Months before we knew the date of when we could collect Flo, our preparation work began. We knew how important it was to make sure our home a safe place to bring our puppy back to, so that when she was here, our sole focus was on puppy training and cuddles.
Not only it is essential to puppy-proof a house, for ease, their safety plus the protection of your own belongings, but it is exciting and somewhat cathartic on the lead up to having your four-pawed friend join the family. It really starts to feel real, especially in our case as we waited eight months for our ‘due date’.
By all means, we’re not the experts, but for those of you looking for some insight and comfort on what you can do to puppy-proof your home and how to prepare for it, we thought we’d share with you the approaches we took.
We wanted to ensure that our puppy, Flo, had a space that was all for her own. For us, this was an important concept that we felt would help us with our training but also ensured that Flo had a safe zone, a commonplace to sleep and somewhere really where she could just have some time off should she ever get annoyed of too many cuddles.
For us, this also meant that we could store all the main essentials we needed day-to-day and that they were always in an arm’s reach for when we needed them. As for what these essentials are, I will come back to that shortly.
When we are at home, the most sociable room for us is the living room. Outside of sleeping, this is the place where we tend to spend most of our time. Backing onto the room, is our conservatory which leads onto our garden, and due to all of the above, felt that it made the most sense to turn our conservatory into Flo’s bedroom.
The simple access to the garden was a big one for us as well as the ease of converting it into a puppy room. The room needed a clear out from all the plants we had in there, to fairy lights, to storage and we had a blank canvas to play with.
The room itself needed a clear out to house all of Flo’s new bedroom essentials, and we ensured that all the plants previously in the room, were now placed o the windowsill out of reach.
Anticipating a fair few accidents in the coming months during toilet training, we chose to lay the floor with laminate to really allow us an easy cleaning process.
Flo’s puppy crate is essentially her main sleeping area. Inside the crate we have a comfortable dog bed with towels and a few of her favourite toys. The crate acts as the main zone of where Flo sleeps, finds comfort and is given any special chew treats.
What is useful with the crate is the opportunity to give you and the puppy space and a time out, as well as for transporting purposes.
The crate door is always open, free for Flo to go in and out when she feels like doing so, yet we tend to close the crate door during periods to calm her down. When we start to see that she is overtired, we use this tactic for a few minutes until she settles.
To get her used to having a closed crate, occasionally when she is enjoying tucking into her chews inside it, we had shut the door just for that exposure to it. The key thing here is, the crate should never be a negative experience and only used for short amounts of time. Whilst we have never kept her in longer than an hour in the crate, the maximum length of time should be around four hours.
In the weeks leading up to bringing your puppy home, you are probably already so excited to welcome home your floofer, that you have started on your checklist for everything you need. If not, start as soon as possible and avoid doing this before your puppy arrives. Having a puppy around, especially before their full vaccinations are complete, can at times be a little challenging leaving the house if there is no one around to support with pup-sitting.
What you will really need to do is consider all areas where you will be allowing your puppy to roam. Seek out each room and remove or place any decorations that are easily sniffed at out of reach. You, of course, do not want your puppy to choke or eat any items that can cause complications, nor would you really want a decorative piece to be ruined.
In terms of furniture, keep a close eye on how your dog interacts with it. If you spot chewing habits, be consistent in distracting them with a toy that is good to chew and reward them when doing so. it may take months until the habit is broken but just keep on it, it will pay off.
Since day one, we have followed the routine that the breeders created for our puppy in terms of feeding. This helps create a routine that you can work around, and eventually, you will realise certain traits to follow with that, that you can plan into your daily life. Noticing and understanding these habits will take time, so patience is very important again.
Especially routines around toilet training, be rigorous and comply. You will more than likely have months of interrupted sleep, but by sticking to regular breaks will avoid any morning surprises when you greet your puppy. One of the most useful tips I learnt was, however many months our puppy is, is how many hours they can hold their bladder for.
We were very fortunate that Flo was happy to sleep alone since the day we brought her home. It is really important that from the beginning you decide on where you want your puppy to sleep and stick to it. Whether for you having your puppy crated, in your bedroom, or solely on the ground floor is the rule, stick with it.
As we decided the living room and conservatory would be the main focus rooms during Flo’s puppy training, we bought a baby gate to create a barrier from the living room onward. At night, the baby gate is closed as well as the door. During the day, say we are cooking, the door is open, but the gate still locked. Once Flo is a little older and fully toilet trained, we will keep the baby gate in front of the stairs instead.
The baby gate has also been a huge help with introducing Flo to Cuthbert, our seven-year-old Blue Russian. Having introduced our puppy to our cat took far longer than I had expected, but I think that will lend itself well to its own post a little later down the line.I will be sharing more tips and advice in the coming weeks, but is there something specific that you would like to know?
Lots of love,