Dog owners, I’ve got some bad news. Almost everything is potentially dangerous to dogs. Google any pet related item or activity, and I promise you’ll find a few horror stories about it. Hit the streets with your dog often enough, and you’ll probably get some unsolicited advice about everything you’re doing wrong. This is why so much of good pet ownership comes down to knowing your dog.
Some dogs have a bad habit of ingesting non-food, and everything from rocks to toys to walls are potentially deadly. These dogs require a vet check to make sure it’s behavioral, and also training and careful confinement and management. A crate or dog-proofed room is probably a good idea for them, and training them to wear a muzzle to prevent them from eating sidewalk snacks might be a good option. Other dogs might panic and try to escape from a crate or small room and injure themselves that way. One size does not fit all dogs.
Many experts will tell you that dog doors are dangerous, and they are, for the wrong neighborhood, yard, and dog. If your fence isn’t secure or your dog is an escape artist or noisy, or your neighbors are a threat, then a dog door is a horrible idea, but many dogs live safe, happy, lives while enjoying the extra freedom a dog door offers.
When I’m trying to make decisions for my dogs, I try to balance their particular habits with their desires, their environment, and the likely outcome. My dogs would like to sleep in my room, but my particular hounds need to be kept apart from my cats, so my bedroom is cat only. I’ve opted not to crate train my dogs because they prefer to have more freedom and my house is set up for that, but if they were prone to swallowing dangerous things or a breed that is likely to require extended crate rest for medical reasons, that would be a bad choice. I let my dogs out in my yard without direct supervision because my fence is very secure and they don’t want to escape, but if they were small dogs that would be unsafe in my neighborhood because we have problems with coyotes.
Picking a chew is one area where it seems like every option is bad, and for some dogs, some types of chews are bad. Plastic chews aren’t digestible so dogs who might chew off a piece large enough to cause a blockage shouldn’t have them. Antlers have been reported to break teeth in some dogs. Rawhide and bone chews have been known to cause impactions and splintered bones are dangerous to swallow. You have to carefully assess your dogs chewing habits and see what they like and can be safe with. Maybe your dog can only chew frozen food-sicles safely. My dogs are allowed to have antlers because they aren’t vigorous chewers and have no dental problems. If I thought they were likely to break teeth, I would avoid them, and if I’m wrong I’ll be responsible for the vet bills.
It can be stressful as a first time dog owner trying to figure out what’s safe for your dog, and sometimes experienced dog owners can have trouble adjusting to the needs of a new addition. This is especially true with puppies and adolescents after you’ve gotten accustomed to a nice, mellow adult dog. Accidents certainly happen to everyone, but by just observing your new dog for a few months, you can be much more confident you’re making the right choice for your pets.