Bringing up Puppy! Puppy Proofing & Redirecting to Toys

Join us in this series, where we follow in the footsteps of our lead trainer and owner Linda Brennen, as she gets her new puppy and experiences all the challenges and joys of adding a new puppy to the family.

Each day we will be sharing videos, pictures and blog posts that includes great tips for all new puppy owners – follow us on Facebook and on Instagram to get daily updates, or check back here daily.

As you will find out, getting a new puppy can be a challenge… even for trainers!

View the entire series at HERE


Puppy Proofing

Keeping puppy safe in their pen

This has been an eye-opening experience since we didn’t puppy proof as well as we should have before we brought him home.

We haven’t had a puppy this small in almost 30 years so he has been exploring in places we had no idea he could even get to, such as underneath and behind our recliners. We have had to unplug our electric recliners, so we don’t squish him! There lots of nooks and cranny’s that we also didn’t realize he could easily access, so we are having to be more diligent about picking things up and blocking areas off. Week one puppy has been restricted to the family room with a baby gate, where he is kept under strict supervision. If we have to leave the room, he is put in his secure and safe pen. He is carried outside, both to avoid potty accidents and surprise meetings with Karl (more on that later.)

Below is a list of tips on puppy proofing your house:

  1. Toxic Plants – Find out which plants are toxic and place them out of reach, or replace them with nontoxic plants. DOWNLOAD a list of the most common toxic plants.
  2. Medications – Keep all medications in a safe area where your puppy cannot access them. Puppies are surprisingly quick at pulling things off low surfaces.
  3. Trash – Put trash cans up high where your dog cannot get into them, or ensure that lids are tightly secured. Puppies love to chew on ANYTHING and there are lots of things in trash that could be poisonous and dangerous.
  4. Cleaning products – Keep cleaning supplies in high cupboards or use childproof latches to secure lower cupboards. Remove your puppy from the area when you are using liquid or spray cleaners. The vapors can be harmful to lungs and eyes.
  5. Furniture – Be careful of your puppy around furniture. A rocking chair can hurt a puppy’s tail or leg, and a curious puppy may crawl under an open recliner or sofa bed.
  6. Electrical cords – Electrical cords are a big danger to puppies, who often chew on them while playing. This can cause burns in the mouth, electrical shock, or death by electrocution. Tie up loose electrical cords, purchase spiral cable wrap, or PVC pipe to keep them safe from your puppy.
  7. Fire – Screen off fireplaces and wood stoves. Never leave your puppy unattended in a room with an open flame or space heater.
  8. Window dressing cords – Cords for curtains and blinds can be a strangulation hazard. Either tie up the excess cords, or cut the loop in the cord.
  9. Clothing – Swallowed clothing may cause a dangerous intestinal blockage. Keep socks, nylons, underwear, and other clothing put away. Keep laundry baskets off the floor.
  10. Small objects – Keep small objects (coins, jewelry, needles and thread, straight pins, yarn, dental floss, rubber bands, paper clips, toys, etc.) out of your puppy’s reach.
  11. Doors and windows – Be careful about closing doors as you walk through – your puppy may be right behind you and get caught. Keep screens on windows and sliding glass doors securely fastened and in good repair, to keep your puppy from falling through or escaping. Close off stairwells with a baby gate.
  12. Food – Some human foods are dangerous for your puppy. DOWNLOAD a list of the foods to NOT feed your puppy!


Redirecting to Toys
Puppies explore their world with their mouths, and this fellow is no different. When he gets anything in his mouth that shouldn’t be there, we are trying to preempt that instinct and divert him to chewing on his toys. We have figured out which are his favorites and are using those toys to engage him. When he starts to chew on the carpet or our clothes and us (puppy teeth are known to be very sharp!), we redirect his interest from the wrong objects and engage him with a toy to chew on.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is they react after the dog is doing things they don’t want and are not preemptive about it. It is a 24/7 job; whenever the puppy is awake you need to be thinking about what you want them to do, and direct them to those behavior, rather than waiting for them to improvise and do things you don’t want.

I’m finding as I’m going through things with my puppy, I think about what I would tell my clients. One day he was out in the yard, exploring and picking up leaves and sticks and anything he can find with his mouth. After a few moments of frustration, I finally realized we don’t have any outdoor toys for him to play with, so of course he is going to put everything else he can find in his mouth.  So I bought some outside toys that we can use to redirect him to instead of waiting for him to get other things in his mouth that he shouldn’t have. While planning is important, being flexible is also important as you help your puppy navigate this new world.

One of the things we are working on from the very beginning of training is Drop It. I am noticing that, just like I tell my clients, the more items that get taken away from him the more likely he is to run away with them to try to keep them. And boy is he fast!

I have a strict rule with my clients; you only get to take 1 thing away from your pup each day. Why?  It is so owners don’t create a puppy that grabs things and runs. Our puppy is already starting to do this, mostly because my family is a challenge, and not always on track with the follow thru that I have planned. It happens to all of us and it’s easy to get distracted with the things you need to do, then you react when you see that the puppy has something in its mouth, thus developing the habit where you take things away and puppy ends of guarding them or running away with them.

Have you noticed I keep calling our new pup “puppy?” That’s because we don’t have a name for him yet! Next week we will reveal his name and how we decided on it – for us, it was a family decision.


Check back tomorrow as we discuss how we introduced new puppy and Karl – a long process that will take a while!

View the entire series at HERE!

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