Last summer, about the same time as Bravo’s cancer diagnosis, a stray puppy showed up. Shadow answered prayers we didn’t know we made. Sometimes God answers prayers in advance. So we once again needed to puppy proof the house.
When we lost our 11-year-old German shepherd Magical-Dawg and 22-year-old Seren-Kitty within three months of each other, the sadness ambushed our emotions for weeks and months. It also haunted Karma-Kat, and he slept with Magic’s collar for a week between bouts of crying, increased clawing and other attention-seeking stressful behavior.
We wanted another pet, and my husband specifically wanted a puppy. After more than a decade with only adult pets, we took pains to prepare for the arrival and integration of our Bullmastiff baby dog. We puppy proofed the house. But Shadow took us by surprise. We repeated most of the same puppy proofing steps from when Bravo-Dawg arrived. That kept everyone’s stress levels low, and the whole family happy and safe. Here’s what we did for Bravo, Karma, and most recently, Shadow-Pup.
3 TOP PUPPY PROOFING STRESS BUSTERS
PUPPY PROOF DOG TERRITORY, CAT TERRITORY
Bravo arrived weighing 39 pounds at 12 weeks of age. He’d spent all his life outside with seven adult dogs (including his mother), seven siblings, and two cats. They’d already taught him pretty good dog and cat manners, thank goodness, but we still needed to control Bravo’s territory.
By the time Shadow showed up, Bravo weighed 123 pounds and adored Karma-Kat (the feeling was mutual). Thankfully, but the cat and Bravo enjoyed other dogs, and willingly put up with puppy antics. We have no history of Shadow’s experience, but he had excellent manners toward Bravo, and showed proper puppy deference. He wasn’t as polite to Karma, though.
Pet gates in the kitchen created a “puppy central” home base for Shadow. The gates also have smaller “cat doors” in the barrier’s bottom so that Karma continued to have access to the area. For safety, we never leave them unsupervised.
Slate floor in the kitchen proved easier to clean after the inevitable puppy accidents.
Private dining & sleeping in the large crate gives Shadow privacy to eat away from thieving cat paws and Bravo distractions. It also gave the other pets a respite from puppy antics.
The cat continues to have free access to the rest of the house, and especially the master bath where he’s fed on the counter out of reach of thieving dogs. We also locate Karma’s litter box in the bathroom for kitty privacy.
In the evenings, when all eyes can watch the pets, we spend time together in the living room. Using a strap barrier product (The Door Buddy) gives Karma-Kat access through the bedroom door but prevents Shadow from entering.
Finally, the three cat trees provided for Karma give him elevated territory out of puppy nose-poke range. He can easily escape to safety, if need be, and lounge without stress in the same room as a rowdy dog baby.
TOOTHY TARGETS: PUPPY PROOF PUPPY CHEWING
Puppies chew. It’s in the puppy bill of rights. When puppy-proofing, anything at puppy tooth level becomes a potential target. I recommend investing in knee pads and crawling around your house to get a puppy-eye-view of danger zones. Since living with dogs and cats for so long (cats chew, too!), most of our dangerous items were already out of harm’s way.
We rolled up doormats and stored them away, as well as large accent pillows. Otherwise, Shadow turned them into chew toys. We stowed any storage boxes behind closed doors. After we learned Bravo could reach countertops and shred mail, we found a new place to store bills. Even Shadow-Pup learned to reach dish towels left too close to the edge of countertops. Read how to deal with puppies jumping up in this post.
We relegated cat toys to Karma’s domain to avoid dogs eating catnip mice or sparkle balls. My husband’s socks proved irresistible, and despite our best efforts, Bravo ate (and urped up) whole socks more than once. Shadow doesn’t eat them but will gnaw holes. Having a puppy turns one into a better housekeeper–or else!
PUPPY PROOF DOG AND CAT TOYS
We provide Shadow with lots of toys help to keep him excited and happily focused on legal targets. He’s now 16 months old and 26 pounds and his toy preference has changed along the way. After Bravo passed away (nine months after his diagnosis), Shadow-Pup inherited many of his favorites.
Small soft plushies he snuggled a month ago now end up gutted with stuffing all over the floor. These days, he prefers more rigid chewies like pig snouts and stuffed hooves. We provide also him with lots of puzzle toys that offer treats when he “wins” the game. His favorite is the Kong Wobbler, which I use to feed him one of his meals. This toy has tooth marks from Magic, Bravo, and now Shadow, making it extra special.
A new puppy means turns people into vigilant caretakers. Shadow finds new toys everywhere, so bathroom doors now stay latched to prevent toilet paper theft, toilet lids stay lowered to prevent bob-the-toy games, and books or other paper get stored on high or behind solid doors. Predicting problems helps prevent – and reduce – potential stress, so that we can concentrate on the tail-wagging smiles Shadow brings.
For more information on pet proofing for holidays, check out this blog post.
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!