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How Should I Prepare my Home for a New Puppy?

A new puppy and a rambunctious human toddler have a lot in common, so it might help to think of one when preparing your home for the other. Puppies often have two speed settings, zero and ten, so be prepared for a frenetic first day when one arrives from the shelter or pet store. There will be mistakes made on both sides, but only one side is likely to stain an expensive living room rug or accidentally chew through a computer cord. Preparing your home for a new puppy calls for some advanced planning and some improvisation.

First of all, it helps to look at your home from a puppy's perspective. This might mean getting low to the ground yourself and looking for potential hazards and attractions. Puppies like to crawl under tables and into dark openings out of curiosity.

Are there valuable items stored under the kitchen table, or electrical appliances kept behind a couch? They will have to be moved or rendered useless before the new arrival. Look under couches for small coins that could be swallowed or forgotten candies or other foodstuffs that could be harmful to animals. Old medications, cleaning supplies and other chemicals may also be hidden in crevices.

Young dogs often love to chew on everything they can get, just like a human baby enjoys putting small objects in his or her mouth. Unlike a human baby, however, a puppy has teeth strong enough to chew through telephone lines, stereo cables, and electrical cords. You'll want to get in the habit of unplugging electrical appliances when not in use. Use cable ties to organize computer and stereo wires, then lift the entire bundle out of the reach of the dog. A ground fault interrupter should prevent it from receiving an electrical shock, but the damage could already be done.

It is in the nature of animals to take an active interest in any new addition to the family. If you have other pets, you may want to keep them restrained until they can be trusted around a puppy. Consequently, smaller animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs or gerbils may prove too appealing to a young puppy. Change the height level of the smaller pet's cage or find a sturdier container. Allow a few days for all of the pets to adjust to each other. Be especially vigilant about maintaining food supplies -- some animals are more prone to attack a new addition if they believe their rations are threatened.

Perhaps the most common preparation for a new puppy is the introduction of newspaper flooring. Puppies don't pretend to have control over their body functions. Your best bet is to cover a generous area of your floor with newspapers and wait for him or her to do the rest.

Sometimes a puppy will telegraph his or her next move, but don't count on it. Instead, encourage it to use a spot closer to the door. Reduce the size of the area covered in newspaper until only a few pages remain in front of the door. Place some newspapers right outside the door to offer even more continuity. Eventually he or she should learn to go outside for eliminations, and you can start replacing all of those chewed wires and table legs.

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