Local Leash: Pet Proofing the Home: The Joys of Chewing on Cords and Eating Tissue Paper

Puppies, kittens, dogs and cats find a lot of joy in the silliest and most dangerous things. Living with pets means making adjustments to the home to keep them safe.

Some dogs are just big puppies that never grew up. I once heard someone say that having a dog is like having a perpetual two year old in the house. They can and will get into anything.

You learn quickly after living with dogs or cats that you can't leave your drinks on tables that are parallel to wagging tails, or leave your dinner on the TV tray just for a second while you leave to get a drink.

Pet proofing the home is a task that never ends.

I'll never forget the second week with my first cat, Charlie. I set down a big box of full-sized donuts on the coffee table and went to get some milk. When I returned, Charlie was taking a donut bigger than his own head out of the box with his mouth. But that's one of the joys of living with pets - that hilarious image still makes me smile 15 years later. And just a few months ago, Charlie was caught red-pawed after pulling dad's chicken breast off the plate and onto the living room floor while dad was in the kitchen for just a second.

"Like a baby, puppies don't know what can hurt them until after it hurts them," said Jason White, Pet Products Manager at  in Montrose.

According to Jason, puppy proofing or even dog or cat proofing your home requires all the same steps as baby proofing, with extra precaution for chewing and potty training for young puppies.

"There's a very good product that I like called Bitter Yuck. When you spray that, dogs won't chew there because it tastes bad," said Jason.

Jason recommends bundling and securing electrical cords with a cord protector, available at , and spraying the cords and protector with the Bitter Yuck. He also advises spraying it on furniture, since it's water soluble.

"That way," said Jason, "you're pet proofing for your sake as well as for the puppy's sake."

As I mentioned in my previous article, , a crate is a wonderful tool for safety, especially for puppies. As long as the crate is introduced properly and the puppy has time to get used to it, he will feel content when left there while you're away and will stay out of trouble.

Crates also can have multiple uses. When I was painting my house, I put my two cats in the dog crate to keep my nightmare of painted kitten paw prints on the carpet from becoming a reality.

Jennifer Joslin, whose puppy Abby was featured in my last article, says that Abby is pretty good in the house, except for her fetish for tissue.

"I had to get a trash can with a lid for the bathroom because Abby would just grab all the tissues and tear them up into pieces."

Trash cans with secure lids are one common adjustment made by people with pets and kids, as are cabinet locks. The chemicals under the kitchen sink can be very dangerous. I found some great kichen cabinet locks at a  just last week.

When pet-proofing the home, it's best to look at things from their perspective. Get on your hands and knees and look around. You'll likely notice things that would look quite enticing to a perpetual two year old. Also, keep the supply of toys interesting. Put some away for a few months and re-introduce them later.

The most important step in keeping pets safe at home, according to Jason of Petsmart, is to get your dog enrolled in puppy classes as soon as possible. "12 weeks old is when you can start puppy class," said Jason. "By six months they are getting into stuff and into trouble, unless you train them to listen to you."


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