The sleepless nights. The little ‘accidents’. The mess and upheaval. Bringing a puppy home for the first time is a lot like having a baby – only this new arrival has the ability to chew straight through electrical cables!
From digging up next-door’s prized roses to unravelling an entire string of tinsel from the Christmas tree, getting a puppy is not for the faint-hearted – or house proud. That’s why planning ahead is a must.
From looking into what dog insurance options are available to budgeting for that weekly supply of puppy food, there’s a lot to consider before welcoming a scruffy new family member into your home.
That said, there are a few things you can do in advance to stop your cute bundle of fluff completely destroying your home.
Make like a puppy
By getting down on your hands and knees and crawling around your home. Yes, the neighbours will think you’ve lost your marbles, but getting a dog’s-eye view will give you a good idea of all the potential dangers that lurk around your home.
Remove potential hazards, such as hanging tablecloths (which can be pulled down, along with any heavy objects on top of it). Put poisons, medicines and cleaning products in cupboards complete with childproof locks. Look out for any small items that could be swallowed – particularly coins or stones. Buy cable protectors for electrical flexes.
Buy a playpen or baby gates
It may not be a good idea to let your puppy play unsupervised at first, until he’s out of the ‘chew everything in sight’ stage. Baby gates that keep certain areas of your home out of bounds are a great way to keep him safe. Failing that, you can even buy puppy playpens. These will give him adequate room to move and play until you can give him your full attention again.
Help him feel secure
While all puppies like to chew and play, they are more likely to be destructive if they feel unhappy or insecure. Before you take your puppy home, give the breeder a soft blanket or towel to put in with his mum, so it picks up the scent of the litter, and then using this to line his bed. You may want your pup to sleep in the kitchen away from the family eventually, but Dogs Trust says that it may be a good idea to let him sleep in your bedroom initially, before moving him to the landing and downstairs when required.
Stop the chewing
If your puppy chews up your expensive shoe collection, you may be distraught. But look at things from his point of view. All puppies chew – the very act releases endorphins and makes them feel happy. But if he’s bored or lonely, the chewing can get out of hand and may be a sign that your pup is suffering from separation distress*, according to top trainer Victoria Stilwell.
Shoes smell powerfully of their owner and chewing them may be your pup’s way of feeling close to you once you’ve gone. You can keep your shoes out of reach and provide plenty of chew toys for appropriate chewing, but it’s also important to find a way to relieve his loneliness. Perhaps a friend or neighbour could pop in once a day to keep him company. Most people love puppies and would jump at the chance to pet one!
*Separation distress is a complex issue, so please seek professional help and advice if your puppy is showing signs of this.