For today’s Get Organized for the Summer reader question, I called on my friend professional organizer Janine Adams. April asked a question about keeping her puppy safe during the summer. While I have dogs, I’m by no stretch of the imagination an expert on dog training or puppies. But Janine spent ten years (1995 to 2005) making a living writing about pets, primarily dogs. She is the author of seven books, contributed to four anthologies and wrote over 100 newspaper and magazine articles, for such outlets as Family Circle, the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor and the Bark. She also won four writing awards from the Dog Writers Association of America. Plus, Janine is a dog owner and her dog is very well behaved. (And he was a super cute puppy, too, don’t you think? This is Janine’s dog, Kirby, as a puppy.) 

Kirby as a puppy

So I thought Janine was the perfect person to answer April’s question about keeping her puppy safe this summer. Here is April’s question: 

question markNo Kids, but new puppy here. This is my first puppy ever and my 2nd dog. When I married my husband he came with a grown dog. While he was good he did have a few issues regarding training at time. Seems so simple in comparison.

But anyway around here we will be trying to have fun outdoors while puppy learns the ropes. After having him for a week now he likes the back yard and wants to explore while on his leash, but I fear a visit or 2 with some cacti will not go well for either of us once he is off leash. How do I limit this? How do I organize back yard to make it puppy fun so he doesn’t hear the word “NO” all the time? Puppies are like babies everything must be tested via the mouth…weeds, rocks, you name it. Going to be fun but he is darn cute.

Here’s Janine’s answer: Puppy parenting, like parenting a toddler, is more about patience, persistence, training and constant supervision than about organizing. Here are some ideas to help you transition into life with a puppy this summer.

You could erect temporary or permanent barricades to keep your puppy safe from things like cacti. I’m assuming your yard is fenced so that he’ll be safe off-leash eventually. (If it isn’t, I wouldn’t recommend letting him use the yard unsupervised off-leash, ever, and even with supervision it’s dangerous.)

When he picks up stuff in his mouth, have a squeak or chew toy handy to substitute for the offending item. When you see him going toward an object that’s not great for him to explore, distract him rather than waiting for him to get to it and then telling him no. While you’re in the yard with him, use treats to practice teaching him to come–a very important command and also a great way to get him to pay attention to you.

When he’s old enough for training, you’ll be able to remove the temporary barricades and teach him what’s off limits. But you’re right, it just gets really tiresome to tell a puppy no all the time. I’d encourage you to search the website for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers to find a positive trainer who can help you with your puppy as he gets older.

Thanks, April, for your question, and thank you Janine for your great answer! If you’re a dog lover and have any additional puppy tips to share with April, we’d love to hear from you!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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