Moving into a new home can be something of an emotional time; for everyone involved. After the upheaval of the move itself; after belongings are unpacked, pictures hung and the new neighbourhood explored, it’s not uncommon to start to feel like something is missing. Maybe it doesn’t feel quite as homely as you had anticipated; or maybe you’re considering the addition of a furry friend now you have a place to call your own.
There are plenty of options for pets for beginners – from goldfish and terrapins to cats and guinea pigs – but nothing says home quite so much as an adorable puppy racing to the door to meet you each day. Dogs offer unconditional love and companionship and are known for being both instinctive and adaptable to human emotions. Subsequently they can be great support and company, especially if you live alone. There are plenty of breeds to choose from to suit whatever size home you have – even those with limited outdoor space. Some aspects of your lifestyle will change however as a puppy needs to be trained and supported until it grows into its new family and environment. The rewards are well worth the investment, however, so we spoke to property mogul Tamara Wrigley for her 5 tips to ensure that you and your pup are well into the happily-ever-after stage for many years to come.
Many of the strategies parents use to childproof their home come in handy with puppies too. Before the puppy moves in, go through every room in the house and deal with any things that might present a safety risk. All cords should be well out of reach or firmly secured in chew proof tubing. Doors and cupboards that may be easily accessible should have childproof latches attached and everyone in the house trained to keep the toilet lid down (or just latch it). Blocking off areas you don’t want them to go into can be useful too – rather than dealing with the mess just don’t give them access. Child safety gates work fine here.
One of the ways puppies explore their new environment is by chewing through everything that stands in their way. They will also chew anything that smells like you, which in your bedroom is basically everything. From toilet rolls to Prada heels, TV remotes to chair legs – nothing is sacred, and the damage can be devastating. Habits such as kicking your shoes off on the floor or draping your jacket over a chair when you get home or leaving wardrobe doors open should be rectified immediately. Every new thing or space is a chance for them to indulge their curiosity. Keep lids on rubbish bins and wastepaper baskets, and scraps of carpet secured temporarily around furniture legs or edges will prevent them becoming pseudo chew toys. Distraction such as actual chew toys can be a great help.
Choke and swallow proofing
Just as you need to remove things so the dog can’t chew them, you should remove things for their own safety too. The condition called pica is common amongst many puppies, causing them to eat things that are not food. Just like children, the list of things dogs will get into their mouths is endless and if they can’t chew it, they may swallow it instead which presents a choking hazard. Buckets of clothes pegs, remote controls with loose backs that could easily release batteries, socks, earrings, razors, light globes, dental floss, sofa cushions and more. There are so many things that get randomly left around the house that can present sincere danger. You only have to google ‘things dogs have swallowed’ to get a sense of the possibilities. As is the case for children you should also keep cleaning cupboards locked and dangerous liquids and objects well out of reach.
If your dog is inside a lot of the time, they will need a routine when it comes to toileting. Start toilet training your puppy as soon as they move in, remembering that consistency is key and establishing a routine will get you both into a good rhythm and reduce the frequency of ‘accidents’ in the home. Your puppy should be taken outside first thing in the morning and last thing at night and be able to access an outside area regularly throughout the day. Identifying a spot in the garden they can use every time is useful too and if they do go inside by mistake, make sure you clean it well so they can’t identify it later for a repeat performance.
Sometimes a dog becomes another part of the furniture and sometimes a dog can take over an entire house. Putting protective rugs over sofas can reduce clumps of unsightly hair accumulating and training the dog to go to the toilet outside will minimise smells in the home. The comparison with children is again useful – is it a house that children live in or the children’s house? If toys and dog paraphernalia are strewn all over the house, not only does your house look untidy and potentially put people off from visiting, it also teaches the dog they have some ownership of the space – which they don’t. Have a designated box with a lid for puppy toys (this keeps them tidied away and also contains smells that some much loved dog toys can accumulate. Wash soft toys and blankets regularly and get fresh air in the house to minimise the smell of wet dog/dog pee/dog food/hairy dog and so on. Yes, they’re adorable, but they are also still an animal so pay attention to the basics and the two of you will be loved up in domestic bliss with a long and happy future together ahead of you.