fall 1996 cover
The American Bloodhound Club
An article from the fall 1996 issue

Puppy-Proofing Your Home
by Paula Travis

Ah, puppy breath!

Yes, it's happened to all of us at one time or another. We decide to buy a puppy. Some of us decide that the new puppy will be a bloodhound. Once the bloodhound-puppy decision has been made, we have to begin thinking about puppy-proofing our home.

Although puppy-proofing the house for an expected bloodhound puppy is similar to puppy-proofing for a small breed, there are some definite differences. First, consider the pup's size. A small breed can reach anything at floor level and can clear off the coffee table in a few weeks. In a short time your little puppy will learn to climb onto your bed and couch. Then consider what size your puppy will reach at six months and what he/she will be able to reach and therefore demolish.

Now consider that bloodhound puppy you are preparing to bring into your home. At 8 weeks the puppy will weigh about 20 pounds; At 12 weeks he/she will weigh 27-35 pounds; By 4 months of age, the puppy will weigh between 40 and 50 pounds. Now imagine what an animal of this size with the brain of a small puppy can reach and destroy. The safest thing to do is to suspend everything in your home six feet off the floor and leave it there until your bloodhound puppy gets his/her adult brain. That will be between 1 1/2 and 3 years of age. Since this is a completely impractical solution to the puppy problem, we have to remember that anything our puppy can reach is fair game in his or her eyes. We are the responsible party. We must keep harmful items and items that are dear to us out of reach of our pup's eager, exploring mouth.

It is best to begin puppy-proofing well in advance of the arrival day. Begin to see your house through the prospective newcomer's eyes. What are the things a puppy is most likely to find inviting? If this is not your first experience with a new puppy, think back to those previous puppyhoods and remember the things you lost to those inquisitive little guys.

It is probably best to go room to room (and don't forget the garage and yard) looking for hazards and items that need to be put in a higher spot. The first thing to look for are hazardous and dangerous materials. A spot of anti-freeze that has dripped onto the garage floor can kill a puppy who licks it up; many household chemicals and cleaning products are hazardous. Even health and beauty products can be hazardous if ingested in large quantities. Be sure to keep medication bottles out of the puppy's reach. Make sure that all these items are in, proper containers and up on shelves or in closed cabinets. Also look at electrical cords and outlets. You can't remove all electrical cords from the floor, but puppies have to be watched closely to be sure they don't chew the cords. Spraying Bitter Apple or some other bad tasting substance on the cords may act as a deterrent. Be sure the cords are unplugged before spraying. Even ash trays are a source of danger. A dog can get nicotine poisoning from eating butts from ash trays. Never leave non-safety matches within your dog's reach. A bloodhound can strike the matches by biting on the tips. Keep plastic bags out of reach; they can cause suffocation. Your puppy is much like your toddler; what is dangerous to one is dangerous to the other.

Then look for items that are easily chewed such as plastic, fringed rugs, books, shoes or other leather items, decorative items made of wood or fabric, baskets, throw pillows and children's toys. Watch for scarves and tablecloths that hang down and make tempting pull toys.

Many plants, both indoor and outdoor varieties, can be toxic to pets. Ivy leaves, lily of the valley, daffodils, poinsettia leaves, mistletoe and rhubarb are only a few poisonous plants. Even the bark of some trees can be toxic if chewed. Check your gardening book or ask your nursery if you have any doubt about the safety of your plants.

Look for physical dangers outdoors. Sharp metal, broken glass, barbed wire and sharp tools can cause serious injury. Small rocks and gravel can be swallowed, leading to death. Puppy-proof your fences by plugging up holes and filling in low areas where the pup could crawl under the fence. Be prepared to fill in holes in the yard because bloodhound puppies love to dig.

The pup's toys can also be a source of danger. Be sure that stuffed animals don't have eyes or noses that can be chewed off and swallowed. Vinyl or plastic dog toys can be ripped to shreds and the small pieces ingested. Be sure all toys are size-appropriate. A small ball lodged in the throat will block the pup's air passage. Throw toys away that have become tattered and worn from chewing.

After you have removed, raised up and closed up everything that you think your puppy is likely to get into and destroy, you will probably learn from experience that "uh, oh" you missed something. Or you got a little careless and forgot to put something out of reach. Maybe you forgot to close the closet door or left your purse unzipped. Nobody's perfect. You have to expect that an animal as curious as a bloodhound puppy is sure to outwit you sometimes, so just keep your sense of humor. You are going to need it. The best way to keep your puppy from being destructive is to use a crate. When you leave home or you are not able to keep a constant eye on the pup, crate your puppy. This not only aids in housebreaking, but keeps the curious scamp out of trouble. Put a chewie or a favorite toy in the crate. Of course he/she may destroy the crate mattress. Believe me, it's been done.

Puppy-proofing is not a one-time effort. Keeping your pup and your house safe and undamaged requires constant vigilance. It only takes one mistake to seriously injure or kill that wonderful bloodhound puppy.

Paula Travis

This article appeared in the fall 1996 issue of the American Bloodhound Club Bulletin.
No reproductions are permitted without the consent of the ABC Bulletin editor and the author.
Reproduced here with permission.

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