Published in: Feb 17 2015 : Mirror (Bangalore)
Most good puppy primers talk about puppy proofing as a necessary part of bringing home a puppy. Puppy proofing, in my experience, is the least stressful way to avoid destruction of valuable objects in the house.Additional techniques may be necessary. But along with other methods, effective puppy proofing is a must. It’s effective irrespective of the age of the dog or the extent of destructiveness.
Puppy proofing is not as much a technique as a temporary lifestyle change. It may last a few weeks or a few months, depending on how entrenched old habits are. But if done effectively, it should get done sooner than you expect. However, you need to mentally prepare yourself for significant changes, albeit temporary. You may need to warn visitors with, “We will be puppy proofing for two months. So please excuse the way the house looks.“ You may need to change your cleaning ritual. But you need to sit down and give that some thought. Still with me?
Okay. Here we go.
Start off by envisioning the entire space your puppy can access. Be it indoors, outdoors or multiple locations. If you miss out a single room, you are at risk of losing valuable objects in that room.
Now puppy proof the entire space. There are plenty of resources online on this. But the gist of it is this if you find objects that you value a lot, tell the object, “I value you a lot.So I am going to put you away for 2 months. This is for your own good. Bye for now“. This is important because, irrespective of any method followed, accidents happen and there are some accidents you would rather avoid. These objects are too valuable.
Puppies are very curious and love to explore and discover new things. The next step is to put a lot of objects like green coconuts, coconut stems, jute coir cotton ropes, jute bags, old cotton clothes etc. When your pup gets into a certain space and is looking for things to do, it’s important to provide him with options in that room. Don’t expect him to carry his entertainment with him. Exploring the room is his entertainment.
Puppy proofing from here on becomes an evolving one for the rest of the program. If your puppy goes into a certain space you did not expect him to or takes a valuable object that you forgot to put away, calmly walk away, find some old object that can be given to him and start making some sounds in another room. The object should be new to him. None of his own old objects, please. Once he comes there to examine the new object and is engrossed in it, calmly take away the valuable object or figure out a temporary barrier in front of the space he was not supposed to get into.
SOME THINGS TO AVOID ARE
1. Puppy proof once, no follow-up: Completely defeats the purpose of the initial puppy proofing 2. Not doing the proofing thoroughly: It’s just too many “forbidden objects“ around for the dog. It’s just too stressful for him to learn effectively 3. Not giving enough objects of his own: If the space is cleaned up and not replaced with other interesting objects, the dog is likely to get very bored. The next target will be immovable like furniture. The dogs may also start to get crafty figuring out how to bring down objects.
If your dog needs this, then I wish you the best for the next two months. If you have before and after pictures of your home after puppy proofing, I’d love it if you shared them with me.