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Puppy-proof your home

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By Robert Villanueva

TO ADOPT FROM HARDIN COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL:

To adopt Petunia, a 7-8 week old heeler mix, other dogs or cats, applications are available at Hardin County Animal Control, 116 Nicholas St., Elizabethtown, (270) 769-3428. Basic adoption fee is $15.

By ROBERT VILLANUEVA

rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com

The holidays are traditionally a time for family to come home, and if a new puppy is arriving home as well, it’s important to prepare for the new houseguest.

Just like a homeowner might baby-proof a house, puppy-proofing a house is essential to preventing messes, property destruction, injury and even accidental death.

In order to know what might be a hazard or attractive to the puppy, Pam Adams, owner of Circletop Farm — a dog kennel and training facility — in Rineyville suggested a puppy owner literally get down on the pet’s level.

“One of the best things is to get down on your hands and knees to see it from the puppy’s perspective,” Adams said.

Getting down on hands and knees gives the owner a first-hand view of what the puppy can get into.

“Anything that you can see is fair game for the puppy,” Adams said.

Particularly attractive, and potentially dangerous, to puppies are electrical cords, she said. Special covers can be used to protect cords. In any case, puppy owners should not take their eyes off their new four-legged family members.

“Number one, all puppies should be in a crate unless you can keep your eyes on them all the time,” said Debbie Howe, kennel pack leader at Sam Russell’s Pet Provisions in Elizabethtown.

Howe cited electrical cords, blinds, cabinets and houseplants as some things that should be considered when puppy-proofing the home. Child-safe locks should be used on cabinets that can be accessed by puppies, she said.

“A puppy is like a 2-year-old child,” Howe said.

Adams said puppies are “anything paper that they can get their mouths on.”

Unlike baby-proofing, electrical outlets generally are not a problem because they generally aren’t interested, she said.

On the other hand, houseplants are often attractive to puppies, Howe said. In addition to being a recipe for a big mess, certain plants — such as poinsettias — can be toxic to puppies if enough is ingested.

One of the most obvious ways to protect items that might be of interest to a puppy is to put them somewhere out of reach. In other cases it might be best to hide objects in drawers or closets or securing them, according to www.move.com.

Items such as garbage cans, children’s toys, books, newspapers, houseplants, electrical cords, shoes, toilet paper, medications, cosmetics and even other small pets such as hamsters, reptiles and gerbils, are among the things that can be attractive to an inquisitive puppy, the Web site says.

Teething should be addressed in order to prevent property destruction.

“Puppies chew on everything,” Howe said.

Bitter apple spray is one way to deter puppies from chewing on furniture and other items, but it isn’t always practical, Adams said.

“You don’t know what things are going to be attractive to him,” she said.

Howe advised puppy owners not to give their companions a shoe to chew on only to get upset later when they discover a $100 dollar pair of shoes is destroyed. “Indestructible” toys are a better option, she said.

Adams and Howe recommended a stern “no” or other vocalization when witnessing a puppy chewing on something inappropriate then giving the puppy an appropriate chew treat.

“The teeth are what drives them,” Adams said. “Their nose and their teeth.”

Howe also suggested using an item like a shaker can, which makes a loud noise without the puppy knowing where it came from.

Housebreaking a puppy as soon as it arrives will help prevent messes in the home. Crate training is a good option for the new guest, Adams said.

Howe said puppy training should begin “as soon as they walk in the door.”

Crating a puppy should be done when an owner is not home or can’t supervise the puppy and should not be used as a form of punishment, according to www.move.com. The crate should be associated with positive experiences, such as food.

When the puppy is not in the crate, a routine should be established when housebreaking.

“You have to figure out what that puppy’s schedule is,” Adams said.

It’s important to “keep it consistent,” she said.

Baby gates can be used to restrict a puppy from roaming free. Puppy play pens are a good option as well, Adams said. It is important that a puppy be supervised and not have “free rein,” she said.

“They have to learn what their boundaries are,” Adams said..

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743.