Friday, April 18, 2014

Puppy-proofing goes horribly wrong

Sinead the Boston terrier with a cut on her head

The raised garden beds in my backyard are a haven for all sorts of plants, including peas, lettuce and radish. They also seem to be irresistible to both Liam and Sinead, as they seem to love to hop in there and dig, dig, dig.

I don't use any kind of slug bait or other pesticides in the raised beds, and it's too early for me to put fertilizers on the plants (I'd probably burn them if I did), so it's theoretically safe for the dogs to play in there. But, I don't really want them eating some of the plants I'm trying to grow. Radishes, peppers and tomatoes aren't necessarily great foods for dogs to eat, and I'm really trying to grow them for my own table, thank you very much.

So my husband and I found some spare chicken wire in the shed, and we put it over the top of the raised beds. The dog watched us put that wire down, and they walked all around the perimeter, sniffing that wire.

But not 5 minutes later, Sinead ran right into that wire with the top of her head and walked away with a pretty nasty gash between the eyes. I know we got lucky here, as she could have scratched an eye with that wire, and she might have even put an eye out in the process. In the end, she didn't even need to go to the veterinarian (although I called, just to make sure).

But it got me to thinking: How dog-proofed can a yard really be? If I show her the enclosures I'm planning to build, and she has an opportunity to check them out, and she still walks away with a cut, how can I keep her safe?

Sinead the Boston terrier as a puppy

Right now, I'm trying to train her to respond to the word "slow." The theory is that I can holler at her when she's about to do something unsafe, like leap off the deck, carry a huge toy down the stairs, run past wire at high speed or any of the other things she likes to do that terrify me. If I can get her to slow down and think a little bit, maybe she won't be at an intense risk of getting hurt.

But I'm also hoping this is a puppy clumsy phase she'll grow out of. Maybe when she's older, she'll take things a little slower and she won't put her health in jeopardy. In the interim, however, I'm glad I have pet insurance for her. Looks like I might need it.

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