What could be more loving or more adorable than a puppy? The beating little heart, the nourishing, lashing tail, the lapping tongue. We couldn't imagine our life without the love and attention of a playful puppy.
The first weeks of your puppy's life are critical for socialization and long-term health. While you're with your puppy as much as possible, there are times when you're not by his side because of work or social outings that involve humans only! In these cases, you have to take steps to ensure your best friend is as comfortable as can be until you return home for love and bonding.
"Think about a baby," says Jean-Paul Bonnelly, a Dallas-based "ambassador" of canine behavior at Republic of Dog, a dog-training center and consultancy in Texas. "You need to baby-proof the house."
Following are some tips for making your house a pet-friendly haven.
Be sure to secure cabinets that hold cleaners and other household chemicals with latches and locks. Toss out ant traps and rodent baits that may be tucked in corners or posted outdoors. Install safety plugs in electrical outlets. Be mindful of lamp cords and computer wires that can be chewed or tugged.
Also consider crate training when you are away from home. This is a great way to ensure your puppy's safety when you are away.
When it comes to sweets, keep chocolate all to yourself. Even if you want to share with your puppy, it's best not to. Chocolate contains chemicals that can be harmful to dogs, and the darker the chocolate, the greater the risk. Instead, give your puppy his own healthful treat.
You and your puppy both love to be entertained! While you're away from the house, if you'd like to leave the radio or television on, be sure it's at a comfortable listening level for him, which is barely above a whisper. Plus, shows with squeals and yelps like soap operas or the news can have unpleasant sounds. Better to let the puppy enjoy ambient noise: the ding of an elevator bell down the hall, the growl of a delivery truck, the roar of a jet overhead, the ring tone of the phone in the den. These are sounds the puppy needs to be familiar with, which will help him become completely comfortable in his new home with you!
(One more tip: Make sure to keep your smoke detector batteries updated. Those grating, high-pitched beeps that relentlessly pulse when the battery juice is running dry can be hard on your puppy's ears.)
The pool is another fantastic place for bonding—and baby-proofing. Install a removable mesh fence or a surface safety net. Make use of pool alarms that detect waves or underwater movement just in case your puppy gets curious and tumbles in. Pool time is playtime, so make it safe and secure for your best friend!
When your puppy is 5 or 6 months old, allow him to explore the pool. Let him jump in and play fetch. Just be sure to help him and be with him every step of the way.
"The most important thing is to teach your dog how to get out of the pool," stresses Bonnelly. "A dog doesn't know that a pool has steps."
But he'll learn those steps. And when he does, your adorable best friend will have a new favorite playtime.