One of the best places to keep an unsupervised puppy is in the bathroom. It’s also one of the worst places — unless you do a good job of puppy-proofing.
My friend Lauren kept her Border Collie puppy, Raven, in her bathroom when she couldn’t keep an eye on him. Border Collie puppies can be pretty active, so finding a safe place to contain Raven was very important. The bathroom was a good choice because the tile floor was easy to clean up in the event of an accident. It was also just the right size for a puppy: big enough to let him play and stretch his legs, but small enough to make it easy to puppy-proof.
If you want to make a bathroom your puppy’s “safe room,” you’ll need to first look at all the potential hazards that lurk there and how you can fix them. Here are the issues you’ll need to address.
Adult dogs have the reputation of drinking from the toilet. Puppies have been known to drown in them. Be sure to keep the toilet lid closed when your puppy is in the bathroom. If you’re concerned your puppy may open the lid, consider a child safety latch to keep it securely closed.
Bathrooms are a popular place to store medications and personal grooming items, both of which can be hazardous to a puppy. Make sure all medications are kept in cabinets high off the ground, where your puppy can’t get them. If you have an agile pup who might jump or climb up onto counters, giving him access to your medicine cabinet, relocate your medications to another room of the house. Likewise things like shampoo, soap, shaving cream and anything else your puppy might get into. You may want to consider putting a baby latch on your cabinets to ensure your puppy can’t get the doors open and get into the items kept inside.
If you’re female, you probably have bobby pins, hair clips and ponytail holders in your bathroom. While they may be kept securely in a drawer, it’s amazing how these small items can find themselves on the floor. Be sure to keep your floor completely free of these kinds of items.
Cabinet corners and door hinges are usually made of wood, which can be very appealing to a teething puppy. If your pup has a penchant for gnawing on wood, you can take steps to deter him. Consider applying bitter apple spray (available at pet supply stores) on wooden corners in the bathroom. To be even safer, tape plastic wrap to the corners. It’s likely your puppy will lose interest in trying to chew these areas once they are covered up.
Most bathrooms contain a rug or two, which also might prove very appealing to your teething puppy. Rather than take a chance of having your puppy chew up your rug (and possibly swallow some of it, which can cause a blockage), temporarily remove rugs from the bathroom until your pup is grown up enough not to chew them. Rugs can also be a temptation for a puppy that isn’t completely housebroken yet. Most dogs prefer to urinate on an absorbent surface than on hard tile. If there’s a rug in proximity, your pup is more likely to have an accident.
The bathroom trashcan will be a favorite of your puppy, who will have fun knocking it over and throwing the contents all over the bathroom. He will probably enjoy tearing up some of the contents, too. If he gets into it, he may swallow something harmful, like plastic or metal. It’s safest to temporarily remove the trashcan from the bathroom while your pup is using that room for his den.
Puppies love to chew, and any cords within reach may end up in your puppy’s mouth. Your pup can be electrocuted if he bites into an electrical cord that’s plugged in.
Unplug hairdryers, curling irons and other appliances when they aren’t in use. For items that need to be plugged in at all times, place the cord up high where the puppy can’t reach it.
Nothing is more fun to a bored puppy than unraveling an entire roll of toilet paper. Once your pup discovers the joys of the spinning roll, he won’t stop until all the paper is on the floor. Head him off at the pass by removing the toilet paper from its roll and keeping it up high where he can’t reach it.
If you keep your clothes hamper in the bathroom, it’s a good idea to rehome it for now. Puppies have been known to knock down the hamper and scatter the clothes everywhere. What’s worse is they sometimes take to ripping clothes up, and worse, eating them. Swallowing fabric can result in a serious blockage in your puppy’s intestines that will result in expensive surgery.
While puppy-proofing your bathroom takes some effort, it’s probably the best room in the house to keep your pup when you’re not home. Other options are a crate or exercise pen, which you can keep in any room of the house. But even if your pup has a crate or pen, maybe you’d just like to keep him with you when you’re taking a bath or doing your nails. If that’s the case, a puppy-proofed bathroom is a great place to be.