So, you’re now the happy owner of an adorable puppy – congrats! Building a relationship with your new companion is an exciting and fulfilling journey, but it’s not all naps and games of fetch. Your new pup will require a lot of work and care, which is why Erin Bokuniewicz, a pet expert at Pet Supplies Plus, has compiled a list of 10 tips that will help you safely care for your curious new puppy by properly puppy-proofing your home and yard.

Tidy Up More

With a puppy roaming around, it’s important to stay tidy and keep things off the ground. Certain objects are more of a choking hazard than others, but a few things to be mindful of are remote controls (and other items with batteries), loose change, socks or nylons, plastic bags and jewelry. These items are small and usually left on a coffee table or the floors. Instead, designate bins in living areas to store these items.

Keep Trash Cans Out of Reach

A puppy’s fascination with trash can make for a terrible mess. Make sure to invest in trash cans that have a tight lid, a heavy base or a locking mechanism to avoid your puppy from opening the can or knocking it over. Aside from ripped open trash bags being stinky and dirty, certain food items and objects can be harmful and result in airway obstructions or make your puppy sick.

Close or Gate Doorways

Eager to explore, puppies will wander anywhere they can and the easiest way to keep your puppy out of certain areas – like the bathroom – is to keep doors closed. Keeping doors and lower cabinets closed will help keep them out of trouble, but if that sounds too difficult or if it’s giving your puppy anxiety, a walk-through gate is another option. This way, they have the ability to roam around, but you are in control.

Keep Items Sealed

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and a seemingly insatiable appetite, making it crucial for owners to keep dog food and treats in sealed containers. A great way to keep your pup from sniffing out their food is to use air tight food containers. This will help avoid them digging around for their dry food. It’s also helpful to have a container with wheels, which makes it easier to stow away when it isn’t feeding time.

Give them Space

It’s important your puppy feels that a certain part of your home is just for them and the easiest way to do this is to make sure their crate, bed, blanket and favorite toys are constantly available. These items will help your puppy feel more comfortable and also keep them distracted for extended periods of time. And, unless your puppy has soiled their toys, don’t wash them. Allowing your pup to smell their scent and feel ownership of their items will help them adjust to their new home quicker.

Keep Height in Mind

Low shelves, cubbies, coffee tables and items on the floor of your home are right at eye level of a puppy. Move items that are dangerous to your puppy or important to you higher up – keep in mind their wagging tail! A puppy’s tail has more power than you think, especially when they are happy, and it can knock down and potentially break items, or turn them into chew toys.

Hide Hazards

Puppies will find their way behind couches, under desks and in cabinets, so it’s vital to make sure hazardous items are either stored out of reach or in a cabinet with a lock. Of course, if your pup ingests a chemical, call poison control immediately. It would also be wise to cover cords in conduit, in a PVC pipe or attach them to the wall to make sure teething puppies aren’t tempted to chew. Medications should also be kept in a medicine cabinet or in a locked cabinet in the kitchen to avoid having them fall into the wrong mouth, especially since some prescription medications have a sweet smell and may attract your new pal.

Toxic Plants

Hundreds of plants are poisonous to dogs, like American Holly, Aloe, Boxwoods, Daisies – the list goes on. In fact, munching on any type of plant, including grass, will almost always upset your pup’s digestive system and may even result in vomiting. It’s best to keep house plants on shelves or hung from the ceiling, and discourage puppies from eating any sort of plant outside.

Invest in a Fence

Fenced backyards are great for allowing your puppy to get some fresh air, but even if you already have a fence, do a quick safety assessment before letting your pup roam freely. You’ll want to look for any holes underneath or weak areas that would let your curious puppy escape. If you don’t have a fence, consider an in-ground fence to keep your puppy contained in the backyard and prevent them from running off.

Pool Time

If your yard has a pool, you’ll want to take steps to make sure your puppy is safe at all times. While you’re in the yard or enjoying the pool, use a tie-out to keep your pup at a safe distance – it only takes seconds for them to accidentally slip in. Another option is an outdoor play pen if you have a smaller dog, but puppies – just like children – should not be left unattended in a yard with a pool. If it’s in your budget, fencing in another part of your property could be an option, but if not, more outdoor walks should satisfy your pup as well.

Water and Shade

Letting your puppy exhaust themselves by running around outside is fun for them and great for owners – less rambunctious energy indoors leads to less troublemaking. And while puppies have a ton of energy, it’s important to let them expend that energy in a safe environment. Make sure there’s plenty of shade and access to water wherever they’re running around. Whether you’re at a park or in your back yard, collapsible bowls are easy to clean, portable and help keep dogs hydrated.

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