Time to puppy-proof the White House

Consumer Reports News: April 13, 2009 05:19 PM

At long last the Obama girls are getting their puppy—a Portuguese water dog named Bo. You can "Meet Bo" on the White House Web site and he's to be officially introduced tomorrow.

Porties, as enthusiasts call them, can be a rambunctious breed, according to Billy Rafferty, a dog expert who held a live chat today on the Washington Post's Web site. "What's most important is that they receive a lot of exercise to channel their energy," Rafferty said.

A puppy's antics can be amusing but pups are prone to getting into piles of trouble. And while we can imagine that there will be no shortage of people to look out for the little fellow, there are some things that can be done to puppy-proof the White House and keep Bo safe.

Electrical cords. Puppies like to chew on things and electrical cords are no exception. Chewing on cords can be fatal. Conceal or cover them whenever possible.

Houseplants. Some houseplants, such as azalea, lilies, ivy and begonias, can be toxic to dogs. The White House florist may want to do a little research on which plants are safe and also place any plants or flower arrangement out of Bo's reach.

Small toys and objects. Swallowing a Lego block or one of Barbie's accessories can cause a dog to choke or result in an intestinal blockage. To get a dog's-eye view of the room, a handler can get down on hands and knees and remove any small items she sees.

Supervision. If a puppy has to be left alone, it's best to put him in an enclosed area with a few safe toys. Pet or baby gates can be used to corral the critter. And to keep the curious canine from wandering off, close off stairwells, porches and balconies.

Visitors. The White House gets a lot of them. When company is coming, keep the dog in a quiet place, away from the action. Dogs can become frightened or agitated by the unaccustomed sights and sounds of strangers. (Remember that Bo's predecessor, Barney, bit a reporter on the White House lawn last November.)

Dog bites. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of dog bite-related injuries is highest for children ages 5 to 9 years, and children are more likely than adults to receive medical attention for dog bites. The first family should take care when introducing Bo to Sasha's and Malia's  pals.

Doggie ID. We haven't learned yet whether the Secret Service will give Bo his own secret moniker but it's always a good idea for a dog to wear proper identification. If for any reason Bo escapes and becomes lost—say in Chicago, Hawaii or Camp David—a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances that he will be found.


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