Creating your puppy’s perfect habitat

A friend once told me of a test you can take to determine if you’re ready to have a puppy. Stand in the middle of your house with a blindfold on. Then, take 10 baseballs and throw them as hard as you can in random directions. If you open your eyes and you’re devastated by the chaos around you, you’re not ready for a dog.

Personally I think that is a bit extreme. Gatsby has been a perfect gentleman (by dog standards, at least) since day one and the worst damage he has caused were a couple bite marks on one of my favourite books. Still, it’s good to be prepared. If you spend some time planning and arranging for a safe space for your puppy before you bring them home it will be easier for them adjust to their new surroundings.  Here’s what I did to help make Gatsby feel at home in my apartment.

In his habitat

  1. I put down a protective floor covering over an area of my hardwood floor. You can buy inexpensive industrial foam floor tiles for relatively little at any home improvement store. They protect my floor from being scratched, limit the noise of puppy play for my downstairs neighbour and are super easy to clean while housetraining. Now that Gatsby is accident-free, I’m planning on switching to a more attractive area rug.
  2. I purchased a “play pen” to section off an area of my apartment for Gatsby to stay in while I wasn’t home. This only lasted for about a month. Once I knew I could trust Gatsby in my apartment I took down the pen and allowed him more space to explore.
  3. I furnished his play pen area with his crate, training pads, his water bowl and lots of chew toys.

In the rest of my apartment

  1. I removed any tempting objects that were on low shelves or on the floor. I have open bookshelves, so I moved the books from the bottom shelves into my study and purchased decorative storage boxes for those shelves instead.
  2. I made sure no electronics cords were laying around in plain sight. I also took the extra step of spraying them with Bitter Apple Spray (TIP: Spray a paper towel first and then use that to wipe the cords, to avoid wasting product)
  3. I also used Bitter Apple Spray on the legs of my teak coffee and end tables.
  4. I made sure that all cleaning supplies were stored away and out of sight.
  5. I cleaned out a deep drawer in my kitchen to become my “Gatsby” drawer and stocked it with all his food and supplies.

In general I’d say the best course of action is to try and provide your dog with the best environment for them to succeed. While Gatsby was still being housetrained, I never left him alone in any carpeted areas of my house, and as such he’s never had an accident on the carpet. He loves to chew, so I make sure to have lots of wonderful chew toys around the house, and I try to limit the items that I leave out that he could reach. You don’t need to completely redesign your life to revolve around your dog, but making some small adjustments will keep you both happy and healthy!

This post was first published on November 30th, 2014.