Like all adorable youngsters, puppies are newbies when it comes to navigation, balance and intuitive good sense. That's why owners need to be careful when allowing pups to play or roam on dangerously high structures like home decks and balconies. Puppies can easily fall off, causing serious harm to themselves.
Backyard decks and apartment and condominium balconies may appear inviting to humans, but they can pose a grave danger to puppies. Because pups are so small and thin -- not to mention inquisitive and, yes, even hyper! -- they can easily sneak between the slats of a railing and fall. Even a small fall can be injurious since your puppy has soft bones that easily break, and landing on his head can even be fatal.
Danger of Tethering
Lest you think a better idea of deck and balcony safety would be to leash or tether your puppy, think again. While leashing or tethering will certainly confine the pup to one place, he can still slip through the railings and fall ... and ultimately hang himself. It takes only a few minutes for a dog to stop breathing, and even if you are able to save him in time, the collar can harm his trachea.
Other Decking & Balcony Dangers
Besides the possibility of falling, puppies can also be exposed to other dangers, such as the toxic chemical chromated copper arsenate that is often used to pressure-treat the wood decks are made of. If you have this type of wood, always wash your pup's feet after he comes in from the deck. Also, old decks can splinter, injuring your pup's paws, so a good resanding may be in order.
Best Safety Practice
Above all, don't leave your puppy on a deck or balcony alone -- always have someone around to supervise. If possible, line the railings with a material -- such as mesh, netting, chicken-wire or plastic garden fencing -- that will prevent him from slipping through the railing and falling. Acrylic sheets of clear plastic, which won't block the outdoor view, are another aesthetically pleasing possibility. Bottom line: As with children, never leave puppies unattended.
Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.