Having a puppy, and sometimes even an adult dog, is sort of like having a baby who can run, chew through furniture, and refuses to wear a diaper. This is why it's important to know how to dog-proof your apartment if you're getting a dog or puppy for the first time. As someone who's lived with dogs in apartments most of my life, I have learned that dog proofing your apartment serves two important purposes. First, it protects your stuff from your dog. Second, it protects your dog from your stuff. While you want to make sure Fido doesn't chew up your best pair of kicks, it might not occur to you that some things you leave lying around on the regular can actually be dangerous for your dog.
If you're bringing home a puppy, you can crate train your new best friend to ensure they stay safe when you're away. Some older dogs who weren't crate trained as pups get hella anxious if they're locked up in a crate. However, if you're adopting an adult dog, you can still designate a dog space using things like baby gates — they're not just for babies. In general, living in an apartment with dogs forces you to get a little creative. That being said, I've done it for years with large and small dogs alike, and I have always gotten my full deposit back and a glowing recommendation for my next place upon moving out. Ready to get started? Here's the quick and dirty on how to successfully dog proof your pad.
Keep Toxic Items Out Of Reach
One of the most important things to remember when brining home a new dog or puppy is that certain foods and household items can be toxic to your four-legged friend. Foods like chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, as well as cleaning products and even certain essential oils could result in a trip to the emergency vet if Fido gets ahold of them. Make sure to lock up all oils and cleaning products, and never leave human food where your dog has access.
What's more, make sure your trash can has a lid. If your dog eats something like a corn cob, you could be spending thousands of dollars on emergency stomach surgery. This happened to a friend of mine. Twice. "Add child-safe latches and locks to doors so your puppy can’t access the pantry or cabinets that contain cleaning products. Some dogs can learn to open doors with lever handles, so you may want to replace them with knobs if your landlord allows it," For Rent advised.
Aside from dangerous items, you'll also want to keep your dog away from valuable items.A good rule of thumb: if you don't want Fido to eat it, don't leave it out.
Encase Electrical Cords
Dog and puppies are curious creatures, especially when they're bored. If you're getting a dog for the first time, it's a good idea to make sure all of your electrical cords are encased. There's actually some pretty affordable cord boxes you can get on Amazon that keep all of your cords and cables safely tucked away so your dog can't use them as chew toys. Aside from being good for your dog, it also reduces visual clutter!
Keep The Toilet Lid Closed
While it might seem totally gross, your toilet is nothing more than a giant bowl of water to your dog. And if you've just cleaned the toilet, any left over chemicals could make your dog really sick. If you don't want Fido drinking out of the toilet, get into the habit of closing the lid or even closing the bathroom door altogether.
If you live in a dog-friendly apartment building, then you know that nothing will drive your neighbors mad faster than a dog that barks all day. Don't be this pet parent. It's likely that you don't know whether or not Fido barks when you're not home. But if you've been told that your dog is a barker, there are some things you can do to deter barking.
My dog can hear a delivery driver scanning a package blocks away, and it sends her into a barking frenzy. To reduce the chances that she hears every little noise, I always leave the radio and a loud fan on when she's home alone.
Block Access To The Litter Box
If you already have a cat and you're bringing home a dog for the first time, you might not know that your cat's litter box is a literal platter of treats for your dog. That's right, for some reason dogs love to eat cat turds from the litter box. Not only is this hella gross, if your dog gets sick and barfs it up, it's no fun to clean. Trust me. Before you bring Fido home, make sure the litter box is set up somewhere the dog can't access it. You can even use a baby gate to keep it in a room that's off limits to the dog.
Accept That Things Will Go Wrong
Even if you do everything right, things can still go sideways. No one is perfect, and there might be a time when you're running late and you forget to put your shoes in the closet. Having a dog means you're probably going to have some mishaps, some potty accidents, some ruined items, and perhaps even a few unexpected trips to the vet. These things happen, and it doesn't mean you're a bad pet parent.
It's a good idea to have the phone numbers to both your regular vet and a 24-hour emergency vet on speed dial, and taped to the fridge, for when things go awry.