t home. It may feel mean at first — your dog’s puppy eyes will attest to that — but you’ll appreciate returning home without finding the furniture destroyed. Fill your dog crate with a comfy dog bed and a dirty t-shirt or socks that smell like you. It’ll be home to them in no time.
Cuddles happen in the family room!
If your living room is where the family hangs most, your dog will probably think of it as her room, which she graciously allows you to use if you cuddle or play with her. But it’s also a minefield of trouble to get into.
Dogs love to chew, so if they destroy stuff — like TV remotes and PlayStation gaming controls — it’s your fault for giving them access to it in the first place. Put those things (like in a box on the coffee table), try to place electrical cords behind furniture to make them inaccessible and get covers for unused electrical outlets.
Another tip is to ensure all indoor plants are non-toxic. And get rid of knick-knacks that could be choking hazards, like stuffed animals, those ubiquitous rattan-woven decorative balls, even books and magazines.
Make the bathroom off-limits!
Letting your dog follow you everywhere you go, including the bathroom, is more than just invading your privacy: it’s opening your pup’s eyes to a whole new world of things to destroy. Some dogs cannot control the impulse to ruin toilet paper rolls or show a wet towel who’s the boss. So it’s best to keep bathroom doors locked when not in use.
If that’s not always possible, remember to put toilet lids down to keep pups from discovering the cold water that’s always available. Place the TP on top of the toilet tank and move cleaning supplies and sponges from behind the toilet to somewhere out of reach.
Never leave your meds out; move them to a high shelf or tucked away safely in the medicine cabinet. And remove bathroom rugs until your pet is housetrained. Dogs aren’t dumb. If they see you peeing there, they’re apt to follow suit.
Garages can be dangerous.
If you use your garage to store things like paint, mouse traps, fertilizer, car oil, wiper fluid and other toxic substances, it’s probably not the best place for your pet to hang out. But if you do use it as a time-out location, or if that’s the main entrance and exit to the house, be sure to have proper ventilation and keep the garage door shut when not in use so they can’t escape.
And if your garage performs double duty with a workbench area, be sure that sharp objects like nails, screws, saw blades and heavy machinery are up and off the floor.
Outside is just as important.
If your pup spends time in the backyard, double-check that it’s safe. Block access to outdoor electrical outlets and cordon off exposed HVAC units. Keep pets (and kids!) inside when using weed or pest control chemicals. Ensure that everything planted in the garden is non-toxic to dogs. And patch holes in the fence to keep your pup from venturing out.
Some dog owners let their pups into the backyard to relieve themselves. If that’s you, make sure you pick up the waste carefully and consistently; otherwise, that stuff could be tracked throughout your home when your pup gets called back inside. Finally, give them a shady and rainproof area to get out of the elements and, if your pet is outside for extended periods, make sure they have plenty of water available (out of the sun).
Dog-proofing is home-proofing
While it’s you who took out the mortgage and pay the monthly bills, it’s your dog’s home, too. Follow the tips above and you’re sure to make it a safe place for all of your pets, filled with plenty of walks, playtime, toys and cuddles.Keep these tips in mind if you’re househunting and are looking for a home that’s perfect for your pet. To get approved, contact a Movement Mortgage Loan Officer in your area. Or start your application online with the Movement Mortgage Easy App.