Having a new puppy join your household can change your life. The snuggles and kisses make getting up in the middle of the night for potty breaks worth it, but in the whirlwind of change, it’s easy to forget some practicalities. For example, should you inform your insurance company about your new dog? Are there things you can do to keep your puppy safer? What about protecting yourself financially if your dog bites someone? Here’s what you need to know as a dog owner.
A New Puppy and Insurance Coverage
Whether you own your own home or rent, you probably have insurance coverage for the property. And you should definitely let your insurance company know if you have a new puppy because it may change your policy.
First, you want to know if you’re covered for things like damage caused by your dog. Also, you need to find out if you should add more protection (see dog bite liability below).
Pro tip: while you’re inquiring about insurance coverage, it’s worth asking your insurance agent about your vehicle. Are you covered if your pooch chews a hole in the seat (it doesn’t just happen in the movies) or punctures something with its nails?
Keeping Your Pup Safe
Did you know that Great Dane puppies grow as much in a year as the average human does from birth to high school? While your dog may become practically pony-size very quickly, you still need to protect it while it’s tiny. Here are some home puppy-proofing tips, so hopefully, you won’t have to rely on that pet insurance policy:
Remove attractive items like shoes and kids’ toys until your dog learns not to chew on human belongings or can reliably respond to “Leave it!”
Investing in pet gates can protect your puppy from hazards and rooms you want to keep dog-free.
Decide from the start if you want to allow your puppy on the furniture. Once you have a policy, be consistent. It’s perfectly okay to insist your pup sleeps in its own bed and doesn’t romp on your sofa.
Keep your pup on a leash, even at places like the dog park, until its recall (coming when you call its name) is trustworthy. Never walk your puppy off leash in places where this is not allowed, even if you think your dog won’t roam. It can still get into garbage or chase a squirrel into the road.
Seriously consider crate training your puppy. This will give you a safe place to leave your dog in your absence or when you have workers in the house. It’s also great for calming down an anxious or high-energy dog — bonus points for helping with potty training, as dogs generally won’t go where they sleep.
Don’t forget about your yard. It’s best not to leave very young dogs unsupervised there, even for a minute, but you still need to check for toxic plants, gaps in the fence, and other dangers. Make sure gates shut firmly, and consider posting a sign if people enter your yard for landscaping or playtime with kids. Chasing a loose puppy through your neighborhood (they always seem to get away when you’re still in your pajamas) isn’t nearly as fun as it looks!
Find a good vet before you bring your new puppy home or soon thereafter, and they can offer more tips specific to your breed and lifestyle.
The Importance of Dog Bite Liability Coverage
Even the most friendly dog can wind up biting someone if it is scared, or believes it’s defending its owner or home. And of course, some breeds are more protective than others, particularly as they grow, and larger breeds can inflict serious damage with a bite.
That’s why every new puppy owner should discuss dog bite liability coverage with their insurance agent. Your current renters insurance and homeowners insurance policies may cover liability up to a certain amount, but dog owners might want to supplement that with a personal umbrella policy.