The new pet owner’s guide to puppy-proofing a home

Puppies are energetic, curious, and filled with mischief. While these are lovable traits, new owners are often surprised by the trouble their new pet can cause.

This is why puppy proofing your home is vital. A young dog doesn’t know which items are dangerous or off limits, so it’s your responsibility to keep them safe.

Effective puppy proofing also sets your dog up for success. Your home should be a positive environment for your pet, not a place to constantly be told “no” or corrected.

With this in mind, here’s a five-step process for puppy proofing your home.

Step 1: Understand Your Puppy WILL Chew Anything They Find

Anything within reach is fair game for a puppy – especially when they are teething. You need to be proactive and remove anything you don’t want your pet to chew.

Puppy chewing on shoe

Start by getting a “puppy’s eye” view. Yes, that means getting on your hands and knees! Crawling around your home can highlight chewable wires or other dangerous objects you may have missed.

Small objects are probably the most important to remove. Anything your puppy could swallow, including jewelry, toys, coins and electronics, should be out of reach.

Furniture or cupboard corners are popular targets for puppies. If you don’t want your furniture ruined, either protect corners or use a spray to dissuade chewing.

Step 2: Prepare the Kitchen and Bathroom

The kitchen and bathroom are dangerous rooms for pets. Both contain potentially dangerous chemicals, including cleaning products, bleaches, shampoo and detergents. Razors and pills can also be hazardous for an inquisitive pet. Even the toilet bowl is a potential drowning hazard for a small puppy.

For this reason, do a full audit of the bathroom and kitchen. Do any of the cupboards not close properly? Are there dangerous household products your puppy could access? Do the bins have a puppy-proof lid? As always, assume your puppy will chew or play with anything – even if it doesn’t look “fun.”

It’s often a good idea to use a “two door” policy for dangerous chemicals, such as bleach or detergent. It’s easy to accidentally leave a door open, so hazardous products should be hidden in cupboards or at least on a high shelf – even if you don’t plan to let your dog in the room. Safety latches can provide added security.

Step 3: Declutter the Living Room

The living room may not contain dangerous chemicals, but there are still plenty of hazards.

Cords are one of the most obvious dangers. These should be hidden out of reach – particularly when your pet is teething.

Electronics, such as iPads and mobile phones, can also be attractive chewing targets. Make sure these are inaccessible at all times. Aside from being potential choke hazards, no-one wants their $500 phone used as a puppy chew toy!

Step 4: Don’t Forget the Bedroom

Dogs are drawn to their owners’ scent, which is why many love spending time in the bedroom. For this reason, make sure all small items – including jewelry, coins and hair clips – are out of reach.

You should also avoid putting slippers, clothing and other soft items on the floor. The combination of your scent and fluffy texture make these irresistible for many puppies.

Step 5: Puppy Proof Your Garden or Yard

The first thing to check is that your garden is fully enclosed. Puppies are naturally inquisitive and don’t respect property boundaries, so it’s vital they can’t escape. If you’re not sure whether your yard is escape proof, never leave your pet outside unattended.

Stones and pebbles are often overlooked. Young dogs like to chew on stones, which can be a choking hazard, so you may want to restrict your pet to patios and lawns.

There are also many plants that are potentially dangerous to dogs. Common examples are lupine and daffodils. While removing all of these plants may not be possible, it’s important to be aware of them.

On a similar note, check your house plants aren’t toxic. The ASPCA provides a useful list of toxic indoor and outdoor plants here.

Other Tips

Puppies can find trouble in unexpected places, so you should always be vigilant. Here are some extra tips for puppy proofing:

  • Never give an unsupervised puppy freedom in your home. Puppies can cause trouble in an instant – especially if they are given freedom to roam the house. Instead, confine the puppy to a crate, play pen or specific room when you’re not able to supervise.
  • Cover plug sockets. Electrical outlets can be a potential chewing target. Use blank covers on all unused sockets to reduce the risks.
  • Install gates between rooms. An easy way to restrict a puppy’s movement is with baby gates. It’s much easier to puppy proof a single room than an entire house.
  • Provide plenty of chew toys. While you should assume puppies will chew anything, toys can reduce the focus on your furniture and other possessions. Chew toys with squeakers or interesting textures are particularly useful.
  • Be aware of heavy items that could fall. Puppies love to play tug of war. This can be dangerous if they pull something that could fall. A good example is a tablecloth, which could bring down heavy plates.
  • Always ensure your pet has access to water. Check the water bowl is accessible whenever you confine your pet to a crate, play pen or room. If your puppy forgets to drink enough, which is surprisingly common for energetic young dogs, you may want to consider a water fountain.


Puppies are naturally curious and energetic. They also lack the danger-awareness of mature dogs. For this reason, it’s your responsibility to ensure your home is “puppy proof.”

While puppy proofing takes time and effort, it makes those first few weeks much less stressful. You also don’t need to keep it up forever. As your puppy gets older, he’ll become calmer and more aware of his surroundings.

Until then, however, treat everything in your home as a potential chewing target for your puppy. It’s better to be safe than sorry!


This is a guest article by Richard Cross at

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