You're excited because it's almost time to bring home your new puppy, but can you be sure your home is puppy proof?
There are many hidden dangers lurking inside our homes and gardens that could be a disaster waiting to happen. Puppy proofing your home in advance will help you avoid potential dangers, protecting your puppy and keeping him safe from harm.
Let's face it, we all know puppies love to chew, especially when teething.
Chewing is how they explore their little world. Puppies will chew (read destroy!) TV remotes, spectacles, sunglasses, and CDs; in fact, anything they can get their sharp little pointy teeth into!
I know a little puppy that was partial to chewing false teeth. This puppy managed to chew its way through three sets!
Besides the obvious loss and inconvenience, your puppy could easily choke on any of these items, especially if left unsupervised.
You must be confident that your house and garden are entirely puppy proof before you bring your Cocker Spaniel puppy home.
To help you highlight potential dangers to your puppy, view your home through your new puppy's eyes. Imagine you're protecting a two-year-old toddler; get down on your knees if it helps, and look for hidden or apparent dangers that could harm him.
If you have high-value or sentimental items in your home, you should make a special effort to move them out of your puppy's reach. A curious little puppy will almost certainly chew anything you leave lying around!
Make a list of the obvious hazards and then add those that aren't so obvious. You can then work your way through the list, making adjustments as you go.
Other obvious hazards in your home are electrical sockets, plugs and wiring.
Live electrical wires are a safety hazard for a new puppy, so puppy-proofing them is essential to safeguard your puppy.
Hide wires under carpets, tie them up behind furniture or curtains, or use cable protectors to stop your pup from biting through wires. Better still, switch off electrical appliances at the wall if they're not in use. It's just not worth the risk.
If you have an open fire, you must protect your curious little puppy from getting burnt. Securing a fire guard to the wall is the best way to protect your puppy from harm.
Also, make sure that kitchen cupboards at ground level are kept closed and can't be easily opened by curious puppies, especially those that contain household disinfectants, bleaches and other cleaning products.
Household products are often toxic and there are many lurking in our homes.
Puppy teeth are very sharp and can easily puncture plastic packaging, an accident waiting to happen!
Burning scented candles can make your home smell wonderful but can be dangerous when you have a young puppy around. They may also be toxic!
If you must burn candles, make sure they're on a high shelf, safely out of his reach.
The same applies to those plug-in air fresheners that we love to use to perfume our homes.
When puppy proofing your home, don't for get to check your kitchen for other potential problem areas.
Don't leave any food or sweets where your puppy can reach them, especially chocolate; small amounts of dark chocolate could seriously harm your puppy.
You may need to hide away the kitchen rubbish bin!
For example, a bored or curious puppy will go all out to try to get into kitchen waste bins and either eat the contents (yuk!) or spread it all over your newly washed kitchen floor, or both!
When Max was a puppy, this was one of his favourite pastimes! I only needed to leave him for a minute; on my return, I'd find two little legs and a stumpy tail protruding from the bin!
Don't forget to keep the toilet lid closed.
Your little Cocker puppy may be too small to reach just now, but he'll soon grow. As well as keeping your puppy from falling into the toilet, it may also discourage him from using it as his drinking bowl!
Tidy away newspapers, magazines and books; anything made of paper will become a magnet for your puppy, who will become a little shredding machine given half the chance!
If you also have small pets, such as guinea pigs and mice, and your puppy has a high prey drive, you may need to protect them because your puppy may see them as quarry and worry them, or worse!
Never leave your puppy alone with small pets unless you're comfortable and confident that he won't harm them.
If you have a fish tank, make sure your puppy can't reach it.
Your favourite shoes, slippers and socks are also fair game, in fact, any piece of clothing that holds your scent!
If you don't want them spoiled, keep them safe - you've been warned!
If you're unlucky, your puppy may enjoy chewing on your furniture; table legs are often a favourite!
Carpets and rugs are fair game too.
You can protect your furniture by spraying it with a product called Bitter Apple. Most pets don't like the bitter taste, which acts as a deterrent against chewing.
Many houseplants are poisonous for your puppy should he decide to nibble on their leaves. Know which plants are dangerous and which are safe. Protect your puppy.
Remember to check for poisonous plants in your garden, too, as your puppy will spend many happy hours exploring his garden!
You must do the same puppy proofing risk assessment for your garden to keep your puppy safe and secure.
Make sure your puppy can't get out through the gaps in the fence or under the garden gate.
Many types of electric pet fences are available to keep your dog inside your garden. They can be very effective. Don't worry; they're very low-voltage and safe for a puppy.
If you think that sounds cruel, consider using chicken wire instead.
Fixing chicken wire to the lower half of your fence, buried up to 50mm in the soil where possible, will stop your Hudini puppy from escaping underneath.
It will be easy to remove later when he grows too big to get through the small gaps.
If you have a garden pond, consider placing a strong mesh cover over it to make it safe, at least until you are confident your puppy can swim!
If you have them, remember to secure your garden shed and greenhouse, as they often contain many chemicals and pesticides that could prove fatal to a curious puppy.
Keep them out of reach.
If you have one, your garage will also need to be puppy proofed. Garages hold potentially harmful chemicals; one to be particularly aware of is antifreeze, as it's highly toxic, and unfortunately, dogs love the taste of it.