Preparing Your House For a New Puppy


Preparing Your House For a New Puppy

Life with a new puppy is not dissimilar to life with a human baby.  Both are more or less completely helpless, and both require around-the-clock care.  But while it’s considered normal to spend the full nine months meticulously planning for the arrival of a new baby, most people don’t spend nearly as much time planning and preparing for the arrival of a new puppy.

Having a new puppy in your home can be as stressful as it is exciting, and those who haven’t recently dealt with a puppy may have forgotten just how inquisitive these fuzzy little bundles can be.  It is imperative to take every step possible to make sure that your home is a safe and comforting place for your new puppy.

We can say this with some certainty: the better prepared you are, the smoother life will be in those critical first few weeks with a new puppy in the house.  Read on for everything you need to know to prepare your house for a new puppy, along with other top tips for new puppies.

Puppy Proofing 1 – Setting Boundaries

Boundary setting is as important with puppies as it is with children.  Just because you’re letting a puppy into your home doesn’t mean that they should have the run of the entire place.  In this first crucial step, you need to set boundaries for your puppy that will be strictly enforced throughout their lives.  Doing so will make life much easier and reduce stress for everyone in the home.

“This Is Not Your Room”

In the classic Tom Hanks film “Turner and Hooch”, Tom Hanks is left to look after a dog against his better judgment.  After the dog – an enormous Dogue de Bordeaux with a severe drooling problem – has destroyed several areas of the house, Tom Hanks takes him from room to room, explaining the rules of the house and repeatedly telling him, “This is not your room”.

With your new puppy on the way, it’s time for you to work out which rooms your puppy will be allowed to access, and which rooms are out of bounds.  Making certain rooms – bedrooms, for example – a puppy free zone does not mean that you love your puppy any less.  What it does mean is that you’re setting boundaries for yourself.


Before your puppy arrives, decide whether they will be allowed onto your furniture or not.  If you’d like your puppy to join you for snuggle sessions on the sofa, consider how you’re going to maintain hygiene with pets in the house.  Will you cover your sofa with a washable throw?  Or perhaps remove decorative cushions to keep them clean?

If you choose not to allow your puppy onto furniture, this is a decision that needs to be made and enforced from day one.

Restricting Access

Now it’s time to restrict your puppy’s access to those areas of the house that you have identified as off-limits.  A puppy playpen can be used as a movable low fence that will stop your small puppy in their tracks but can be easily stepped over by humans.  For a taller solution, look at toddler gates to restrict access to certain areas of your home.  Remember that you will be opening and closing these gates multiple times a day, so look for ones that can be opened one-handed.

Puppy Proofing 2 – Creating a Safe Home for Your Puppy

Now that you have firmly set your boundaries and have determined exactly which areas of your home your puppy will be allowed access to and which are strictly out of bounds, it’s time for the next step.  Here, you’ll systematically go through your house and remove anything that could potentially cause harm to your puppy.

Remember that puppies – like babies and toddlers – learn by exploring.  Just as a toddler will instinctively reach for items and maybe even put them in their mouth, puppies will lick, bite, and chew as a way of learning and exploring the world around them.

Puppy-proofing your house serves two important purposes.  Firstly, and most importantly, the aim is to remove all dangers that could cause your puppy to become sick or injured.  Secondly, by puppy-proofing your house you’ll be protecting everything that is important to you.  Your puppy may think nothing of chewing up your best pair of shoes or your child’s favorite toy, but this could have devastating effects on the family and could severely hamper your ability to bond with your puppy.

Specific Steps to Take to Make Your Home Safe

In every room that your puppy will be able to access, take these essential steps:

  • Remove any living plants, as many are poisonous to dogs
  • Remove or securely tape down electrical cords
  • Remove or secure hanging objects like curtain cords and tablecloths
  • Relocate glass bowls, fish tanks, candles, and other breakable items
  • Ensure ant traps, cockroach baits, and other pest poisons are completely out of reach
  • Remove or relocate ashtrays, cigarettes, and smoking supplies
  • Store chemicals and cleaning products up high or in a lockable cupboard
  • Clear the floor of all loose items, even seemingly innocent things like pencils and paper clips
  • Swap any open top trash baskets to ones with secure lids.

When you think you’re done, lie down on the floor and look at your home from the point of view of your new puppy.  You may be surprised at what you can see from that level.

Dinner Time

While tiny puppy-sized plastic food and water bowls may look adorable, they’re never a good idea.  Puppies will cut their teeth on anything, and chewing up plastic food and water bowls can damage their baby teeth and sensitive gums while inviting bacteria into the cracks and indents of their tiny teeth.

Instead, opt for metal or ceramic food and water bowls that can’t be tipped over or chewed.

Preparing for House Training

Despite everyone’s best intentions, your puppy is going to have accidents inside the house.  The best way to prepare for this is to have a range of cleaning supplies ready to go to take care of any mess without fuss.

Before your puppy arrives, work out where you intend for them to go to the toilet in the long-term.  New habits must be started from the get-go, so if you want your puppy to eliminate outside, they must be encouraged to do so from day one.  If they’ll be living completely indoors, set up your indoor potty or absorbent pads so your puppy begins to understand the routine from the start.

Make sure you take your puppy to your chosen toileting spot first thing in the morning, after every meal, after a play session, and right before bed.

Responsibilities, Schedule, And Vocabulary List

If you live alone and will be the only person regularly interacting with your puppy, you can skip this step.  For everyone else, it is vital to have a family meeting before your new puppy arrives to discuss the responsibilities of different people, your puppies anticipated schedule, and to agree on a vocabulary list.

It’s all very exciting when a puppy is on the way, and you may have several people wanting to be involved in caring for the new arrival.  In that case, everyone needs to be clear about who is taking on which responsibilities.  Unless you come to an agreement beforehand, your puppy may gleefully enjoy three breakfasts at different times of the morning.  If small children are involved in any puppy responsibilities, they will need to be supervised.

A vocabulary list is also vitally important, as different people in your household may use the same word to mean different things.  A classic example is ur the word “down”, which could potentially mean to lie down (on the floor), to put something down (such as a toy), or to get down (if the puppy has jumped up on a person or furniture item).  When it comes time to train your puppy you’ll run into problems if you have inadvertently been using words inconsistently.  Agreeing on a vocabulary list and putting it on the fridge for everyone to refer to will solve this problem before it even starts.

Shopping for Everything Else

In addition to everything discussed above, there is still a fairly extensive list of must-have new puppy supplies that you will need to get in advance.  It’s always a good idea to be as prepared as possible before your puppy arrives, so you don’t have to add a shopping trip to your list of responsibilities once you’ve got your new puppy in the house.

Your shopping list will vary slightly depending on the age, size, and breed of your puppy, but in general, you’ll need most of the following items, in addition to everything else discussed above:

  • Collar and leash
  • Personalized ID tags
  • Harness
  • Brush and/or comb, depending on the breed
  • Nail clippers
  • Puppy shampoo
  • Stain remover
  • Car harness or another type of car restraint.

They may be tiny, fuzzy, and infinitely cute, but they are also fast learners.  Your new puppy is taking everything in from the moment you bring them home.  If you make a mistake in those critical first few weeks, it could take months or even years for your dog to “unlearn” what they picked up.  Leave a pair of shoes on the floor, and your puppy will learn just how much fun it is to destroy them.  Infinitely worse, forget to put away some cleaning supplies or human medication, and you could be in for an emergency trip to the veterinarian or local animal hospital.

By following the simple steps listed above, you can create an environment within your home where your new puppy can feel safe, protected, and loved.  The more time and thought you put into your preparations before you pick up your puppy, the smoother those first few weeks and months will go.

About David Huner

David Huner is a dog lover. Dog training has become a passion for him. With many years of experience he is here to share his tips and ideas. His goal is to provide exact dog training solutions. His favorite quote is "Train your dogs, enjoy your life and be happy"

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