Pet-proofing your home in 5 easy steps
We’ve all seen those hilarious pet-shaming pictures floating around on social media – the one where someone’s poor dog or cat are photographed next to some mischief with a note around their necks saying they’d torn down their curtains, chewed through the sofa cushions or eaten something entirely inappropriate.
You know the photographs I mean; they’re so funny, right?! Well, they are until they happen to you.
Just as you would for a child, when bringing a pet into your home, you need to check if the property is sufficiently pet-friendly.
These measures are not only for your own benefit (and the benefit of your possessions), but essential for a pet’s well-being, and it doesn’t even have to be difficult.
Just follow our super simple steps for a pet-proofed home and get back to playing with your new, adorable fuzzy friend!
Back to basics
Fences are literally the most important pet-proofing item a home can have – if you’re in a house that doesn’t have an enclosed yard space, don’t even think about bringing home a new puppy before installing one.
You’ll also need to ensure that the fence is of a proper height to accommodate your dog, should he or she grow any larger, and remember to place some boards underneath the gates to stop any cheeky tunneling out.
For cats, this measure is slightly less important, but nonetheless useful. To stop your feisty feline wreaking havoc on the local wildlife, attach a small bell to its collar. This way, you’ll also know if your new kitten is up to any mischief in a forbidden part of the house as well.
However, if you’re living in an apartment or unit-style property with little or no yard, the guidelines are a little different.
Do your pets have an outside space to urinate and spend ‘time-out’? If this outdoor space is on a balcony, check your balcony rail to ensure baby pets can’t accidentally slip through the gaps and that energetic, growing dogs can’t leap over the fence.
If you have absolutely zero outdoor space for your pets (not even a small balcony), you might want to reconsider your capability of having a pet.
Little kittens and puppies are so curious! They want to know everything about their new homes, and will be drawn to anything they see and smell.
While this is somewhat adorable (new puppies, for example, will love things with your scent on them – which is why your strongest-smelling items of clothing, such as socks, disappear first), it can also get annoying quite quickly.
So to keep things where they’re supposed to be, act as though you have a new baby in the house. Secure all drawers and cabinets with child-proof locks, keep plugs and power cords out of reach (and chewing distance!), and ensure all poisons and dangerous chemicals are stored safely away from curious little paws.
As we mentioned above, your new pet is likely to be very curious, and play with/eat things that are inappropriate or downright deadly for them. Here, the best way to avoid an emergency trip to the vet is to employ some old-fashioned organisational tricks and clean up all the clutter around your house. Some simple hacks include;
- Keep all shoes in a box near the door, to keep playful puppies from chewing through everyone’s sneakers.
- Hang keys, hats and sunglasses on a hook in the living room, thereby saving them from being vacuumed up by a hungry pet.
- Fold and put away clothes as soon as possible after doing laundry instead of leaving them in a pile for your pup or kitten to play in.
- Pack away photo-frames and knick-knacks on coffee tables, windowsills and bedside tables until your kitten learns coordination well enough to avoid knocking them over.
Pets and plants
Some plants that are rather innocuous to us can actually be life-threatening to our furry friends.
Foxglove, lupine, bird-of-paradise and even daffodils can be toxic to dogs, and will cause rashes, vomiting and diarrhea. Plant or lawn fertiliser can also seem very enticing to your pets, but will definitely cause trouble once ingested.
Simply do some Googling about problematic flora, take a turn about the yard for anything that shouldn’t belong, and pack away all tools and chemicals in a dog-proofed shed or garage.
Also keep in mind that indoor plants hanging from the ceiling or high up on windowsills will likely still be accessible for kittens, and ensure they’re safe.
When being around a small, cuddly creature who loves you, it’s hard to force common sense to take the driver’s seat. But taking care of a few simple, standard things before lapsing into ridiculous baby-talk with your new pet will prevent far more potential problems that you’d care to count. Things like;
- Always keep the toilet seat down to prevent dogs drinking harmful chemicals or little kittens from falling in and drowning.
- Relocate your kitchen garbage bins to under the sink or in a pet-proofed cupboard to avoid your food scraps being dragged around the house.
- Keep an eye on your new pet whenever he or she is in the house, at least until they graduate from basic training.
With all this said, the task of pet-proofing can seem quite daunting. However, none of these measures (with the exception of the fence) have to be forever.
Puppies and kittens are only destructive if they haven’t learned the rules yet, or are bored. Once you’ve disciplined your new pet, and they’ve had time to get familiar with their new surroundings, you won’t need to be so vigilant.
Pets also require plenty of mental and physical stimulation, so ensuring there’s plenty to keep your pet occupied is another no-brainer for saving your socks.
Of course, rental common sense also applies – so make sure you don’t adopt a pet or make any changes to a rental property without the written consent of your landlord!