Puppy-Proofing Your Yard

Help keep your puppy safe with these puppy-proofing tips for the yard.

Written by
From removing poisonous plants to securing the fence, make sure you puppy-proof the entire yard before letting your little trouble-maker run free. CreativeNature_nl/iStock/Thinkstock
Audrey Pavia

Puppies love to spend time outside, smelling the fresh air and basking in the sunshine. But before you let your pup roam the great outdoors, make sure you’ve puppy proofed your entire yard, for your pup’s safety and the sake of your property.

Backyards pose all kinds of hazards for puppies. Likewise, puppies can do plenty of damage to backyards. Begin puppy proofing by going into your backyard and getting down on puppy level to see where your pup might get into trouble. Here’s what you should look for:

Dangerous Objects

Look for things your puppy can chew on and swallow, such as gardening gloves and kids’ toys. Bags of fertilizer, unsecured trash cans and even cocoa mulch can also pose hazards to chewing puppies.

When it comes to protecting your yard, know that puppies have a penchant for chewing on just about everything. Rakes, shovels, hoes — just about anything is fair game for puppies. Keep these and other gardening tools securely stashed so your puppy can’t get to them.


Inspect your front and back yard fencing for broken areas or gaps where your puppy can slip through. Be sure to look at the base of your fencing for spots where your puppy can get through. This is particularly important if you have wild rabbits that frequent your yard. Rabbits are known for digging depressions under fencing so they can come and go. If a rabbit can fit under the fencing, chances are your small puppy can, too.

When checking out your fencing, if you see any area small enough for your pup to fit through, block it off. Use chicken wire or boards of wood to seal off the spots in question. Although it won’t look pretty, remember it’s only temporary. Puppies grow fast!

Once your puppy is older, be sure your fence is high enough so he can’t jump out. Six feet is optimum for taller, athletic dogs. If your puppy is a digger, you may also want to consider putting rocks or cinder block bricks along the base of fencing to prevent him from digging out.

Crawl Spaces

If your home has a crawl space underneath, be sure it’s securely blocked off so your puppy can’t get inside. If he gets underneath the house, you may have a hard time getting him out.


If your puppy is a voracious chewer, he may be drawn to any cords or wires that might be accessible in your yard. Sprinkler wires are particularly vulnerable. Consider covering your sprinkler wires with mesh or putting a blockage of bricks or rocks around them to keep your puppy out of trouble.


Puppies loves to chew on wood. Whether it’s your lawn furniture, the posts that hold up your patio roof or the logs you store for the fireplace, your puppy is bound to put his teeth on it. Not only is this unhealthy for your puppy (splinters can hurt his mouth and cause problems in his digestive tract), it can make your yard look pretty bad in a short period of time.

A good deterrent for wood chewers is bitter apple spray, available in pet supply stores. A daily spritz of this yucky-tasting product on the wooden surface will change your pup’s mind about gnawing on it.


Puppies explore their world with their mouths, and are inclined to bite or chew any vegetation they are curious about. Consider the plants you have in your yard, and get rid of or block off those that might be poisonous to dogs. You can find a list of common toxic garden plants on the ASPCA’s website.

Older puppies often love to dig. Cover areas of soft dirt or sand in your garden with large rocks to help discourage your puppy from digging in these places.

Gardening Products

Avoid using chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers in your yard if your puppy will be spending time there. His small body will be more susceptible to harm from the toxins contained in these products. Instead, consider using safer, non-toxic sprays and beneficial insects to help control pests in your garden. And be sure to store all gardening products well out of your puppy’s reach. Many of these products can make your puppy seriously ill if he gets into them.

3 Tips For Deterring Bad Behavior

If your puppy is roaming around picking up sticks and decorative bark to chew on, or looking for places to dig in the garden, you’ll need to find him better outlets for his natural urges. Here are some suggestions on channeling your puppy’s needs.

1. Provide Him With Chew Toys

Provide your puppy with safe chewing alternatives. A wide variety of chew toys are available from pet product manufacturers, and you’ll see everything from deer antlers to rubber balls on the pet store shelves. Consult with your veterinarian on the best type of dental chew he or she recommends. Not all chew toys are safe for puppies.

2. Build Him A Sandbox

If your puppy is a digger, consider creating a sandbox for him where he’s allowed to dig. This can be his special place, and the only spot where digging is permitted.

3. Tire Him Out

Give your puppy plenty of exercise. The more exercise he gets, the less energy he will have for chewing and digging. Brain games for dogs are a terrific way to entertain your dog while tiring him out. Feed him his meals in one of these games to make him work for it. You’ll find an assortment of brain games at online pet supply outlets.

Remember that very young puppies shouldn’t spend large amounts of unsupervised time in the backyard. Not only can they get into trouble back there, they are also susceptible to predators like coyotes or hawks, and can be affected by extremes in weather. Stay with your puppy when he’s outdoors, and bring him in if you won’t be able to keep an eye on him.

Article Categories:
Dogs · Puppies