Pet-Proof That Room!
Imagine you’re having company stay over, an old friend, family member… maybe even a date! You are going to double check to be sure those socks are off the floor, do some preparation, make the place more accommodating, and consider what might make their stay more pleasant for everyone, right?
We're going to try to avoid this
OK, now you're in the mindset to Puppy-Proof! While a new furry family member may not care about your decorating skills, he or she needs to feel at home in the new place. It’s true that a healthy home is a happy home, and there is a LOT to do to be sure a furry house guest is safe and healthy (no trips to the ER because those socks on the floor looked too delicious). To help, we’ve made a list:
1. Stand in the Doorway
Survey your domain. Admire your lovely room. Blush at the accumulated detritus of your overly hectic life. Revel in your clear sense of feng-shui. Breathe deeply. You have completed step one by getting the daydreaming out of the way immediately. Seriously, get to work.
2. Is it bigger than a Quarter?
My college roommate’s father was hilarious, no doubt why his son and I had a lot of laughs together. On his first visit to our apartment, he entered, looked around, shook his head mournfully, and pronounced, in a tone worthy of an exasperated elementary school teacher, “For Pete’s sake, boys… If it’s bigger than a Quarter, PICK IT UP!” (“Yes, Mr. Lynn…”)
Give the place a good cleaning. Organize and sort anything tossed casually aside, then clean the dust ring around where it has been cluttering for weeks. Move objects and furniture. Yes, really. Pretend you’re an undercover CIA operative in hostile territory, looking for a ‘bug’ planted by the Enemy. The success of the entire operation depends on this, we’re counting on you, Agent _____! Or just listen to NPR. Whatever keeps you going.
Handy Life Tip:
Whatever thing may be hiding under your bed, or in the bathroom garbage, or otherwise forgotten in a dark corner, will be the very thing which pup will find the most alluring. Then, he’s got plans to try eating it, but first he wants to drag it into the living room, so everyone visiting can marvel at his discovery.
3. Paws on the Floor
Get down on their level. You’re a puppy. Check out the room you’ve never seen before, buddy! Wow! Look at that! Oh, oh, no – look at that! Hey, what’s that funny smell? What’s over here? Wow, I bet you can fit under there, let’s try!
Rearrange and protect exposed electrical cords as well as possible, remove anything from paw-to-nose level from the floor, unless it has to remain there. I don’t know, it’s your room, stick it in the closet! Does that door shut properly?
Kitten-Proofing: as above, plus take every picture frame, knick-knack, objet d'art... just take everything off every sill, shelf, and mantle. Reintroduce gradually, starting with the most durable/least prized items!
Now switch back to bipedal mode, and grab a fly swatter, because now you are going to impersonate a swishy tail... Wag, tail, wag! You are the bittersweet embodiment of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, excitedly and impartially thrashing about, leaving a wake of smiles and destruction wherever you go… So walk around, swing that thing at waist level – carefully; you’re getting way too into it! – as you go, move whatever you almost knocked over.
Personally, I was reluctant to give up my coffee table, but my big buddy Wilson does a spot-on impersonation of Godzilla wading through the streets of Tokyo, overturning buildings and whatnot with a single swipe. After a few sets of glassware were reduced to ‘settings for seven’ from ‘settings for eight’, I came to the conclusion that floor space trumped space devoted to a piece of furniture which could no longer be used.
5. You are not done spending money on this Dog
Baby/doggie gates - Craigslist is full of them. You’ll want several for at least a short period of time, one for any stairs (perhaps one for the bottom, and one for the top?), one that is easy to move and simple to set up, to be employed as necessary, to block off a waxed floor, or while cooking, maybe another if your screen door is not particularly sturdy. If your guest is particularly creative, you may want to invest in an exercise pen (like this one) to keep your new friend from chewing the bottoms of cabinets, or accessing the best place to tear up your carpet.
I cannot stress this one enough – garbage cans with secure lids. Possibly re-think that can with the handy foot pedal, or the battery-powered, motion sensor-equipped flip top. Maybe a flat lid topped by a brick is necessary? (You can tell visitors that it is a historic piece of the Berlin Wall...) When purchasing, keep in your mind the image of a grizzly bear ravaging your food and beverage cooler, while your fellow campers huddle, shocked, at the edge of the fire light. It will keep you focused.
Perhaps a preventative treatment of the legs of Aunt Clara’s prized antique end table with a commercially available ‘anti-chew’ product would be a good idea? How well do you really like that piece, anyway? But you know Grandma would be so disappointed if it got gnawed-up… better put it in another room, and make sure puppy has a few fun things of his very own to chew on, like some safe, durable chews (not rawhide, please), and a durable teething toy. Better make it a couple toys, for novelty’s sake. Likely a worthwhile investment. (Extra tip: Never leave your new pal alone with a chew toy until you have made absolutely sure to observe its’ durability while you are home!)
6. Worthy of Special Attention
Houseplants - Make sure it isn't poisonous (check here), and consider the potential for a real mess, if it is potted in soil.
Windows - Remember that little warning tag that was on the pull cord of those blinds when you bought them? Make sure cords are out of reach so that pets do not decide to chew on them, and become entangled.
Electrical Cords - Work to cover and conceal cords and outlets as best you can, blocking your pet's access with furniture, rugs, etc.
7. It’s not The Zombie Apocalypse, but just to be sure…
I’m pretty sure you have the braiiiiins to figure this one out. I know your puppy or kitty does!
Secure the food supply - Fridge. High Cabinet. Animal-proof storage container. No food items sitting out.
Lock up the weapons – Maybe your imported Swedish cutlery (and any other sharp objects!) need to go on top of the high cupboard, even though it is more convenient on the counter.
Inventory and stow the chemicals – high cabinets, secure closets, never along with any foods.
No loose ends – That’s how They Gitcha! One free promotional ink pen left on the desk = hundreds of dollars in veterinary surgical costs.
So no, it’s not THE END, it’s the beginning, of a happy, safe, and harmonious relationship. May you both share your space for a long time!