Pet-Proofing the House and Yard
Like toddlers, puppies get into everything! You never know where their curiosity will lead them. Before you bring that baby home, take a good look around your house and see what you can put out of harm's way, including electric and Venetian blind cords, throw pillows, houseplants and artificial flowers, plastic toys, that prized photo album on the coffee table, your leather slippers, and those new running shoes. Everyday items such as string, pens, pencils, yarn, and elastic bands can be hazardous if chewed and swallowed by your dog. Things you would never suspect would be fun to chew — the remote control, DVDs, and scented candles — can be highly inviting to those busy little jaws. Make sure cleaning supplies are in locked cabinets, and get in the habit of putting dirty clothes in the hamper immediately. If it smells like you, the pup might want to chew it. A baby gate or two will keep the puppy from rooms in which you don't want it roaming freely.
Until a puppy is housebroken, it should not have the run of the house. It needs to earn that privilege!
Next, check out your yard. Look for spots in the fence where a tiny dog could squeeze through to escape. You can eliminate these gaps by running a barrier of wire mesh or chicken wire along the bottom of the fence. Make sure all gates close tightly.
Lawn- and pest-control chemicals can be fatal to a dog. Not using them at all is your safest bet, but if you must, they need to be well watered into the soil. Keep your dog away from the area for forty-eight hours after use. Have a potty area on the fringe of your yard where no such substances are ever used, and take the pup to this preferred potty spot to do its business from day one.
Swimming pools and other water features must be safely fenced off. Rubber hoses and bicycle tires are fun to chew, so remove them as well. Lock any toxic chemicals, cleaning compounds, sharp tools, and garden supplies in your garage or shed. These preventive measures will be well worth your while, making it more fun for you and your family to enjoy outdoor activities with your new little dog.
One final word of caution: Even if your yard is fenced and puppy-proofed, it is not a good idea to let the puppy out unsupervised. Leaving a puppy out unattended or risking injury with a tie-out or cable is simply not safe or wise. In areas with a coyote population, remember that your small dog would make a tasty meal for these wild predators. Keep an eye on your pup when it's out in the yard, and use a leash when you take it anywhere away from home.