We all know the importance of keeping babies and children safe in the kitchen – and plenty of ways to do it – but what about our dogs? Ever nudged the fridge door closed with your hip or your foot because you don’t have any free hands, and turned around to nearly walk into, or trip over, the dog because he/she is right there?
With roaming priveleges seldom afforded to babies or toddlers, dogs can seemingly appear out of nowhere, especially if they’re not wearing collars while at home, until they’re right underfoot – literally.
Dogs usually like to be where their family members are, as well as where the food is. Boom. The kitchen. The one room where those two always come together – you might say at the intersection where life meets dog – and a potential perfect storm for danger and/or chaos.
With a few simple considerations, the storm can be averted and we can chart new waters. Safe waters for all involved: you, the dog, other pets, and those babies or children we mentioned earlier.
Danger Zone 1 – The Room At Large. Clear the room of bones or toys – the dog’s or the childrens’ – before you start prepping for meals. It’s so easy not to look down when you’ve got a knife in your hand or are on your way to the sink to drain a pot of boiling water.
Danger Zone 2 – The Floor. Take a quick scan of the floor for drool or water drips. Our Lab learned from Hansel and Gretel and leaves a nice big trail of water and drool wherever she goes. A quick swipe with a rag or old towel just for this purpose can go a long way to keeping the floor dry and safe during kitchen activities!
Danger Zone 3 – Food And Toxic Food. Watch for food on low levels. I noticed just the other night that I had left our pantry cupboard open to pour a dash of oil in a recipe, and before I knew it, the dog was licking the opening to the box of rice. Stir fry with a side of dog tongue? No thanks.
Also, food that tends to be stored on lower levels, especially in baskets under a kitchen island like garlic and onions, is toxic to dogs. It’s right at their snout level, so keep it up and out of reach. You’d do this for babies and children, so treat the dog’s safety the same way.
Danger Zone 4 – Cleansers And Chemicals. Make sure cleansers or chemicals stored on low levels are behind closed doors or aren’t accessible. And if they are behind a door, remember to keep it closed. A simple distraction can send you running from the room, forgetting that the cupboard under the sink (where many of us store chemicals) might still be open while you were peeling vegetables. Curious dogs will be drawn to the sweet smell of chemicals and all it takes is a snout to an open spray nozzle or a quick dart of the tongue to an unsecured lid of a bottle of cleanser.
Danger Zone 5 – Garbage And Recycling. Keep garbage and recycling bins off-limits to dogs. Don’t entice them by having either exposed or out in the open. Toxic foods, sharp edges, metal pieces, glass. Dangerous. Keep them tucked away or at least with a dog-proof way to open them like a step-can model or tension lid. We learned this the hard way with a swing-top model and a Lab puppy who was drawn to metal cans.
Danger Zone 6 – The Dishwasher. Dishwashers being left open. It’s easy to do. Again, a simple distraction can get the best of you here too. Dogs can trip over the door, bang their head into it, lick the clean – or most likely the dirty – dishes (either way, not the type of dishwashing we’re looking for), or take items from it – like sharp cutlery, vegetable peelers, or citrus implements which are really really razor-like.
Danger Zone 7 – Overstocked Fridges And Freezers. Before we replaced our cramped side-by-side fridge/freezer with a top-bottom model, we were constantly pulling out jammed items and the dog got a bag or two of frozen peas to the head. Frozen rump roast on the paw? Pretty sure that’s awful. Trying to keep things organized and stocked better in the fridge and freezer has gone a long way for us.
Juno actually still moves away from the fridge if she’s lying in front of it when we go to open it. She no longer needs to, because it’s just the top that opens, but does anyway. She probably thinks ‘better safe than sorry’ – I guess she got conditioned by one too many bags of those peas!
Juno has sought out her own spot to lie while we cook. There’s no way she’s not going to be in the kitchen during meal prep. We’re in there and the food’s in there, so she’ll be in there.
If you have a busier household, or just prefer your dog not to be in the kitchen during meal prep time, consider designating a spot for them to go when the food comes out and cooking begins. It could be by the doorway if they enjoy watching, or you could get luxurious about it and build them something like this:
How hilarious is this? In the middle of the action, but safely tucked away from the flow of traffic.
You could also occupy them with an activity: a walk, a game of chase or catch around the house, a dog puzzle, a bone (provided someone is watching them).
Hit us up with your kitchen safety tips in the comments. Does your dog like to watch while you cook, or do they steer clear of the (chaos) / activity? How do you keep your kitchen safe for your dog(s)?