"PUPPY PROOFING"

Before you bring your new puppy home, it is very important for the safety of your new puppy, that you prepare for his home coming by "Puppy Proofing" your house and yard.  It is a good idea to secure your puppy in a room that provides a safe environment by purchasing child gates or putting your puppy in an exercise pen.  Select the room where you can watch him all of the time.  Ideally, you should get on your puppy's level, on your hand and knees.  Look around each room to see what your puppy could get into.  Look for such items as electrical cords, poisonous plants, dangerous items that your puppy could chew or swallow.  If you have valuable furniture or special items in your home that could be damaged, move the item up or put it away until your puppy is older.  Puppies love to chew on things such as throw rugs, toys, socks and shoes.  Puppies love to shred paper products and grab a roll of toilet paper running through your house.  If you cannot afford to have something destroyed, whether it is an expensive item or an important paper document, get it out of the pups way.  A puppy chewing on an electrical cord will kill your puppy.  Anything swallowed that can not pass through the pup's system will require surgery to remove it.  Check all toys and make sure the puppy is not chewing off pieces and the seams are good.  Rawhide can be dangerous if the pup bites off a small piece and it swells up in the stomach without being able to pass through the pup's system.  Follow this procedure until your puppy has finished his teething stage and is housetrained.  With a Maltese, that could mean several months.

If there are items that you do not want to move out of your puppy's reach, there are several products on the market to discourage chewing.  A firm "No" when the pup starts to chew is also a good idea and the start of obedience training.  Hazards that may be missed are garbage and trash receptacles.  There are several food items that will kill your puppy such as chocolate, there are many internet sites that list food items that are dangerous to your puppy.  Make sure that your puppy cannot get into the garbage and dangerous foods are not left within the pup's reach.  Keeping the puppy in a confined area is the best preventative. 

One of the greatest hazards to your pup is the ability to escape.  Maltese are very fast so be aware every time a door is opened that your puppy cannot escape.  Maltese are very attached and want to follow their owner and will slip out of the door unnoticed.   A fenced yard is a requirement.  Carefully walk your entire fence line.  Look for loose or broken boards that may provide an escape route for your puppy.  Make sure there are no gaps under the fence providing escape from your yard.  Even a small space of 2-4 inches can allow a young puppy to get free.  Check to see that your gate latches securely every time.  If you are still unsure about your fences and gates being able to confine your puppy, set up a large safe play area by putting two exercise pens together.  Even in ex-pens and fences, supervision is important because Maltese are great climbers.  Start using obedience commands early, this could save your pup's life.  Add the words "sit" and "stay" to your early home training and require the pup to be in position before opening the door, once he has learned these commands.  Always offer a treat when he does the correct behavior and never give a treat if the command is not followed.  Later add "come" so if your puppy does escape your Maltese will come on command.  Always train saying "come" with a high pitched happy voice followed with a treat.  It must be fun and rewarding to come.

You need to take extra care if you have a swimming pool that the puppy can fall into.  Swimming pools can be very attractive to a curious pup.  Yes, this is the same pup that hates to have a bath!  The pup might not realize that he cannot "walk on water" or he may accidentally fall in while playing to closely around the pool.  Most Maltese can swim but cannot get out of the pool so they tire and then drown.  Maltese can generally squeeze through rod iron pool fences so don't get a false sence of security. 

Many plants in your yard may be poisonous to your puppy.  If you are unsure if the plant that your puppy has eaten is poisonous, call your vet.  Also watch for bees, wasps and poisonous spiders.  If your puppy has been stung or bitten take your Maltese immediately to your vet.  If you are not close to your vet always have Benadryl on hand to give to your puppy.  Do not bring your puppy into an environment with fleas since some Maltese are very allergic to fleabites.  There are products on the market to manage fleas, ticks, mites and mosquitos, they all can impair the health of your puppy.  Maltese are not considered an outside dog.  Do not leave your puppy outside when it is to hot or to cold.  Always have water available for your puppy.  Maltese can get sunburned just as you do, protect your puppy with shade.  If it is raining and your puppy gets wet, towel dry your puppy so he does not get chilled.

There is an unpleasant topic that may arise that is a hazard to the well being to the puppy's health and that is eating poop.  Some Maltese are quilty of this nasty habit.  The only sure way to prevent this from happening is to follow behind your puppy and pick it up right away.  No one really knows why this happens and it does not seem to harm your puppy, but could make your puppy vomit.  Also, if your puppy eats grass or leaves this can cause your puppy to vomit. 

One other hazard is the danger of a fire while you are away from home.  Most fire companies and other sources have stickers called pet locators, that can be attached to the window or door where the pet can be found while you are away. 

Never leave your puppy in your backyard when you are not at home to supervise.  Maltese are an expensive breed and have a great likelihood of getting stolen if they are not supervised.  Never leave your puppy in your car alone.  A car can heat up in a matter of minutes or your puppy can become distraught only for you to return to your car and find your puppy dead or missing.

Above all else, enjoy your new puppy in the safe environment you have created for him.  Remember to supervise your puppy closely when you first bring him home to make sure you have not missed something dangerous to his safety.  Please take care to ensure your puppy's safety whether you are home or away.