A recent email from the Coton Club about pet friendly houses got me thinking about good design, and how it should include planning for our pets. Creating a home should be about making it function well for all members of the family, dogs (and cats) included! Many of my clients have pets, and my husband and I share our lives with three beautiful bichons, so I’ve given a lot of thought to this topic.
Here are some tips you might find helpful:
- Quilted pads for upholstered furniture: Dogs leave pawprints on our hearts, but that doesn’t mean we want those prints on our furniture. I use custom-made quilted pads to protect my upholstered furniture while snuggling with G.G., Tuffy and Ellie. They’re made in the same fabric as my upholstery, and they tuck in behind the seat cushions. They stay in place, and since they’re channel quilted for a smooth, professional look, you can’t tell there’s a pad in place at all.
- Outdoor shower facilities: If you take your pal to the beach, or on hikes in the woods, you’re going to bring home a wet and messy dog. In inclement weather, even a trip to the backyard can result in dirty paws. It’s easy to plan for at least a spigot close to your backdoor; if you have the space and the desire, an outdoor doggy shower will work wonders to keep your home clean. You can include a grooming table (in the laundry room, for example) if this is a job you like to do yourself.
- Choose non-toxic cleaning products: It’s important to clean your home with products that aren’t loaded with dangerous chemicals for your own health, but consider the risks to your pets as well. They don’t need to actually ingest a poison in order to be made ill; the same fumes and odors that cause asthma in humans can also cause pets to suffer.
- Doggy doors give easy access to fenced yards: If your yard is safely enclosed, then you might consider a doggy door so that your dog can go out and sun himself when he’s in the mood for some fresh air. If you have very small dogs, however, remember that they can be at risk from hawks and owls, so simply having a fenced yard isn’t a safe option. I have an eight foot fence around my property to keep out the predators, such as coyotes, and tick-carrying deer. Read more about a safe and healthy garden for pets here.
- Dogs need beds, too: Your friend will thank you for giving her a cushioned resting place for naps and nighttime, especially if she’s older. Hips and elbows can become stiff from exposure to cold, hard floors, so make sure she has a soft place to lay her head.
- Use Natural Flea and Tick Controls: See my May 2011 post on fighting pests without harming our pets or the environment here.
- Provide a view: As much as you enjoy looking out at the world, so do your pets. In my home, G.G., Tuffy and Ellie have the luxury of big French doors and lots of glass to let the sunshine in, and they can gaze out to their heart’s content. If you have dogs or cats, plan on lots of windows, and a way for them to access them.
- Give your dog a room of his own: Not everyone will have space in their home to do this, but if you do, setting aside a room where your dog can have his crate, his food and water bowls, and his toys will give him a secure place when you’re not home. Crate-trained dogs often find great security in their little homes, so if you don’t have an entire room to devote to it, consider a closet, or even a beautifully designed frame that makes it look more like a piece of furniture than a cage. Simply covering the crate with a blanket makes it a secure, cave-like space for an anxious pooch.
- Set aside a cabinet or shelf for doggy items: Don’t forget to plan for your pet when designing storage systems. You’ll want to organize her leashes, collars, and collapsible water bowls for walks; you’ll need a place to store his food and medicines, as well as favorite toys.
- Keeping it clean: When your best friend sheds, it’s worth it to invest in high quality vacuum cleaners with dander filters, indoor air filtration systems, and handheld carpet cleaners for dealing with emergencies. Loving our pets is easier when taking care of them is a cinch.