One of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard is about a Dalmatian who chewed open a brand-new bottle of Advil, ate most of the pills and subsequently died.
Although my first response was compassion for my friend who had lost her dog, a part of me wanted to know why the dog had access to medicine in the first place. If she had made it impossible for the dog to get to the bathroom cabinets, he’d be alive today.
Another story, still sad but a little amusing, involved a friend’s Golden Retriever eating a stack of money she’d left on her nightstand while she was taking a shower. She was leaving on a trip the next day — hence the pile of cash — and her dog had eaten half her traveling money. Had she kept the door closed, as this incident caused her to do in the future, she’d have been flush for her trip.
Keeping your dog safe — and your possessions intact — is simple to do, provided you know a few tricks and follow these easy steps.
1. Baby-Proof the House
Years ago, the rescue I worked with launched a massive fundraising campaign for a Dachshund who had chewed through electrical cords and burned out all the skin and flesh of her upper palate. She eventually recovered — after wracking up a $10,000 vet bill. Had the family ensured the cords were unreachable, the doxie wouldn’t have injured herself.
Dogs may not be human children, but the same devices we use to keep kids safe also work well for keeping our dogs out of trouble. If you have small children, you’re probably already familiar with the plethora of baby-proofing items that are easy to install and cost relatively little cash.
If you don’t have kids, take a trip to your local Target or baby store and check out your options:
- Baby gates that limit access to rooms you use frequently
- Covers for electrical outlets
- Power-strip covers
- Safety locks for your kitchen and bathroom cabinets
- A containment system for your electrical cords
Although not made for babies, a dog food vault is also essential if you have large or crafty dogs. However, even the most dog-proof lid won’t keep your pup out of the food unless you shut it tight.
Before we got smart, our Dachshunds foiled our 2-foot-high vault by knocking it over and working the lid off. Now we turn it until our arms hurt. No more bloated bellies!
2. Buy a Trashcan Your Dog Can’t Open
Most dogs love to root around in the trash for delicious treats, like pizza crust, fast-food wrappers and used tissues. Unfortunately, this behavior has 2 unpleasant consequences: garbage strewn on the floor and/or a sick dog who vomits, leaves piles of diarrhea in unexpected places or develops an expensive intestinal blockage your vet will charge $$$ to remove.
The most effective solution is a pull-out trashcan, but they can be horrifically expensive, and you’ll need enough under-counter space to install one. But if you have a large, extremely food-motivated dog, one who is obsessed with digging through the trash (Labrador Retriever, anyone?), a pull-out can might be your best option.
For smaller dogs or those who aren’t as interested in plowing through garbage, a sturdy metal trashcan with a step-on lid is the way to go. Although these nifty cans can run you $150 or more, discount stores, like Target, Marshalls or TJ Maxx, often carry them at much lower prices.
3. Close the Doors
I have Dachshunds, which means my house almost always contains at least 1 cleverly hidden pile of poop or lake of pee.
After a few months of these fun discoveries, we got smart and limited their access to our bedrooms and bathroom. Although we still find our Dachshunds’ special presents, at least we don’t collapse into a wet bed at the end of the night.
If your dog pees on your bed, shreds your linens or otherwise behaves badly in the bathroom, bedrooms or any other rooms, keep the doors to those rooms closed when you aren’t in them. Voila!
Watch the aftermath of this dog’s destruction of his family’s couch in this video:
4. Banish Clutter
The old saw “a place for everything, and everything in its place” is especially apt for homes with puppies and adult dogs who like to chew things.
Those brand-new $500 designer glasses? Mangled. Your beloved Prada shoes? Eaten. The spray bottle of Tilex? Let’s not go there…
Dogs love to chew; if they destroy your possessions, it’s your fault for giving them access to your stuff. Get smart, and put your things away when you aren’t using them, especially any kind of medication or cleaning products. If you’ve been meaning to organize your home, now is the time. Check out one of the bazillion websites that teach you how to manage clutter, and make sure your family knows where household items belong.
5. Crate the Beast
Left alone in an empty house, dogs can create a great deal of mischief. I’ve heard horror stories about destroyed sofas, shredded door jambs, half-eaten dog beds and clawed-up carpet. My dog, Miller, even eats books!
The best (and easiest!) way to keep your pup out of trouble is to crate train him and keep him confined when you aren’t home. Crate training can be a royal pain in the butt if your dog puts his paw down at spending time in his kennel, but the effort is worth having an intact home and a couch you can sit on.
Dog-Proofing Is Worthwhile
Although this list of tips might seem daunting (and expensive!), dog-proofing your home is definitely worth the time and expense.
Take things one step at a time, and make sure you follow through with behaviors that will keep your dog safe.