No matter whether you are bringing a playful puppy home, or a mature dog, you have to make sure there are no hazards in your house and yard that could hurt your new addition to the family.
Inside Your Home
Puppies and Grown Up Dogs
If this is your first experience with a puppy, or it has been a few years since you had a young dog, you need to recognize that a puppy comes with greater challenges than an older dog. For one thing, puppies love to chew; in fact, they have to chew things in order to develop their adult teeth. They aren't particular about what they chew, however—your favorite shoes, books left on the floor, children's toys, furniture legs, articles of clothing—almost anything they can sink their little teeth into is fair game. You need to be vigilant about what you leave lying around that they can access. This is not only so favorite possessions are not ruined, but because some things are not good for puppies to chew. Parts of toys that can break off when a puppy chews them can be a choking hazard or cause an abdominal obstruction if swallowed. So, the first step is to walk through your house and see what needs to be put away, or put up, out of the range of the pup.
This is not to say that older dogs can't cause similar problems. In their case, height is another consideration. A large dog or a dog with long legs can reach amazing heights when he stretches. You may find that anything left on tables, desks, or kitchen counters is in "play" for him. He may be anxious when you first bring him home, and this can bring on mischievous or even destructive behavior for a while until he gets acclimated and feels truly at home. Again, tour through the rooms of the house and see if there are things that should be put away, closets closed, etc.
Where Will Your Dog Stay?
You also need to make decisions about what areas of your home are off limits to your dog, and where you want him to stay while you are gone at work during the day, or leave the house for other reasons. Dogs left alone for long periods of time can get bored and this can cause them to search for something to interest them or focus their attention on. Unfortunately, this might include chewing on an electrical cord, or tearing up the upholstery on a chair or couch, or ripping up a pillow. Chewing electrical cords can cause not only tragic shock or even death for your pet, but also could start a fire in your home. Many dogs never pay any attention to electrical cords, so you may not have anything to worry about. But if your dog does start to chew on one, an option is to spray the cord with a bitter agent such as bitter orange, designed to discourage chewing.
Many pet owners select a room of the house to confine the dog while they are away and make sure that room is truly pet-proofed. The kitchen can be ideal because it usually has a tile floor or other surface that can be easily cleaned if the dog has an "accident" while you are away, and the entrance to the kitchen can be easily closed off through the use of a baby gate or other type of removable gate. Remember, dogs are pack animals. They love having their own cozy den to stay in until you get home. If they have a comfortable bed, water and food, even a relatively small kitchen can be ideal.
Some dog owners prefer to confine their dog to a crate if they are away. If a young dog is brought up to be "crate trained", this can be a good solution, but an older dog that is suddenly confined to a small crate may become terrified by that experience.
There's another danger to consider whatever room you choose: drawers and cabinets. Dogs are clever and resourceful. They can learn to open almost any type of cabinet and drawer, partially out of curiosity and perhaps because they smell something interesting inside. Many people keep cleaning supplies or other toxic substances under the kitchen sink. Dogs can chew the tops off of plastic bottles, and they can break glass containers by knocking them over. Be absolutely certain you secure these cabinets with safety latches. The cabinets and drawers with food should also be secured. A number of things humans consume are very dangerous for pets; chocolate is an example. A dog that gets hold of a bag of chocolates will eat the bag, the chocolate and the tin foil wrapping—and possibly get very sick.
Not The Garage
Even if you live in a mild climate, the garage is not a good place to leave your dog. There are too many things that could hurt him. Antifreeze, which may have dripped onto the garage floor, is one of the most dangerous substances; dogs are attracted to its sweet taste, and even a small amount is fatal if swallowed. Over time, other toxic substances may have been spilled on the garage floor, too. Dogs tend to sample things with their mouths, which can be a mistake that leads to tragedy.
And think of all the other toxic things we typically store in our garage: paint and paint thinner, glue and other adhesives, pest control products. No, the garage is not the proper habitat for a dog.