By Cindy Aldridge

Dogs are wonderful pets; they’re loyal, fun, comforting, and entertaining, and they can even have stress-reducing properties for their owners. In fact, studies have shown that simply petting a dog can lower your blood pressure, making them the perfect companions for people of all ages and walks of life. Dogs can also be big responsibilities, however, and they can leave messes behind in your home even when they’re well behaved.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize the damage and destruction, especially when your pet is home alone. Training plays a big role, but you can also pet-proof your home to ensure that your pup doesn’t get into trouble. From keeping him out of certain rooms to making safety considerations such as placing food and candy out of reach, there are many ways you can keep your dog safe and happy and maintain a clean and damage-free home.

Keep reading for tips on how to prevent messes and disasters when you’re a pet owner.

Reduce and Eliminate Safety Hazards

It’s important to eliminate safety hazards around the house, especially if you work long hours or if your pup is home alone most of the day. If you leave chocolate (which is toxic to dogs) laying around, chances are your pup will get into it — even if it’s sealed up. Many dogs are curious creatures, and they have excellent senses of smell. Place all food items on shelves in the pantry or cabinets that are too high for your dog to reach, and keep the doors closed. It’s also important to move or get rid of plants that may be poisonous to your dog, especially if he likes to chew.

Block Off Rooms

Your dog may be curious about rooms in your house that he’s not ordinarily allowed in, so it’s a good idea to keep them closed off if there are things inside that could be safety issues or that he could tear up. If you have children who play with small toys, these are choking hazards for dogs, so those bedrooms should be closed off. You can also use baby or pet gates to prevent your dog from going into certain rooms or areas, including up and down stairs.

Prevent Chewing

Many dogs like to chew, especially younger ones; the urge may be due to teething, or they might just consider it to be play. This can be destructive, however, especially when it comes to your carpet or window coverings. Prevent chewing by giving your dog regular exercise every day to tire him out and to prevent behavioral issues. You can also raise the curtains or blinds while you’re gone so your pup can see outside; this is often the cause for destructive behavior. Many owners also encourage the “right” kind of chewing, meaning they praise their dog for using their chew toys and keep things interesting by using a toy that can hold a treat inside.

Keep Things Off the Floor

Even the most well-behaved dogs can have trouble controlling their impulses, especially when there are enticing items around the house. From dirty laundry that contains the scents of you and your family to toys, blankets, and pillows, there are many things that can end up on the floor that your dog might find fun to chew or mark his territory on. Keeping the floor and furniture clean and neat will help your dog mind his manners, especially when you’re not home.

Dog-proofing your home doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive; there are many simple things you can do to help your pup stay safe and happy. Remember to stay patient, especially if he’s a rescue, as he may not understand what he’s done wrong. With some planning and patience, you can keep your dog’s needs a priority while maintaining your home.