A new puppy is both pure joy and pure bedlam. From puppy biting to house training to an insatiable appetite to put everything in their mouth, it may seem like endless work. Thankfully they do grow up, and most behaviors eventually calm down. In the meantime, it’s your top priority to keep your puppy out of harm’s way—because if it’s dangerous, you can be sure they will sniff it out.
- At home
Your puppy will spend most of the first few months at home, so it’s critical that you puppy-proof inside and out. Before you even bring a pup home, literally get down on their level and remove anything that could be a danger, or in danger of being chewed by sharp puppy teeth. Indoors look for electrical cords, rugs, and houseplants on the floors, kids’ toys, remote controls, and anything within their reach. Outdoors you’ll need to secure trash cans, clear sharp yard debris, and tools, fence gardens, raise up potted plants, and block off restricted areas.
- When traveling
Traveling with a puppy is a lot like a child—they’re unpredictable, need constant attention and have to go to the bathroom at the most inconvenient times. Keeping your pup safe is first and foremost about managing their environment so they are secure. Always keep them on-leash if they are not in a carrier or crate, and be sure they have access to water, ventilation, and temperature control if you are traveling in a vehicle, on public transportation, or an airplane.
Related: Tips On Traveling With a Puppy
Social interaction with people, other animals and new sights, sounds, and places is critical for a puppy. It’s also important to be sure to do it safely. Whether introducing your puppy to a new human or dog, be sure to have control of them at all times. Keeping your pup on a leash allows you to maintain a safe distance until they calm down, or if you need to restrain them if they become over-excited or dart if frightened.
Check with your vet as to what’s safe before your puppy is fully immunized. Introduce friends and family you know, and only socialize with other pets you know have been fully vaccinated. Don’t take your pet to a park or dog park where unknown dogs have been. And check out puppy socialization classes—many offer courses for young puppies who have yet to be fully vaccinated with proof of a clean bill of health and updated records.
- During the “fear impact period”
Between the ages of 8 to 11 weeks, learning is permanent—both good and bad. During this critical stage in puppy development, impressions of any “bad” or scary experiences are likely to last, and may resurface in maturity.
This is an essential time to expose them to as many different experiences as possible, so they become less wary of anything new or unusual. Take them to a variety of places, and slowly introduce lots of different things—from people wearing hats, to passing bicycles, running the vacuum cleaner and meeting the mailman. The more secure they feel now the less anxious they become in other situations.
While no easy task, keeping your puppy safe makes everyone happy. You’ll know they are secure, and your puppy will learn that you are the source of everything they love from comfort to treats to a glorious game of fetch in the safety of your own back yard—or wherever you may roam together.