Why the kitchen?
If you will be leaving a new puppy, under the age of 12 weeks, for any longer than 2 hours at a time, you will need a larger area than the puppy’s crate. The kitchen is the ideal place, since it comes with non-porous floors, is usually close to cleaning supplies, and usually has lots of people traffic for socialization.
What will you need?
- Baby Gates or an Exercise Pen
- A Non-Spill Bowl of Water
- Chew Toys
- Food-Based Activity Toys
- Potty Pads
- Optional: Puppy Crate (no bedding)
- Optional: Chew-Proof Bed (like a Kuranda bed)
Baby Gates or an Exercise Pen:
These are to block off the room so that the puppy can’t leave and run wild in the house.
A smallish kitchen that is easily baby gated off is the simplest set up. Just choose a baby gate that is tall enough for your puppy. Get a little taller than you think you will need in case you get a climber. I also recommend a baby gate that has vertical bars only. Some of them have a wire grid, which will encourage climbing.
If you have an open concept kitchen, you will likely need an exercise pen for your puppy. Be warned that many puppies will learn to push the exercise pens around the room to get to what they want, so make sure to anchor the exercise pen in place somehow. You can use chairs to block it, or put a large blanket on the bottom to keep the puppy from pushing it (though the puppy may just pull up the blanket and push anyway. When I have puppies who can’t seem to be left in an exercise pen unsupervised without creating total destruction, I’ll switch to a baby gated bathroom or large crate instead.
I do not recommend leaving a lot of water unsupervised, since it will inevitably become a puppy-created kiddie pool. I usually fill the bowl about 1/4 to 1/3 of way when I leave. Every time I come back, I’ll fill the bowl all the way and give the puppy a nice long drink a few minutes before I take him out for his walk. Before I leave again, I’ll empty the bowl out to 1/4 of the way full.
You will want to have several chew toys such as ones made of hard plastic or rubber. Depending on the puppy, you may also be able to use natural chew items like bully sticks.
Food-Based Activity Toys:
Stay tuned for a post about activity toys!
I really like the potty pads that tape to the ground. Some people even have luck with the potty pad frames that you can snap the potty pad into so that it lays flat.
In addition to securing the potty pad to the ground, I strongly suggest thoroughly exercising your puppy before putting him in the kitchen unsupervised, as well as leaving him with plenty of chew toys and activity toys. This will stack the odds in your favor that he will not turn the potty pads into an activity toy by shredding them to bits while you are gone (though no guarantees!). Once he “discovers” potty pads are a fun “toy,” there is no going back. So, I always recommend trying to prevent the problem from ever occurring to begin with.
I do not recommend leaving any plush toys or bedding, since puppies can rip and ingest any fabric. I don’t even leave puppies with towels if they are unsupervised. Not only is it dangerous, it can teach the bad habit that shredding fabric is fun to do when you are bored!