For new dog owners, prospective adopters, and veteran dog parents alike, dog safety is a top concern.
There are so many elements to dog safety, and so much you have to take into consideration in order to keep your pup as safe, healthy, and happy as possible.
So whether you’re a new pup parent, a seasoned dog owner, or you’re just beginning to consider adopting a furry new friend, this is the guide you need to keep your dog safe. The ultimate guide to dog safety covers everything you need to consider, from dog safety at home to dog safety while traveling — plus all the supplies and tools you need to make sure you dog stays safe no matter where you are.
Dog Safety at Home
Most likely, your dog will be spending most of its time at your home, which means this is the first place to focus on creating a safe environment for your pup. Here are all the steps you need to take to ensure dog safety at home.
Train Your Dog in Basic Obedience and Common Commands
Training your dog in basic obedience could protect him or her from many dangerous situations. If your dog consistently comes to you when called, you can keep him from running away or wandering into a dangerous place, like a busy road. If your dog sits, lies down, and stays on command, you’ll have better control over her in public places. And don’t forget “drop it,” which can save your dog’s life if he picks up something dangerous on a walk.
Crate Train Your Dog
It’s not cruel to keep you dog in a crate sometimes — in fact, most dogs instinctively feel safe in a cozy spot like a crate. More importantly, training your dog to crate on command and be comfortable in a crate will protect them when traveling, or if you ever need to keep them in a safe spot in your home — for example, if the front door needs to be left open or you have a visitor who doesn’t like dogs.
Make Sure Your Home (and Yard) is Fully Secure
One of the biggest parts of keeping your dog safe at home is making sure he can’t get away from home. That means making sure your house and yard are secure — don’t leave windows or doors open that your dog can sneak out of, and make sure your fence is high enough and free from damaged spots or openings your dog can get through.
Keep Plants and Chemicals Out of Reach
Many common houseplants are poisonous to dogs — and even the ones that aren’t toxic may not be great to chew on. The same goes for common household chemicals, like cleaning supplies. Make sure all of these are kept in places that are securely out of reach of your dog, like in cabinets or on high shelves.
Protect Your Dog from Dangerous, Chewable Items
There are other things in your home that might be dangerous if your dog chews on them, like cords, electronics, and plastic items. Keep these things out of reach, and train your dog not to chew on things that aren’t appropriate to chew on.
Know What Foods Are Off-Limits for Dogs
In addition to household items, there are some foods that can be dangerous for dogs. Many common human foods are toxic, but this can go for dog food and treats as well — some brands may include ingredients that aren’t the healthiest for your dog. Make sure you carefully research your dog’s diet, and ask your vet for a food recommendation if you aren’t sure.
Keep Your Dog’s Toys in Good Condition
Make it a habit to periodically check your dog’s toys for damage that could make them dangerous. For example, check plastic or rubber toys to make sure your dog isn’t able to tear off and swallow pieces. If your dog likes plush toys, supervise him while playing with them to make sure he doesn’t ingest any fabric or stuffing.
Make a Dog First Aid Kit
Every home with a dog should have a dog first aid kit. Some things to include:
- Medical tape
- Antiseptic ointment
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Your pet’s medical records
- Contact information for your vet, pet poison control, and a nearby emergency animal hospital
Get a Pets At Home Window Decal
If your home ever faces an emergency like a fire or a flood, you need a way to let emergency services know that you have animals. Many companies make window decals that you can fill out and stick near your home’s doors that show how many pets are inside.
Make Sure Your Dog Gets Plenty of Exercise
There’s more to keeping your dog safe than just keeping him out of danger. He also depends on you to help him stay healthy and happy, which means providing as much exercise and enrichment as he needs.
Get Regular Health Checkups for Your Dog
The same goes for veterinary care. Dogs need regular yearly checkups that include vaccines, deworming, flea and tick treatment, and dental care.
Get Your Dog Microchipped
No matter where you get your dog, make sure he or she is microchipped — and if not, get a microchip inserted by your vet. Then, make sure to keep your dog’s microchip registry up-to-date with your current contact information. It could help you be reunited if your dog ever gets lost.
Spay or Neuter Your Dog
Part of being a responsible dog owner is getting your pup spayed or neutered. Not only does this protect your dog from health issues that could come with irresponsible or accidental breeding, but it also protects future dogs by limiting the number of new dogs in the world, when so many are already in shelters looking for homes.
Dog Safety in Hot Weather
When it’s hot outside, there are all kinds of new dog safety considerations.
Make Sure Your Dog Has Constant Access to Clean Water
Your dog should always have access to a bowl of fresh, clean water, but this is especially true on hot days. If the temperature is soaring, give your dog extra bowls, both inside and outside, and refill them frequently.
Make Sure Your Dog Has Shade
If your dog is outside on a hot day, make sure he has access to shady spots where he can get out of the sun and cool down.
Never Leave Your Dog Alone in the Car
You should never leave your dog unattended in a car, but on hot days, this is a matter of life and death. The temperature inside a car is much warmer than outside, so even on a mild spring day, the inside of your car can reach dangerously hot temperatures. It only takes a few minutes in a hot car for a dog to suffer potentially life-threatening heat stroke.
Dog Safety in Cold Weather
During cold weather, there are also extra things you can do to keep your dog safe.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside Overnight or for Long Time Periods
Even if your dog likes spending a lot of time outdoors, during very cold weather, you should bring her inside frequently to warm up. Don’t leave your dog outside overnight if it’s very cold outside.
Get Your Dog a Coat and Boots if Needed
Some dogs don’t have thick enough fur to protect them from the cold. If you have a very small dog or a short-haired breed, consider getting them some sweaters, a coat, or boots to help them stay warm on cold-weather walks.
Check Your Dog’s Water for Ice
If your dog has an outdoor water bowl, check it frequently during cold weather. If it freezes solid, your dog won’t have access to water.
Give Your Dog Appropriate Shelter
It’s OK for your dog to spend some time in your yard when it’s cold out, as long as he has appropriate shelter where he can escape the elements and warm up as needed. This can be a dog house, or a crate placed in a sheltered spot and filled with some cozy blankets.
Dog Safety on Walks
Taking your dog for walks is an important daily part of helping him or her get enough exercise and socialization. Here’s how to keep dog safety front and center when you’re out and about.
Have a Collar or Harness that Fits Correctly
Out on a walk is one of the easiest times for a dog to run away. That’s why it’s so important to have a collar or harness that fits correctly and keeps your pup safe and secure.
Always Have an ID Tag on Your Dog’s Collar
Since it’s so easy for dogs to get away on walks, always have an up-to-date ID tag on your pup’s collar or harness. That way, if they break away and get found, the person who finds them will immediately know how to get in touch with you.
Only Let Your Dog Off-Leash in Safe and Appropriate Areas
Dogs should only ever be let off leash if they’re well-trained and in a secure and safe area, like an enclosed dog park. As tempting as it might be to let your pet off leash on a hiking trail, it’s just not safe to do so.
Keep Your Dog’s Distance from Other Dogs
While walking, it’s important to keep your dog away from strange dogs you encounter until you know both dogs are friendly. Even if your dog gets along with others, the other dog might not. If the other owner says it’s OK, let them approach each other slowly and carefully, and keep both dogs leashed in case they need to be separated suddenly.
Dog Safety in Public Places
Aside from walks, you may want to take your dog to other public places: festivals, markets, or a dog-friendly restaurant patio. Here’s how to keep them safe in public spaces.
Always Keep Your Dog On a Leash
Public places are almost never going to be appropriate places to let your dog off leash. If there’s food or other people around, keep him or her securely leashed at all times. And just in case your dog gets away from you, make sure he or she is wearing a Huan Smart Tag.
Train Your Dog to Handle Crowds and Noise
Before taking your dog to a public event, make sure he or she won’t be scared by crowds of people or unexpected noises. You can do this by gradually exposing your dog to more and more events as he or she ages. Keep your dog’s temperament in mind — some anxious dogs will never be able to handle crowded, loud events.
Leave Your Dog at Home If You Need To
On that note, know when it’s a better idea to leave your dog at home. We understand wanting to take your dog with you everywhere, but some events are just not dog friendly, and it’s sometimes just safer to leave your pup at home.
Essential Tools for Dog Safety
Dog safety isn’t just about doing the right things — you also need the right supplies to make sure your pup is as safe as possible in any situation. Here are some basics to get you started.
Collar or Harness and Leash
The first thing you need might be the most important: A collar or harness and a leash. You have many options for different types of collars and harnesses, so it’s important to do some research and choose what’s best for you and your dog. Whatever type you choose, make sure it fits properly so it keeps your pup secure.
Next up is an ID tag, which should have your contact information on it and should be worn any time your dog leaves the house. You can get an engraved ID tag at most pet stores or online, and you can keep it attached to your dog’s collar or harness.
Crates for At-Home and Traveling
Your dog should have a crate at home, and a more portable crate for traveling. It’s important to crate train your dog so he’s comfortable staying in his crate any time a situation arises where he needs to be crated.
Portable Water and Food Dishes
You don’t want to be caught outside of the house with no way to give your dog food or water, which is why portable bowls are another essential dog safety item. You can use collapsible bowls for an extra portable option if you need.