Sometimes it’s necessary to rearrange your home to protect both your belongings and your dog
By Kim Campbell Thornton
Every few years, when we get a new puppy or adopt an adult dog or have a foster dog spend some time with us, I have to dog-proof our home and learn some new tricks about interacting with particular dogs. You might think that I would have dog-proofing down by now, but each dog has been attracted to different items or has done things it didn’t occur to the other dogs to try. Our current “new dog” is Kibo, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel we’re fostering until he is adopted.
One of the first things Kibo taught me was to put away my shoes and to close doors. None of our other dogs have been chewers, but Kibo likes to examine things with his mouth in the fervent hope that they will be edible. He has gone into the closet to chew on my leather sandals (caught before he did any damage) and explored the walk-in shower. There he found and carried away a plastic razor, which, fortunately, he abandoned in the hallway instead of swallowing. He is also fond of a tiny, gold papier-mache box. He hasn’t chewed it up or swallowed it, which he could easily do, but he likes to take it off the side table and lie with it. It’s now out of reach, too.
Despite his short stature, Kibo tries hard to be a countertop surfer. We’ve learned not to hold or place food at any height where he could jump up and reach it. Our other dogs are also highly food-oriented, but they wouldn’t dream of snatching food out of our hands. Kibo does more than dream it — he tries it. I always push the chair in if I get up from the table because I can tell that the idea of jumping onto it to get at the food is running through his mind.
If you are living with a Kibo of your own, here are some tips to keep your belongings safe, your house in one piece and your dog out of trouble.
Use a crate. When you cannot supervise your dog, even if it’s just for a few minutes, put him in the crate to prevent any misbehavior. Kibo hangs out in his crate on his own and he’s happy to go into it when asked because he knows he will get a treat.
Tether your dog. That means he is leashed at your side at all times. This is a great way to learn the signals a new dog or puppy gives when he needs to go potty. It keeps him under your watchful eye so he can’t get into mischief and helps build a bond between you.
Get down at dog’s-eye level to see what might attract the dog’s attention. Electrical cords, small trash containers and dangling dish towels all can pose threats. Bundle cords and encase them in tough plastic covers, put trash containers out of reach, and keep dish towels in drawers if your dog is attracted to them. Chair and table legs often look good to chew. Coat them with Bitter Apple spray to deter taste-testing (try it first in an inconspicuous area to make sure it doesn’t damage the finish). Make sure no sharp edges or choking hazards are within a dog’s reach.
Most important, never underestimate the intelligence and inventiveness of dogs. They can learn to open doors, climb up on counters and desks using other pieces of furniture as launch pads, and crawl under or wiggle into places you’ve never imagined they would go. Be smart and put away or block access to valuable, fragile or dangerous items and secure cabinets with childproof locks.
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