Whether you are a new dog guardian, a pet caregiver, trainer or dog lover; there are some very important, often neglected things to consider to keep dogs safe when left alone.
Recently, I went for a day trip with a friend of mine in his car. I brought my dog TIMBER with us for the day and while my car is completely dog proofed and my friend knows how neurotic I am about safety issues with my pets, I assumed his car was safe. Wrong! We stepped out of the car to share our apples with my horses when my heart skipped a beat with a thought that there could be something in the car that may not be safe. My instincts are so keen when it comes to safety, that I freely admit to being neurotic about safety with my animals.
Within minutes of leaving the car, I asked if there was anything in the car, garbage, etc. that TIMBER could get into. TIMBER is a scavenger of the worst kind. I know this about her, so while I was asking the question, I was already running back to the car which was 100 ft away. My intuition was right. He had a garbage bag attached to his head rest behind the passenger seat, which I didn’t notice and would never have in my car with dogs. Sure enough TIMBER had taken some trash out as evidenced by little pieces of tin foil from Hershey’s Kisses and another bag that had food crumbs in it.
After all my years of being with dogs, I made a wrong assumption that could have cost my dogs’ life. So, thought I would make a checklist for you and anyone who takes care of your dogs.
Checklist for every time you leave home:
- Keep a checklist in plain view, for all caregivers in the home or pet sitters.
- Leave appropriately safe toys, removing interactive toys such as balls before you leave.
- Know your dog. If she’s a scavenger or counter surfer; make sure you have a covered trash can or put it out of reach of your dogs. Check it every time you leave the house.
- Make sure there is a full, clean bowl of water. Something may happen that keeps you out longer than planned.
- Close all doors and gates.
- Make sure all animals are home and in their appropriate places, cats, hamsters, bunnies, puppies, etc. before you leave.
- Never leave food or food wrappers in any trash receptacle except for the kitchen trash. Dogs can suffocate on an empty potato chip or sandwich bag.
- Cover trash can in the bathroom or pick it up. Razors, medications, etc. can kill a dog.
- Make sure your window screens are solidly in place, not able to be pushed out by an animal or close the window until it’s repaired.
- Pick up socks, shoes, etc.
- Turn off electric free standing heaters before leaving or make sure they are out of the way of animals walking by accidentally knocking it over.
- Push kitchen chairs in under the table if you have a scavenger type dog who could get on the chair using it to climb to the counter or out a window.
- Leave emergency phone numbers on this list. Veterinarian, neighbor, family member.
- Put an emergency sticker in your window that there are animals in the home, in case of fire, earthquake, etc. so authorities know they are inside and can get them out, safely.
If you have a puppy or a new dog who you don’t know, then don’t leave the dog with run of the house. It’s best to leave the pup in an exercise pen, a crate, a closed room (laundry, bathroom) or with a puppy sitter.
About the author: Jill Breitner, is a professional dog trainer and dog body language expert loving and living her life on the west coast of the USA. She is the author of Dog Decoder, a smartphone app about dog body language recommended and used by veterinarians, shelters, trainers, educators and guardians worldwide. Jill has been teaching gentle handling/basic husbandry skills to clients and their dogs for 40 years, to be your pets advocate for a happier and stress free life. Join Jill on her Dog Decoder Facebook page