Puppy-Proofing and Preparation: What You Need Before Bringing Puppy Home

Puppy ready to come homeWith help from last week’s DogTails post, you’ve now decided what breed is a good fit for you and your family, and perhaps you have even the found the perfect puppy already! Congrats! Bringing a puppy home requires a lot more work than just picking it up and putting it in the car, however. DogWatch Hidden Fences encourages all new puppy owners to make sure they are properly prepared to welcome their furry new addition. Here are our tips (and checklists) on how to do just that.

First things first: puppy-proofing your house. A new puppy is akin to a crawling baby or toddler; it can and will get into anything and everything, and has a compulsive tendency to put things in its mouth. Here are our suggestions to protect both your puppy and your property:

Puppy-Proofing Checklist
Inside:

____ Put away floor plants, decorations, shoes, and clothing. Puppies won’t know that plants aren’t food or that those decorations are choking hazards, and they certainly won’t be able to tell the difference between your beat-up old Keds and your brand-new Louboutins. And as they’re learning potty-training, they may also have difficulty telling the difference between their wee-wee pads and your cashmere cardigan. Best to remove anything that could be hazardous if ingested, or that you don’t want potentially turned into a chew toy or bathroom spot.

____ Secure or remove tablecloths and other hanging fabrics. These are an irresistible temptation for puppies, especially if they’ve begun to learn to play tug-of-war with you using a rope toy. It may look like fun to them, but one tug and everything on top of that cloth could come crashing down on top of them.

Westie on table____ Put away breakable and small objects on low-lying tables, ottomans, fireplaces, or other surfaces. Anything the puppy could break and/or eat should be removed from its reach. Also, enthusiastic tail-wagging has been known on many occasions to shatter a vase or glass or picture frame, so pay close attention to objects at tail-height.

____ Lock up cabinets and secure hazardous materials. Make sure your puppy doesn’t have access to chemicals, medications, alcohol, detergents, household cleaners, and any other substances that could be hazardous to it. One good way to do this is to invest in the cabinet-locking mechanisms used in baby-proofing. They can be found at your local superstore for a reasonable price and are generally easy to install yourself.

____ Secure phone wires and electrical cords. Puppies love to chew and tug on things, and they won’t know the difference between these cords and the rope you use to play with them. To avoid accidentally disconnected phone or electric service and your puppy potentially being shocked by chewing through the cord, we recommend tucking these cords as far out of reach as possible and covering them in plastic sheathing or PVC tubing, which you can find at your local pet store or hardware store.

____ If there are children in your household, make sure they put away their toys and any small parts or accessories. General rule of thumb? If the part is smaller than the puppy, put it away. Also, having kids put their toys away when they’re done will limit the amount of tears shed when the puppy chews their favorite stuffed animal or destroys their new Lego creation.

____ Double-check every nook and cranny for small or neglected items that could pose a danger to your puppy. Common overlooked places? Under and behind furniture, tables, cabinets, and appliances.

____ Consider having a DogWatch indoor barrier system installed to keep your puppy out of the places you don’t want him going, or that aren’t safe for him.  Contact your local DogWatch Dealer to learn about the options and to find out when your puppy will be ready to be trained.

Outside:

____ Clean up the yard. Put away any hoses, tools, toys, or other objects the puppy could chew on or try to eat.

Puppy_in_pool____ Prevent access to dangerous areas like the pool or well. Even though your dog’s breed may be known for its swimming prowess, it may take your puppy time to learn, and he may have difficulty finding his way back out of the pool. Puppies have also been known to slip through the grating over storm drains and wells. A DogWatch Hidden Fence system is the perfect way to keep your puppy out of hazardous areas like these! Contact your local DogWatch Dealer to learn more.

____ Secure lawn products and chemicals. This includes fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides, paint and paint thinner, antifreeze, and any other potentially hazardous chemicals. If you wouldn’t ingest it yourself, it should be kept well out of your puppy’s reach.

____ Check for escape routes and install a proper fencing system. If you plan on letting your puppy off-leash in your yard, you need to make sure there’s no way the puppy can escape into a neighbor’s yard, or worse, the street. Traditional fences do not always succeed at this; puppies can dig under the fences and even get themselves stuck in them. Your local DogWatch dealer will be happy to install a DogWatch Hidden Fence for you that will keep your new puppy both safe AND secure in the part of your yard you designate. Contact your local DogWatch Dealer to learn more.

Phew! Now that you’ve prepared your house and yard for the impending puppy invasion, it’s time to focus on what you’ll need to care for the puppy itself! There is a whole arsenal of supplies that you will need before you can safely bring your puppy home. Most, if not all of these, can be purchased online or at your local pet store. Some of the supplies we’ll mention can be considered optional, in that you will most likely eventually need them, but will probably be just fine without them initially. Ultimately, it’s up to you, and your puppy, which ones you’ll most need and when to add them to your kit. Read More

How to Avoid Getting "Tick"ed Off This Spring and Summer

Tick on leafIt’s that time of year again, folks; the time of year that dog owners the world over dread. That’s right, it’s flea and tick season.  To help you out, here’s our primer on how to protect your pets from the most dangerous of those two bloodsucking baddies: the tick. To learn more about the tick’s menacing counterpart, the flea, check out September’s blog post, found here.

There are four types of tick that are prevalent in North America: the Deer tick, the Brown Dog tick, the Western Black-Legged tick, and the American Dog tick (also known as the Wood tick), with the two Dog ticks being the most common. All of these ticks have been known to spread potentially fatal diseases in dogs and cats, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Canine Ehrlichiosis, and Canine Anaplasmosis, but tend to be less dangerous to humans (with the exception of the Deer tick, which can spread Lyme disease).

So how do you recognize these mini-menaces? Members of the arachnid family, like spiders or scorpions, ticks have four pairs of legs, can have a hard or soft shell, and are usually a shade of reddish-brown. They can be especially hard to notice or discover due to their incredibly small size; most ticks are roughly one-eighth of an inch long prior to feeding! After feeding, ticks can balloon up to half an inch long. Click here for a snapshot of common ticks and the diseases they can carry.

While found most frequently in wooded areas, ticks can lurk in the grass, shrubs, or other foliage in your lawn as well, so it’s best to employ as many preventive measures as possible to keep your pets safe. First and foremost would be utilizing a topical flea-and-tick medication like Frontline® Plus, Revolution®, or K9Advantix®, which can be purchased at your vet or at most local pet stores. One important thing to note when using a topical treatment: do NOT bathe your pet for at least two days, at the risk of washing the medication off. Lyme disease vaccines are also available for dogs, and can be administered by your vet.

Another good preventive measure is to trim any tall grass, bushes, and shrubs that could provide a shelter for ticks. Foliage and vegetation should be as close to the ground as possible. There are also some EPA-approved insecticides available that can be applied under shrubs and bushes and in other crevices where ticks are likely to hide. Don’t worry about spraying your grass; ticks prefer shaded, protected habitats, so those should be your focus. Read More

Bring On the Doggie Bling!

LucyIt’s a beautiful, sunny spring day and Lucy is strutting down Boston’s posh Commonwealth Avenue like she owns it. Her black hair is glistening in the mid-day sun, and crystals are sparking around her neck. All around her, people stop and stare as she strolls by, walking with all the poise and confidence of a top runway model. Lucy pauses for a moment and takes it all in; she’s high-fashion, and she knows it, and she loves the attention. So, who is this Lucy? An up-and-coming model? An about-to-be-discovered starlet? Guess again. Lucy (shown at right)  is a two year-old Chihuahua-Pug mix, and one of a growing number of posh puppies decked out in today’s newest canine fashion trend: “doggie bling.”

With celebs like Oprah, Jessica Simpson, and even Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner decking their pooches out in the finest jewels and couture brands, it’s no wonder we here at DogWatch Hidden Fences have been seeing a rise in the presence of bejeweled best friends. From Swarovski crystals to designer logos, today’s pooches have the chance to be more stylish than ever before.

High-end boutiques, couturiers, internet shops, and big-box pets stores alike are all carrying a large assortment of dazzling and trendy collars for your fashion-forward furry friend. A quick Google search for “doggie bling” turned up literally thousands of results. It would appear that what was once looked at as eccentric has, in fact, become “de mode.”

Dog Wearing Jewelled CollarIf your dog is already rocking a DogWatch collar (as all the coolest pets are these days!), not to worry; sleeker collar styles, like Coach’s signature logo collar, will fit just fine underneath it. You don’t need to limit yourself to collars, however; doggie bling exists in all manner of forms! There’s the sophistication of a Louis Vuitton logo leash, or perhaps a Gucci dog bag?

Not prepared to shell out hundreds of dollars for these designer dog items? Don’t worry, you are (definitely) not alone. If you want your Main Street pup to look like a Madison Avenue couture pooch without the hefty price tag, you can try one of these fun, affordable options. You can paint her nails with non-toxic puppy polish. (We hear Lucy prefers pink.) Many dog stores carry collars with faux jewels and unique designs that will make you dog stand out. For the crafty dog owner, adding a pendant charm to your pup’s collar or bedazzling a leash is another inexpensive way to keep up with the latest canine fashion trends.

Need some inspiration before embarking on your own “Project Runway”-style doggie fashion project? The Domestic diva herself, Martha Stewart, is the proud owner of two French bulldogs, and loves to create beautiful, charming and functional things for them. She regularly features dog- themed design projects on her website, ranging from simple – like fastening a silk flower to your dog’s collar - to challenging – like making a fleece-lined dog coat. Try them out, and you’ll be proud to answer back when someone asks you: “Where did you find that gorgeous item?”

For inside the home, bowls and beds fit for royalty abound. From gold food and water dishes to canopy beds, your dog can truly live the luxe life! Again, you can decorate these items at home, creating a custom item to suit your dog’s unique personality.

After all, you and she know she’s fabulous; why shouldn’t everyone else?

We invite you to share your photos of your decked-out dogs on the DogWatch Facebook page and via Twitter. The more fabulous the better!

Top photo credit: Jaclyn Mosher

Bottom photo credit: Gary Knight via Flickr

New Year’s Resolutions for You and Your Dog

We’re approaching the end of January. How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Need an extra boost to keep it up during the rest of 2011? Why not include your dog in the action?

The DogWatch Hidden Fences team thinks that dogs make everything more fun – and we’ve come up with some ideas to energize your resolutions with the help of man’s (and woman’s) best friend!

Exercising with a dogExercise With A Smile

Starting an exercise routine is a perennially popular resolution. Dog owners who take on this task can not only improve their own health but also the health of their pet. Bring your dog along on your walks and runs.  Your dog will get some much needed extra exercise, and their happy faces will encourage you to fight through those tough hills and that painful last mile.

If you prefer to exercise indoors, incorporate some fetching games into your warms up and cool downs. It will help you start and end your workout on a happy note. Furthermore, by including your dog in your routine, it will give you one more reason to stick with it. You don’t want to disappoint Max or Bella, right?

Flex Your Mind Muscles

If you’re anything like us, you love curling up on the couch next to your sleeping pup. While we all love these precious moments of relaxation, sometimes we also crave some fun activities that challenge us to think in new ways. These activities range from reading that new novel your co-worker raved about, mastering the New York Times crossword puzzle, or building that bookshelf that is still in pieces in the basement.

How do you find the time for these tasks? Get the whole family involved, including the family pet. Establish “puzzle hour” or “reading night,” and ask that everyone disconnect from their phones and computers and TVs during this brief period of relaxing “brain time.” As for the dog, give her her own learning activity. Stuff a KONG toy with her favorite snack, or place treats inside a “puzzle” toy (read about some examples here). She’ll be occupied and energized – just like the rest of the family.

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