Bringing a new puppy home can be an exciting time for your family. It can also be a little scary and uncertain. There are many hazards in the average home that can create dangerous situations for your puppy. Backyards can be especially tricky, so taking steps to secure your yard before the puppy arrives is one of the best ways to have a puppy proof backyard.
Start with a good puppy proof fence
A good puppy proof fence is your first line of defense when it comes to having a puppy proof backyard. Make sure the puppy proof fence is sturdy with no holes or means of escape. Make sure the dog can’t go under, through or above the fence. Is the fence so low that he can jump over it? Are there holes or gaps large enough for him to squeeze through? Can he tunnel under the fence and leave? Having secured fence will keep your puppy from being able to leave, but also keep other stray animals from getting in and hurting your dog.
If you have outdoor furniture in your backyard, make sure the puppy can’t use this furniture as a means of escape. You don’t want the puppy to be able to use the furniture as a boost to climb over the fence and out of the yard. Remove all grills, tables and chairs from the perimeter of the yard so the puppy can’t climb them and escape.
Regularly check the latches on all of your gates to make sure they are secure. Puppies can often open gates that are not properly secured, so make sure your latches are tight. Another hazard to your puppy is strangers in the yard. If you are going to have landscaping workers or household staff in and out of the house and the backyard, make sure they know how to properly latch the fences and gates to keep your puppy safe.
Not all fences are created equal. Chain link fences often work best because dogs can’t chew through them, and the holes are not large enough for most puppies to squeeze through. Fences with decorative spikes on them can be dangerous because dogs can jump on them and get impaled. Most experts recommend flat-edged fences for families with dogs or small puppies.
Secure Bodies of Water
Pools, ponds and standing water can be fatal to a puppy. While most dogs are good swimmers, it can be dangerous for the puppy to fall into the pool or a pond. If you have pools or ponds in your backyard, secure them with a fence that is too high for the puppy to climb. If it is not possible to build a fence around the pool, keep the dog contained to an area away from the pool. Many pool fences are not secure enough to keep the puppy out, so make sure there are no gaps that the puppy can squeeze through and fall into the water. A puppy proof fence can prevent injury or death around bodies of water.
It is also helpful to search your yard for areas in which the ground is uneven and can create large puddles after a rainstorm. These standing water areas can not only pose a fall hazard, they can also attract insects that can sting your dog. Install drain systems to ensure that standing water doesn’t pose a problem for your puppy.
Don’t create a habitat for predators in you puppy proof backyard
One of the most important factors when you are attempting to maintain a puppy proof backyard is to keep predators at bay. Snakes love hiding out in tall grass, piles of hay, wood shavings, compost heaps and in holes. Keep the grass cut and regularly move any debris that can create a habitat for snakes. Toads love water and pet food. Avoid feeding your dog outdoors as this can attract not only toads but rats that can attack and harm your puppy. Keep all garbage cans closed and in airtight containers to ward off raccoons and foxes. These animals lurk around at night foraging for food, so it can be wise to keep your puppy inside at night. Make sure your puppy proof backyard is a haven for the puppy but an inhospitable place for predators.
If you’re wondering how to puppy proof your backyard, one of the best ways is to keep other animals like raccoons, stray dogs and foxes out to prevent an attack on your dog.
Remove Toxic Plants
Puppies are naturally curious and will gnaw on anything in their vicinity. This includes toxic plants that can injure or kill them. There are quite a few plants that are toxic that you should remove from your puppy proof backyard. These include, but are not limited to:
- Poison Ivy
Search your backyard for these plants and get rid of them before the puppy arrives to play in his new backyard. There are more comprehensive lists available that will warn you of every substance that has been known to be harmful to pets. If the puppy does ingest one of these plants, contact your vet immediately.
Lock Away Chemicals and Hazardous Materials
Keep any fertilizer, weed killer, propane, lighter fluid, candle oil, bleach or cleaning supplies in a locked shed where the puppy cannot access them. If you are confused about how to puppy proof your backyard, crawl around on your hands and knees and get a real view of what your dog will see. If you spot any harmful chemicals, rest assured that your puppy will also spot them and try to test them out. Some chemicals can kill or injure your puppy, so be sure to lock them up and keep them out of reach.
Puppies like to chew. Exposed wires, outdoor furniture and garden hoses can look like a tasty snack to a puppy. So make sure you secure these and keep them out of puppy’s reach. Enjoy a puppy proof backyard by finding any brightly colored items at the dog’s level that might draw his attention.
Keep Your Puppy Safe From Cars
Your puppy proof backyard can extend to other parts of your home if your backyard is in the same vicinity as your garage. Keep your puppy safe by placing a barrier between the dog’s play area and the area where cars are in motion. Playful puppies can easily run in the path of a moving car, so keep him in an area with a puppy proof fence. If there is going to be a lot of activity in the garage area, like cars moving in and out frequently, it is best to keep the puppy inside the house.
Never let the puppy roam alone in the front yard. Puppies can be quick and dart out into traffic before you get a chance to stop them. If you’re in a space that’s not enclosed by a fence or a gate, keep him on a leash at all times.
Provide adequate shade and water
While your puppy will love wide, open spaces to run and play. They also need a place where they can be protected from the elements. Dehydration can set in quickly in a puppy, make sure he has a shady area with fresh, clean water. Trees often don’t provide enough protection from the sun. Having a structure so that he can go inside to protect him from the elements, will help.
Make sure this shelter is away from wires, generators, appliances or grills to ensure that the dog’s sleeping space is safe.
Beware of Fire
When thinking of how to puppy proof your backyard, most people forget about how dangerous fire can be. Barbecue grills are a staple of most backyards, and many people own fire pits that are great for cool evenings but can be fatal for dogs. When you are figuring out how to puppy proof your backyard, be sure to secure all sources of fire. This means extinguishing your grill immediately and keeping it out of reach of the dog. Keep fire pits covered and never leave them burning unattended.
Visitors to your puppy proof backyard
This hazard is not one that often comes to mind when we think about a puppy proof backyard. However visitors can pose a real danger to your puppy. Neighborhood children who know you have a puppy may come into your yard to play with him without your knowledge. Visitors to your yard may not know you have a puppy and inadvertently let him out of the yard. Well meaning family members and friends may feed your puppy harmful foods or play with him too roughly. When it comes to inviting visitors into your yard, make sure they understand how to handle your puppy properly.
Check your yard often for children’s toys that can pose a choking hazard to your puppy. If the kids are playing outside, they may leave their small toys, balls or balloons outside with the dog. Puppies love to chew, and they don’t know the difference between harmful children’s toys and their own safe toys. Plastic blocks, hair accessories, baubles and puzzle pieces are brightly colored and will attract the attention of a curious puppy. These toys can create a hazardous situation, make sure that they are thoroughly cleaned up after play time outdoors.
Create a dog run in your backyard
For whatever reason you can can’t completely puppy proof your backyard. Then just create a separate area just for him. Using a chain link fence, section off a portion of your backyard giving him adequate space to run and play. This area should be off limits to everyone but the puppy to prevent hazardous materials from getting in.
Understanding hazards and taking steps to prevent them is the first step in puppy proofing your backyard. For some that means simply installing a puppy proof fence to keep the puppy in and predators out. Or it may mean building an enclosure to keep him from falling into the pool. For some families, puppy proofing means buying a shed to lock away hazardous chemicals and tools.
Properly puppy proofing your backyard is a matter of understanding the hazards lurking in your yard. Then fixing them so that your puppy has a safe and comfortable place to play.