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K9 Buddy Curriculum: Creating a Safe Environment for Your K9 Buddy

Planning is an important part of introducing a new animal companion into your home. While a K9 Buddy is generally a trustworthy partner, the dog is still young, impressionable, and does not yet understand your rules for your home. You will want to create a safe environment and pattern good house behavior in your dog. The following information is to help you create an environment that will ease your dog’s transition as well as give you tips on how to dog proof your home.

This material covers home, office and yard preparation, relief areas, other animals, storage of food and medications, basic equipment needs, and cleaning solutions.

Preparing Your Home
Assume that most dogs investigate new surroundings with their mouth. With a dog in the house, it is best to keep a home that is free of knickknacks or clutter within reach of the dog. Even if a dog is generally non-destructive, a wagging tail or a curious nose can knock over fragile keepsakes.

Some dogs are creative about finding things to eat, drink or destroy. If given the chance, some dogs will seek out items such as kitchen garbage, clothing, cat food, cat feces, or paper. Garbage cans and clothes hampers should have secure tops or they should be kept behind closed doors. Keep cat food and litter boxes up high or behind a baby gate.

A tie down is a short cable that has snaps on both ends and is used to keep a dog in a specific area when you cannot directly tend to it. Dogs are social creatures and want to be with you. Find a good place for your tie down. It can be attached to an eye bolt that is located in the base board of a wall OR a longer tie down can be wrapped around a solid piece of heavy furniture. It is best if it is located in an area that is near the action, yet out of drafts and not underfoot. You may want to use one in both a main room and your bedroom.

Set up for success by designating a “debris-free” zone for your K9 Buddy. If you have children, you can make a game of keeping non-dog items off the dog’s special space.

Your new K9 Buddy should be on leash or tie down for several weeks after you return home. These measures ensure good house behavior and help establish reliable relieving habits. Other useful tools are crates, exercise pens and baby gates.

Common Home Hazards

  • Anti-freeze
  • Balloons (inflated or not)
  • Batteries
  • Chocolate (the darker the chocolate, the more toxic)
  • Grapes, raisins
  • Tea tree oil
  • Citronella candles
  • Coins
  • Dental floss
  • Electric cords
  • Holiday Ornaments
  • Nails, tacks and safety pins
  • Plants (see list on following pages)
  • Pool chemicals
  • Jewelry
  • Tennis balls
  • Trash

Common Household Poisons

  • Cleaners, Disinfectants, Antiseptics (rubbing alcohol, ammonia, oven cleaner, bleach, boric acid, copper-brass cleaner, pine oil, drain cleaner, silver polish, furniture polish, gun cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, window cleaner)
  • The artificial sweetener Xylitol in sugar free food products (toothpaste, sugarless gum, baked goods, candy, etc.). Small amounts of this sweetener can cause seriously low blood sugar levels in dogs. 
  • Pesticides & Insecticides (ant stakes, rodent killers, strychnine)
  • Soaps (bubble bath, dish washer soap)
  • Personal care products (hair products, cuticle conditioner, nail polish & remover, cologne, perfume, shaving cream & lotion, corn & wart remover, eye make up)
  • Medicines (vitamins, prescription, narcotics, analgesics – ibuprofen, aspirin & acetaminophen, camphophenique)
  • Automotive Products (anti freeze, motor oil, gasoline)
  • Plant Products (food, fertilizer, snail bait, cocoa wood chips, garden sprays)
  • Craft Products (model cement, paint, paint thinner, epoxy glue, turpentine, kerosene)

Common Poisonous Houseplants

  • Castor bean
  • Christmas rose
  • Chrysanthemum (resin in stems)
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Elephant ear
  • Holly (berries)
  • Ivy (leaves)
  • Mistletoe
  • Philodendron

When You Are Away from Home
Regardless of your profession or routine, interests or obligations may take you to destinations outside the home for a portion of your day. You will need a safe place for your K9 Buddy in these situations as well. If you work in an area that is pet-friendly, we have found that tie downs under a desk or table create a “den-like” atmosphere that dogs generally find comfortable. You may want to have a water dish nearby. Find a good relieving area for your dog during the day. Keep a stash of baggies for pick up. If your dog will be at home during the workday, make a plan to ensure the dog’s needs are met while you are gone. In general, dogs should be relieved every 4 hours. You may choose to crate your dog while you are gone or block off a certain area of the house that is safe and appropriate for them to stay in.

Preparing Your Yard
Initially, your dog will be on leash in your yard whether it is enclosed or not, so you will want to take certain precautions for this area as well. Dogs do not always know what is good for them. Assume your new dog will want to “taste test” things in its environment.

Do not allow your dog to be unmonitored around a ground level pool. Dogs have been known to drown in pools because they get caught under the cover or do not know where the stairs are located.

Determine a good location to relieve your dog at home. Your dog has had experience relieving on a variety of surfaces, including concrete. If you think it likely there are times you will only be able to relieve your dog on concrete while traveling, you will want to do the same with your dog at home.

If relief on concrete is not necessary, and you plan to relieve your dog in your yard, for ease of pick up you may want to consider designating a particular area for your dog’s relief. Since dogs are creatures of habit, you can pattern a dog to a specific area, and it will generally return to that area for future relieving. To protect your landscaping, an enclosed, separate area for your dog may be warranted.

If you choose to fence a separate area for your dog, remember that grass wears down quickly, dirt turns to mud when wet, and a muddy dog makes extra work for you. Wood chips or pea gravel are generally fine as a surface, but some dogs may chew and ingest them if left alone in a run. Concrete may be the best surface since it is the easiest to clean and maintain. For all enclosures, a roof for shade or inclement weather is recommended.

More often than not, a dog should be accompanied when out in your yard. This ensures the dog remains quiet and out of mischief. Besides being a good place to play with your dog, it gives you opportunities to practice recalls as well as remain aware of your dog’s relieving habits and stool health. Occasionally, the dog may be given solo time in the backyard while you are home. While most dogs wish to be inside with you, some may enjoy lying in the sun. This freedom is dependent on your individual situation and dog. Should you choose to let your dog outside by themselves, lock all side gates, provide shelter or shade, and periodically check on them.

Other yard hazards include: toxic chemicals, foxtails, dangerous debris (wood w/ nails, broken glass, barbed wire, etc.) as well as poisonous plants.

Common Outdoor Poisonous Plants - Flowering Plants:

  • Azalea
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Buttercup
  • Daphne
  • Delphinium
  • Foxglove (Leaves/ Seeds)
  • Hyacinth (Bulb)
  • Hydrangea
  • Iris (Leaves / Roots)
  • Larkspur
  • Laurel
  • Lily Of The Valley
  • Narcissus (Bulb)
  • Peony (Roots)
  • Tulip (Bulb)

Common Outdoor Poisonous Plants - Ornamental Plants

  • Boxwood
  • Daffodil (Bulb)
  • English Ivy (Berries / Leaves)
  • Golden Chain (Seeds/Pods/Flower)
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Oleander
  • Wisteria (Pods/Seeds)

Common Outdoor Poisonous Plants - Vegetables

  • Eggplant (Foliage/Sprouts)
  • Onions (Raw)
  • Potato
  • Rhubarb (Leaves)
  • Tomato (Plant/Leaves)

Common Outdoor Poisonous Plants - Trees

  • Apricot (Pits)
  • Avocado (Leaves/Stems)
  • Cherry (Pits)
  • English Holly
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Oak (Leaves / Acorns)
  • Peach (Pits)
  • Walnuts (Nuts/Shells)

If you live in an apartment, you will want to take the same precautions in your dog’s relief area.

Other Animals
With careful planning and active management, a dog can become friends with established family pets. It’s important to take certain measures to ensure a safe and successful introduction. You will receive guidance GDB staff about how to properly introduce your new K9 Buddy to your current pet animals.

Medication and Food Storage
Both food and medications (human and canine) should be stored in a dry, cool area that is inaccessible to your dog. Keep all medications in their original packaging until administered.

Plastic storage bins with lids are generally advised for food storage, as they are easy to clean. Pop off or screw-on lids are both acceptable.

Dog Food, Toys, and Equipment
You will be given a variety of toys, including interactive and more durable types, and some dog food to last a few days in case you have not yet purchased or received a bag of food. Also, you will be supplied with other dog equipment (leash, collar, gentle leader, tie down and grooming tools).

Food Bowl and Water Bowl
For meals, a stainless steel dish is suitable. For water offerings, a weighted, non-slip stainless steel bowl works well to prevent spills. Some people use ceramic bowls for water. If you choose this type of bowl, be aware of that ceramic bowls that are not made exclusively for human use may contain lead-based paint.

Water on the floor is a potential slipping hazard. You can put a towel or placemat under the bowl. This should help contain the occasional slosh or drip from a wet nose and tongue.

Stain and Odor Solutions
Even with the best preparation and prevention, it is inevitable that you will occasionally need to clean up after your dog (vomit, bile, diarrhea, etc.). The following commercial products available in pet or baby stores are generally effective at removing both stains and odors:

  • Simple Solution™ - safe for carpets
  • Mother’s Little Miracle® - non-toxic, safe for use around children & pets
  • Nature’s Miracle® - safe for carpets

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