So, you're getting a dog! Prepare for long walks in the park, endless hours spent throwing a tennis ball, and lots of love and kisses.
Now, let's talk logistics. Once you've made this awesome decision (extra awesome points if you plan to rescue), you're going to have to take a few necessary steps to get your home ready beyond just buying a cute dog bed.
When my boyfriend Dan and I got our little dog Reggie, I was pretty unprepared for the general chaos that was about to ensue. Though both Dan and I had grown up with dogs (and, weirdly, both with dogs named Ginger), we really had no idea what this cute, cuddly ball of terror was going to do when she moved in and took over.
In the year and a half since, I've learned a thing or two about protecting my home and sanity from the shoe-eating, attention-whoring dog who is also one of the things I love most in this world. Shortly after getting Reggie, I started my job as editor of a pet magazine, which has no doubt taught me a ridiculous amount of doggie-care info, but a lot of what I picked up was through sheer trial, error, and frustration.
So, let me help you out. If you're preparing for your first pup, make sure to take these steps so your home will be ready for his arrival.
Get an Air Purifier
A purifier is important because a) sometimes pets smell, and b) your dog's immune system is not quite as capable as your own, and cleaner air is better for his health. Plus, it's good for you, too-a purifier will clear your air of yucky stuff like dust, dirt, and dander, and is an excellent tool for managing allergies and asthma.
You should look for a small, cordless one that you can put far out of paws' reach. The CritterZone purifier is the best thing that ever happened to the air in my apartment.
Swap Out Your Toxic Cleaners
Many common household cleaners are not safe for pets-and I'm not just talking about if your puppy accidentally gets into a bottle of 409. Your dog can be harmed by toxic chemicals simply by walking on a floor that's been cleaned with them and then licking his paws.
Look for products that specifically say they are safe for pets, or do what I do and just clean everything with white vinegar (it's a miracle product). For floors, try and avoid using product at all and just get a steam mop, which is great for heavy duty messes and doesn't leave behind anything that could potentially harm your four-legged friend.
Get More Towels Than You Think You'll Ever Need
Start hoarding towels as soon as possible. There will come a day when you bring your dog in from a muddy walk in the rain, go to the linen closet and realize you're out of towels, and watch helplessly as your filthy dog runs past you and straight onto the couch. Plus, using paper towels during potty training can get pretty expensive. Instead, designate a couple towels just for pee spots and then just wash and re-use. You'll save a ton of money and help the planet, too!
Tape Down Your Cords
Cellphone chargers, computer chargers, USB cords: These wires are like crack to dogs who don't have their chewing habits under control yet. So grab some duct tape (or any tape that covers the entire cord) and stick those precious suckers down to the floor. You never realize how instrumental they are in your life until some little puppy bites them in half.
Invest in Quality Toys and Healthy Bones
Speaking of proper chewing habits, teach your dog early what is and isn't okay to gnaw on by providing him with enough fun stuff that he leaves your toys alone. For dog toys, I love the indestructible, eco-friendly ones from Planet Dog. And for bones-which are great for your doggie's teeth-I recommend skipping the packaged stuff and going to your butcher instead. For about $3.50, we get Reggie a package of six marrow-filled shin bones that our butcher slices into one inch pieces. We keep them in the freezer and toss her one when we need to distract her; they're literally her favorite things in the world.
Have Some Enzyme Cleaner Handy
Enzyme cleaner is the only thing really capable of taking care of pet stains and odors. It's your best friend when your dog pees on your carpet or throws up in your car (both of which will inevitably happen). You can buy some anywhere pet products are sold (like PetSmart or Target)-or just make your own!
Get a Gate or a Crate
You may think that you'll never want to lock up your sweet puppy but, trust me, there are times that you definitely will. If you choose not to crate train your dog, you will at least want to get a gate so you can keep him locked in a room. Nothing good can come from letting a puppy run free when you're not home.
Dog proofing your home is about common sense and staying one step ahead of that furry creature who wants to-and probably will-take over your life. But at the end of the day, remember that proofing your home for a puppy is kind of like proofing your home for a clumsy elephant or a narcoleptic panda. Stuff is going to get broken, and you are going to have to deal with it, but your little dog will be so cute that you probably won't care. Have fun!
This article was originally published on The Daily Muse. For more on adorable pups, check out:
- 12 Animals Who Get What You're Going Through
- Dog-Friendly Travel: How to Jet-Set With Your Pet
- Are You Pet-Ready? 4 Things to Consider
Laura Drucker grew up in Chicago, Illinois and currently lives in Miami, Florida with her boyfriend and their awesome puppy. She is a proud law school dropout, and the editor of Tails Pet Media Group, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Laura Drucker.