A Dog’s Eye View: Puppy Diaries: Dress rehearsal
August 2, 2012
It's referred to as puppy-proofing. You wander through your home, almost on hands and knees, trying to make note of every possibly dangerous thing your puppy might try to investigate or chew or rearrange. You look for areas where she might get stuck, fall down or otherwise harm herself. You see electrical cords you'd forgotten were there, stairs that now seem perilously and perishable plants that are at the perfect height for puppy noses and mouths.
Interestingly, I've found that a lot of what I needed to learn to safe-proof our house for my older dog, Zoey, can be used when preparing the house for our new puppy — including gating those scary stairs. As I pass through the rooms, I begin my mental choreography of objects: baby gates here, plants moved higher there, cords hidden or blocked, and breakable objects taken from their tempting place on the coffee table or side trunk.
Then I begin my list of things I'll need to find amongst Zoey's treasures or to purchase anew. I recover the stuffable Kongs as well as the tug, squeak and newer plush toys. I extract from the depths of my dog cupboard the smaller ceramic bowls, a heart-studded puppy collar and a love-worn leather leash. From friends, I secure two small crates — one for home and one for the car — and make sure I have beds or bedding for them as well as for the rooms we will inhabit. The crates will prove invaluable tools for giving the puppy a safe, secure place of her very own when I'm not around, and crate training will be near the top of my "what to teach puppy" list, starting on Day 1. A borrowed X-pen — a wire portable structure that can be formed into an enclosure and latched — will be used to keep the puppy either in or out, allowing my Zoey some relief from the inevitable onslaught of puppy energy and enthusiasm. I visually block out her sleeping, eating and potty areas and diagram for my husband where and how she will be taken outside to relieve herself.
Also, I made her first appointment with my much-appreciated and trusted veterinarian with whom she'll have her first physical/wellness exam. Much like getting a new or used car, you want to make sure all the parts are there, in place and performing normally. These first exams are extremely important in that they create a baseline of health for me and the veterinarian from which succeeding exams can be judged.
From my mental files of past experiences, questions pop up. The list ebbs and flows as answers emerge. I think I'm ready, I feel I'm ready. But only time and my new puppy will tell.
Lisa Mason is an experienced dog training instructor with the Total Teamwork Training group. Her specialties include new puppy owner education and management.
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