July 25, 2012 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Help me puppy-proof my house while creating the ultimate puppy environment for puppy happiness and funtimes!

In about a month's time I will have a NEW PUPPY WHO IS FAT AND ADORABLE and I would like some tips on how to best puppy-proof my house AND make things as awesome as possible for him.

I've owned dogs before but 01) never such a small doggy and 02) never such a young puppy (he'll be about 11 weeks old when I get him eeeeeeeeeeeee).

Right now I have all the obvious things taken care of:

- majority of electrical cords stowed away from gnawy little teeths
- all poisonous cleaning supplies stored behind unpuppyopenable doors
- all delicious-looking but expensive chewy things stored beyond puppy reach
- I have cleared the bottom shelf of all bookshelves so he will have little hidey holes to explore safely
- heavy items have been moved to the back of shelves/tables/etc so they cannot be tipped over by puppy pokings
- all trash cans secured so he can't get into anything that might hurt his fat little tummy

My main concerns are:

- hardwood floors and potty training! aside from Wee-Wee Pads and lots of mopping and Nature's Miracle, is there anything else I should have on hand to prevent major piddle damage?
- crating him while I'm away! once he's housebroken I can bring him with me to the office, but until then, I'll be coming home at lunchtime to spend some time with him. There will be a period of 5 hours in the afternoon when he is home alone. I have never crated a dog before and it seems horrible and weird and mean but I honestly haven't a clue.



posted by elizardbits to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have anything to add about puppy-proofing, my dog is 15 so it's been a while, but I want to reassure you that most dogs LOVE their crates. Mine loved his so much that when I decided he was old and good enough to get rid of it, he would get into the bathtub because it was the thing that most resembled his beloved missing crate.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:42 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just got a puppy a month ago. (Videos in my profile link!) My first puppy ever. Puppies are awesome.

Because I'm gone at work all day, I have him litter box trained (google for tips on this--my breeder started him on it--so far it's been pretty awesome) and in an x-pen instead of a crate. This gives him some room to romp around and use his box at his leisure so he doesn't get stressed out.

Definitely get a soft toy. Sleep with this in your bed for the weeks leading up to when you bring him home so that it'll smell like you. Leave this with him during the day for comfort. You can do the same thing with a blanket.

Decide ahead of time what commands you'll use for training and how you'll be doing it (click training?) so you can be consistent right from the start.

Have a good mix of toys and treats at the ready, but nothing too expensive or in bulk just yet. He might not like it.

Get him used to being poked in places right off the bat. My puppy gets his teeth brushed, ears cleaned, toenails dremel'd, fuzzy bits groomed, etc, often, and I want him to always be comfortable with me doing it. So I regularly play with his ears, poke my fingers around his mouth, play with his little paws, and so forth so he gets used to it.

If I think of anything else, I'll post again. Enjoy your little fuzzball! :)
posted by phunniemee at 4:43 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Congrats on your new addition to the family! I also just got a new puppy who is about 5 months old now. Seems like you have thought of most things, I'll comment on the crate training thing. I am crate training my puppy, and initially it was rough because he did not like the kennnel to the point where he would howl when we crated him at night and at points during the day. However, on the advice of the trainer at puppy class we stuck it out and now he LOVES the kennel to the point where he won't leave the kennel in the morning until he's ready to get up for the day

Its helpful in that he now considers it his safe spot and is quite content to nap and play and eat in the kennel. I have done a lot of travel in the car and camping with him and I bring the kennel along and he is much more comfortable with new environments (i.e the tent) if he has a familar place to go. It also helps it they have to go to the vet overnight and are comfortable with the idea of a crate.

In terms of potty training, I found having treats that Benji only got when he went pee was helpful. Benji also found the electrical cables that we weren't able to get rid of, and we ended up getting some bitter tasting stuff at the pet store to make sure he didn't get electrocuted. Good luck!!
posted by snowysoul at 4:44 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Our dog coaches highly recommend (almost require) two free books to read for getting and raising a puppy: Ian Dunbar's "Before You Get Your Puppy and After You Get Your Puppy". The books contain step-by-step instructions on preparing for and raising your puppy. I really like how Mr. Dunbar identifies which are the most critical tasks to get done. We all have such busy lives that sometimes keeping to a perfect puppy raising schedule is a challenge, so he very accurately provides priorities -and why.

These e-books are being distributed for free downloads by Ian Dunbar/Sirius Training with this commentary: "Please download and email this book to every prospective and new puppy owner that you know in order to help spread the message that Puppyhood is the Time to Rescue Adult Shelter Dogs." This is quite true; most rescue dogs in shelters are high-energy adolescents. Both of our rescue dogs were surrendered as almost-year old dogs to their shelter by owners who were in over their heads. We adore our two mutts, but it's been a real learning process to train and socialize them. It would have taken much less time to have raised them from puppyhood to be well-socialized and trained.

Other than the excellent advice & programs in these two books, I also highly recommend subscribing to the Whole Dog Journal. Subscribers get access to the archives of fantastic training articles written by top-tier, professional dog trainers.
posted by apennington at 4:46 PM on July 25, 2012 [6 favorites]

Oops I forgot photos!!
posted by snowysoul at 4:47 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Crate training is actually excellent for dogs. Since they are descended from wolves, they have that natural den instinct, so when you crate train them, the crate actually ends up being a place of comfort, and a safe place for them to go to. Think less "dog cage" and more "dog's own special house".

On top of that, there is the instinct not to pee where they sleep, so crate training helps housebreaking SO MUCH. They will automatically hold it, then when you get up in the morning or get home from work, you can take them outside very first thing and they should automatically need to go, and you can instantly reward them with a treat. Repeat a few times and they will figure it out. Make sure you use an appropriately sized crate, though, smaller is actually better here, you don't want it to be way bigger than the dog or they will pee in one corner and sleep in the other and the benefit is lost.

If your puppy cries in the crate the first few nights, just let it stay in there and don't reward the crying by letting it out. A heart beat pillow or a blanket over the crate can help them adjust. In a very short time they will love the crate. My dog even sleeps in her during the day, and will whine if the door was closed while she was out of it and wants in. I only close her in at night and when she is home alone (she still likes to eat things that aren't hers or else it would be night time only).

Also, another big piece of advice: don't be afraid to sign up for a puppy preschool training class somewhere. Even long time dog owners can learn new things when it comes to first time puppies.
posted by internet!Hannah at 4:49 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Even long time dog owners can learn new things when it comes to first time puppies.

Yes, I definitely have plans to take him to puppy school! My last dog was a feral podenco (truly feral, not a stray - born in the wild to a wild mom) so most of my dog knowledge is regarding dealing with resource guarding and curbing prey drive and escape artisting and whatnot.
posted by elizardbits at 4:52 PM on July 25, 2012

Ohmygoodness - congrats! I cannot stand the cuteness! I suppose the best way to keep him safe is to snorgle him at all times...

But since you can't, I'll give you my favourite tip for little boy puppies: Fill a 2 litre-size soda bottle with water, and during house-training, put it close to the door on a Wee-wee pad. When he's no longer squatting to pee, he'll likely use that if he's going to have an accidental pee inside. Then you can move it outside where you want him to go, but it should keep him from lifting his leg on a piece of furniture, since boy dogs like something to pee against.

And crating him a little while before you leave, and not rushing to let him out within the very minute you've arrived when you come home, and even sometimes when you're home, will help him not to have "OMG this means the boss is leaving" anxieties about going in.

I'd also suggest to put his food, water and pee pad at the BACK of the crate too, as he will likely rush to greet you at the gate/door, which leads to stepping in all of that if he's excited.

I don't see a mention of his name...do we have a "name this adorable puppy" Ask to look forward to? Or must we beg for you to spill it? And so I am begging!

posted by peagood at 4:58 PM on July 25, 2012

Depending on the layout of your house, you might want to invest in a baby gate or two. You want to be able to contain the dog in the same room as you so you can keep an eye on him, and that can be difficult in some "open floorplan" homes or other weird layouts (like my last place in New Orleans that was missing a bunch of interior doors. I have this one which was pretty easy to put together.

Echoing everything said above about crate training, it's great. My older dog grew up with a bunch of other dogs, so they all were fed in their crates so she learned very quickly that crate=awesome. I say "kennel" and she hops into it. Somehow she managed to teach this to my little rescue too. I suppose giving them each a Milkbone after they get in their crates helps too!

The one things about puppies (well new dogs in general) is that you will have to adjust some of your routines. My rescue likes to chew on things, and destroyed a couple pairs of shoes before I finally got one of those over-the-door shoe racks. So sometimes it's more "train the owner" than "train the dog!"
posted by radioamy at 5:02 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

So adorable. Truly truly cute.

So, crating is good and reassuring, you have lots of good information already about that.

I wonder about a pen area -- you know, the kind you can assemble for kids -- that includes the crate and some safe toys and litter box. Because puppies can't hold it, they just can't, and that's the case at least until they are 6 months old. And puppy shouldn't have to pee/poop in the safe crate.

I love the suggestion above of treats for peeing/pooping in the right place. Positive reinforcement (ideally with a clicker) is always the way to go for training, and extremely effective for toilet training a puppy. You may feel like an idiot praising your puppy to the skies for piddling in the litter box, but it will pay off. Of course you also want to positively reinforce whenever puppy goes outside on walks too.

Remember your puppy's attention span will be a nanosecond long. That's just how they are. So keep training really short as well as positive. But do train!

You probably want to spend time with Karen Pryor's website, where there is tons of great info.

*Big beaming smile* Have fun with Mr. Roly Poly the Cuteness!
posted by bearwife at 5:08 PM on July 25, 2012

We had a month to puppy-proof our house, too. We did everything we could think of doing.

Once the puppy got here, she showed us everything we missed in short order.
posted by jms18 at 5:21 PM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

Crate training is hard at first but great in the end. Two things we learned from our puppy - now dog.

1) She didn't like the small crate - she loves the big crate. I know this opposite what the books suggest and you don't want to give them room to pee 'on the other side of the crate' before they are potty trained...but switching to a larger crate had our dog spending a lot more time in the crate.

2) Treat the dog when you crate them. Also placing random treats in the crate (when they are not in the crate) will help to get them acclimated to the crate. This is only really needed in the early stages as has been suggested above our dog now heads for the crate when they want some "me" time...
posted by NoDef at 6:13 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know how much room you have, but for Bean(on the left) we got something like this and placed it on a tarp in the family room. There was enough room in the pen for the crate on one side of the pen and pee pads on the other. We left the door off the crate so she could leave her crate to pee if she needed to. Until she was potty trained, she pretty much lived in the pen unless she was being supervised. It worked really well. Cake, however, learned how to climb out of the pen within 3 hours. We had to binder-clip a blanket to the top (which made a neat dog-fort).
posted by dogmom at 6:37 PM on July 25, 2012

Best answer: Is that a Frenchie pup?? *squeals*

We crate-trained our Mox, and have had very few accidents in the house. We purchased a 24 fl. oz spray bottle of Nature's Miracle and a a 1 quart refill, and we've never run out. It honestly wasn't all that difficult, and we now have a housebroken 17 month old puppy with no separation anxiety. She hasn't been crated during the day since she was 8 or 9 months and only goes in there to sleep at night. I used this schedule, albeit slightly modified to fit our hours; you can see that you need to be quite involved with the puppy and train/play with it at regular intervals. Besides, puppies sleep a lot! I recommended the schedule to another friend who brought home a puppy 2 months ago, and it's also helped her tremendously. Her now 3 month old lab is currently crated for almost 5 hours in the afternoon, but once she's able to hold her bladder for longer and is done with teething, she is expected to be allowed to roam the kitchen in a month or so. There's also the setup recommended by Ian Dunbar which I might have used if I didn't read The Art of Raising a Puppy first--in the book mentioned above by others, he recommends placing a crate confined to a room with a door you can close or in an exercise pen. Kind of like this, only replace the litterbox with a pee pad.

We got Moxie a bunch of toys, including two soft toys, which she promptly destroyed in two days. She's never had a soft toy since, but plenty of rubber chew toys and antlers. Good luck, I'm so excited for you!!!
posted by peripathetic at 7:07 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

+1 to apennington's excellent book links above, and also +1 that puppies love having their own crate. They don't see it as "doggy cell", they see it as "a safe haven from which to explore". It's their home base.

My parents are serial dog owners who start with an 8-12 week old puppy and provide a loving home until the inevitable happens in doggy old age. Cassie is their latest.

Their approach is to use a puppy bed during the day when someone is around, and to put the puppy into a dog crate like this at night and/or when left alone in the house. When the dogs get older, they don't even need the blanket/padding so much; Cassie prefers to push the blanket aside and lie directly on the cool floor on warm nights. The puppy bed was her favorite place to nap until she became big enough to prefer the couch.

Young puppies less than about six months are going to be serious chewers, have really (fun if supervised) hyper periods, and have much shorter activity cycles compared to older dogs. The whole "get up, bathroom, hungry/thirsty, playtime, bathroom, thirsty, playtime/nap/hyper/nap/playtime, sleepy, dead asleep" cycle was as short as 3-4 hours for the first month or so. See previous question on brand new puppy funtimes.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:57 PM on July 25, 2012

Hardwood floors: Get a spray bottle and make a 30% white vinegar to water mix. Use this to clean up puppy accidents. (And really, to clean your hardwood floors all the time.) Keeps your floors shiny clean and goggies don't like the smell so theoretically they won't go in that spot again.
posted by raisingsand at 8:50 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: FLOPSY EAR

Okay, my tentative plans for now are puppy home alone for ~3h in the morning, then at lunch I come home and take him to puppy day care near my office for puppy socializing and stuff for the rest of the afternoon. Then home for dinner and crate naps!
posted by elizardbits at 8:19 AM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: The ASPCA also has a good methodical plan for crate-training over a weekend. Also seconding the Ian Dunbar guides on Dog Star Daily, and really, Nature's Miracle is your best friend. We buy big bottles and decant into a smaller spray bottle which makes cleaning with it super easy.

Teaching your dog to accept a crate is a really good skill to have on hand. Even if your dog eventually chooses not to hang out in it after he is housebroken (ours prefers the couch, our bed, or his dog bed during the day), it's good to know that your pup will accept a crate if you're ever in a situation where he MUST be crated eg. evacuated to a shelter, plane travel etc.

We call our dog's crate his "little room" or his "doggy bachelor pad". He sleeps in it at night but is rarely in it during the day... except, surprisingly, when he's feeling poorly or ill!
posted by kitkatcathy at 9:15 AM on July 26, 2012

One of the unexpected joys of dog ownership was my dogs obsession with the smell of my lady parts. She not only figured out how to open lidded trash cans full of sanitary products that she scattered throughout the house, but repeatedly managed to pull used underwear out of the holes in my laundry hamper and eat the crotch out of them.

No matter how well you prepare for pets, they always find new ways to annoy you.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 2:20 PM on July 26, 2012

Yes. Crate training FTW!

I didn't bring my big crate in when I got my medium sized dog about 21/2 months ago, and I just realized that his scrooching under the couch, hiding in the way of my feet under the computer desk, and the annoying crawling under the plant stand was his way of telling me he wanted a his own cave. Doh! I've since brought the crate in, blocked off the back half, and have offered to trade big for medium on Craigslist.

Some dogs use a crate automatically, and some need to be taught that it's their very own space where they won't be interfered with. One rule: Don't use the crate for punishment.
posted by BlueHorse at 5:30 PM on July 26, 2012

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