When Mookie came to live with me at the age of 9 weeks, my first move was to puppy-proof the house. The kitchen was a top priority. I knew we’d be spending a lot of time there, and I didn’t want him to get into trouble.
Puppy-proofing a kitchen means getting down on your dog’s level — literally. You need to see things from a puppy’s-eye view to figure out the trouble spots. You also need to think like a puppy. If you were a baby that was full of energy and looking for things to eat and chew on, what might catch your attention?
A good rule of thumb is to never leave your puppy alone in the kitchen unsupervised. If you can’t watch him, secure him in a safer room, like a puppy-proofed bathroom. Or consider a crate or exercise pen, where he can spend time when you can’t keep an eye on him.
Here are nine potential kitchen hazards and what you can do to keep your puppy safe and out of trouble when he encounters them.
1. Toxic Liquids And Powders
If you’re like most people, you store cleaning solutions in your kitchen cabinets, probably under the sink. Dish soap, dishwashing detergent, drain unclogger — all kinds of toxic liquids and powders lay just beyond the cabinet door. If you leave the cabinet open by mistake, or your puppy learns how to open it, he will have access to an array of poisonous substances.
Use baby locks to keep your puppy from being able to open the cabinet doors and gain access to cleaning products that are stored away. Or, remove all products on your puppy’s level and relocate them to higher ground. Storing them on a high shelf where your pup can’t reach them is the safest solution.
It won’t take long for your puppy to figure out that food is kept in the kitchen. This not only includes his kibble and treats, but also human foods he shouldn’t have, like chocolate, raisins and nuts. A particular danger is candy and gum made with a sweetener called xylitol, which causes liver failure in dogs.
Keep all food items in a locked pantry, or in high cabinets where your dog can’t reach them. Don’t leave any food items lying around where your puppy can get at them. You’d be surprised at how fast a puppy can snatch something off a table or countertop.
Many people keep their vitamins in the kitchen, usually in a cabinet or on a countertop. If your puppy gets into these and ingests an oil-based vitamin, like D or A, he can become seriously ill.
Keep vitamins in a locked pantry, or in a cabinet affixed with baby locks. Or put them on a high shelf that your puppy can’t reach. Be careful not the leave them out on a counter or table, and make sure you don’t drop any vitamins on the floor when you are taking them out of the bottle.
If you keep plants in your kitchen within your puppy’s reach, he may find himself chewing on them. If they are toxic, you’ll end up with a sick puppy.
Keep all plants out of your puppy’s reach. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control site and make sure your plants aren’t on the toxic plant list. If you have a poisonous plant in your kitchen, consider giving it away to someone without pets.
Grillers, coffee makers, ovens and stoves all pose hazards to your puppy. If you have a young dog that is old enough to reach up to accidentally turn a knob or pull an appliance down on him, you might end up with a fire in your home—or a dog with serious burns.
Be sure to unplug all your appliances when not in use, and don’t leave your puppy alone unsupervised in the kitchen. If she shows interest in the stove or oven (he may smell food being cooked there), discourage him by distracting him with a toy or something to gnaw on.
The kitchen trashcan will be a favorite of your puppy, who can easily smell any food that’s been tossed. If he gets into the garbage, he can swallow something harmful, like chicken bones or coffee grinds.
Keep the trashcan secured behind a locked door, if you can. Or put it in a cabinet with a baby lock so your puppy can’t open it and again access.
7. Electrical Cords
Puppies love to chew, and any cords within reach may end up in you puppies mouth. Your pup can be electrocuted if he bites into an electrical cord that’s plugged in.
Unplug appliances when they aren’t in use. For items that need to be plugged in at all times, place the cord up high where the puppy can’t reach it.
Look under the kitchen sink and you’ll see some plumbing. A curious, energetic puppy can cause havoc under a sink if he knocks loose a pipe or two. The result will be a flood in your kitchen.
Keep the cabinet under your sink secured with a baby lock. This will prevent your puppy from being able to open the cabinet with his nose or a paw.
Puppies love to chew on wood. The corners of cabinets, the legs of the kitchen table — all these items will be attractive to a puppy that wants to sink his teeth into something solid. You probably don’t want your furniture getting chewed up, and you definitely don’t want your puppy swallowing a bunch of wood splinters.
You can protect your puppy and your wood surfaces in a number of ways. Try a bitter spray, sold in pet stores, designed to discourage chewing. If this doesn’t work, consider wrapping furniture legs and cabinet corners in plastic. Use bubble wrap with cellophane tape to cover the wood surface. Although it won’t look good, it will protect your wood until your puppy outgrows the wood chewing stage. (Be sure to give your puppy appropriate items to chew on, like toys and natural products designed for teething puppies).
Remember that when your puppy gets older, he will be less energetic and less likely to get into trouble. In time, you’ll be able to get rid of most of those baby locks on the cabinets and won’t have to worry so much.