Friday, June 7, 2013

How to Beagle Proof (or Puppy Proof) your home

Look at the cute little guy on the left. He is so relaxed and angelic looking lying on the office floor in the dog trainer shack.

It is difficult to believe that only moments ago he made a huge mess in the kitchen. The lovely Shane and I went out to run an errand. We were only gone for about an hour. When we came home we found that he had discovered some sort of way to get the pantry door open. Trash and a few food items were scattered all over the house.

It appears that we are going to have to install a latch on the bi-fold doors. I have owned beagles for many years. you would think that I would know better. We recently added the pantry to the kitchen when we moved the washer that was there to a new laundry room area. I beagle proofed the house shortly after Copper's arrival to our home but I did not think a latch was necessary on the pantry door. It closed pretty tightly without the latch.  Well, beagles of any age and pretty much all puppies are very persistent when they smell something that they like. Of course the food and the trash proved to be a huge temptation to our beagle friend.

Copper was simply doing what was instinctual to him. He was very proud of himself when we got home. He could not understand why the lovely Shane and I were not as enthusiastic.

Most of the time, I strongly encourage my students to crate train their puppies and to put the dogs in their crates when you are not home so that incidents like the one Copper experienced today do not occur. There is an exception to this, however. You may remember that when I first adopted him, Copper exhibited very bad separation anxiety. With extreme cases of separation anxiety, the dog will get so scared that he will hurt himself attempting to escape confinement. Copper turned his crate over, pushed out the mat and bent the bars in just an hour or so. When he is not confined, he usually does fine.

If you have a puppy or any breed of scent hound (basset, beagle, bloodhound, etc.) you really need to puppy/hound proof your house. It only takes a brief moment of them being out of your sight  for them to really make a mess. And it can be dangerous for them as well if they get into household chemicals or insecticides.

The picture above shows a childproof lock that I installed on the bottom cabinets in the shack kitchen. This slows them down. I would not put food or trash behind them though because, given enough time and motivation, the little guys can get into them.

The cleaning fluids and household chemicals must be stored out of their reach. We store ours in a laundry room that is behind a closed door just off our back porch. All medication also must be out of the pup's reach. We store ours in a drawer out of reach.

When dogs get bored they love to shred paper. So any paper items need to be stored away. Trash cans need to be in areas not easily accessible to the little guys. This is especially true of the kitchen trash!

In the case of puppies, be particularly cautious of electrical cords that are within their reach. Secure them or remove them because it can be really dangerous if they chew these live cords.

This is sort of an ongoing process. Some folks advocate getting on your hands and knees and looking for any thing that may be a temptation to your dog and moving it. Things like remote control units, cell phones, shoes, etc. anything a puppy would like to chew on should be secured or removed.

Remember, even if you crate train, there are times when you are home and busy that the puppy may get to something faster than you can react. So, please puppy proof. This is another reason that I advocate keeping a young puppy where you can see him at all times when you are at home. You may have to buy a baby gate or two to accomplish this but it is well worth the investment.

If you have a little guy or girl with severe separation anxiety like Copper, and you can not confine or crate, a good option to keep their attention for a while is a Kong brand toy. You can take one of these rubber toys, fill it with peanut butter and treat pieces and freeze it. It will keep the little guy occupied and out of trouble for quite some time. I know some of you who have been around me awhile may get tired of reading and hearing this but: Exercise will help as well. A well exercised dog is much less likely to get into trouble like this than a dog who has not had enough exercise.  Copper and I did not walk as much today as we normally do. This may have been a contributing factor to his misbehavior.

If you have any questions about puppy/hound proofing your home, please contact me.

Till next time


William Moore

William Moore Canine Training

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