More time at home and the transition to remote work has been good news for the family pets—especially dogs. While some cats can be a bit “meh” about having their humans at home more often, dogs are loving it. Families who used to be away long hours at work and school are now finding that they have more time to add furry family members to the household.
Pet adoptions from animal shelters have skyrocketed during the pandemic, especially dogs. Dogs have many roles in a household such as a companion, exercise buddy, emotional support, and four-legged home security system. There are important things to consider when preparing your home for your new wagging bundle of joy.
Even when you’re at home to supervise them, dogs are like children and can quietly get into all sorts of trouble really fast. You leave the room and within minutes your dog is eating out of the garbage can or getting into food on a low shelf or countertop. These behaviors aren’t only a nuisance but can be dangerous. Certain foods (like chocolate) are poisonous to dogs, as well as the possibility of intestinal distress from ingesting packaging. Dogs are also known to chew on things that aren’t toys. Cords are especially tempting. Electrical cords should be stored away or kept out of reach, as well as cords for curtains and blinds. Tug of war with the blinds can lead to injury due to entanglement. Before bringing your new dog home, you must thoroughly remove access to all such indoor hazards.
Plants are another serious danger for dogs. You may have to reevaluate your houseplants and landscaping choices. It’s best to keep all houseplants out of reach anyway, just for the sake of the plant, but it’s your yard and flower garden that will take the most scrutiny. There are hundreds of plant varieties that are known toxins when ingested, so chances are that you have some dangers lurking in the soil. For example, you may look forward to your spring bloom of daffodils and tulips, but the bulbs are poisonous to dogs. These bulbs will need to be removed or relocated. Not all dogs dig or would consider a bulb a tasty treat, but you don’t want to find out the hard way. Ask your vet for a complete list of poisonous plants. If you’re not sure which toxic plants you may have in your yard there are some useful apps you can use to identify them just by taking a picture with your phone.
Many humans enjoy the warm, adoring company of their dog sharing the bed or couch. Not all households allow pets on the furniture and that is okay. Dogs love being with their people but with training, they can learn to be just as comfortable and content relaxing in their own designated area nearby on a pet bed. This leaves more room for the humans on the couch and also a better night’s sleep for everyone to be in their own bed. For night time and when you’re away, dogs can be trained to feel safe and comfortable in a crate. This keeps them out of trouble during unsupervised hours. However, you shouldn’t crate a dog for more than what is suggested for their age. Consult your vet for recommendations about crating your dog.
No one likes an upset stomach and you don’t want your dog to have a tummy ache. Also, a tummy ache could lead to unpleasant messes so stick with the food recommended by your vet and don’t give table scraps to your dog. Even though the pleading eyes can be irresistible while you’re eating, don’t give table scraps to your dog because of indigestion potential as well as setting up a precedent for begging and you’ll never eat in peace again. It’s also a good idea to establish a feeding schedule. If you’re working from home, your pets may think having the humans at home all day means that they can eat all day. Dogs like routines, so setting up a feeding schedule will ease meal anxiety in your dog and everyone will be happier.
Dogs use their mouths to explore new things. Don’t use household items as toys since they may contain toxic materials and also may lead to misunderstandings with your dog about what is allowed for chewing and what isn’t, such as your furniture and sofa cushions. Purchase toys from pet suppliers that are recommended for your dog’s age and breed. It may take some time to find what your dog prefers. Chew toys of rope or plastic, a favorite tennis ball, or stuffed toys are good choices to try until you find your dog’s preference. All toys should be made of pet-approved materials without small parts or materials that can hurt them. It is also recommended that dogs be supervised with certain toys. Read the packaging for recommendations.
Some dogs love the dog park. Clark County has many great off-leash dog parks. Find their locations and rules at DOGPAW Off-Leash Parks (www.dogpawoffleashparks.org). Dog parks aren’t always a good choice for every dog due to social anxiety and behavior concerns. It depends on the type of dog. You may find that your new furry friend is happier with long walks along the river. Even though they may want to run free, it’s best to keep them on the leash for their own safety. If you have adopted a dog who prefers to stay home, consider a dog run or designated area for play. Play-yard fencing for babies and toddlers can be an option for some small or toy breed dogs. Just don’t put the human babies and fur babies in any enclosure together at the same time.