For many dog parents, decorating choices seem limited to bone-shaped furniture, upholstery designed to blend with dog hair and stenciled paw prints on every reachable surface. However, for the enterprising pet parent not resigned to Décor a la Phideaux, there are less drastic ways to accommodate your beloved pets in your home decorating schemes. Start by clearly defining the essentials for happy, healthy dogs, to ensure that design changes fully incorporate their needs, while providing the aesthetic you crave.
Most dog owners prefer not to have the dog's bowl sitting in the middle of the floor in any room, but generally choose the kitchen as the least obstructive option. However, dog bowls need not be in the way. Take advantage of wasted space under kitchen or laundry room counter tops and islands, behind filler panels under built-in appliances or even inside a bottom kitchen drawer, to build-in convenient feeding stations for your dogs. Pull out the bowls for feeding, then wash and replace them in their hidden compartments when company comes or they are no longer needed. Install an automatic doggie fountain on a wall near a sink and hook into the handy plumbing there to avoid messy water bowl spills, while keeping fresh water always available.
If tripping over dogs sprawled on rugs is getting old, invest in three good dog mattresses and make or buy at least two washable, durable denim or canvas covers for each. No matter where you put them, wash and change covers at least once a week to eliminate hair and odor. Match the color and fabric of sofa, chairs or bedspreads as closely as possible to make mattresses less obvious and get extra material to use as washable furniture pads. Make use of space beneath beds or tables to hide beds when not in use, stack them like floor cushions, or place them on bases to resemble ottomans. Some well-made wooden dog crates can do double duty as end tables, or upcycle an old television console into a one-of-a-kind dog bed/crate. Perhaps the ultimate sleep space is a built-in bed under stairs or in a cabinet.
It makes sense to have the rambunctious playtime outdoors, but that isn't always possible. When your pack wants to play during a monsoon or when you just can't muster the energy, it's a good idea to have some indoor distractions. Keep a compatibly styled dog toy chest handy to hide the balls, puzzles and tugs, or put them in a window-seat storage compartment. For those soft cuddly toys and items too big to hide, purchase them in coordinating colors to match the room. That way when you can't pick them up, they will blend in and make clutter less obvious.
Probably the hardest part of maintaining a neat and stylish interior space is keeping it free of all the muddy dog prints your pooches track in from play and potty time outdoors. The owners of The Paw House Inn, a dog-friendly bed and breakfast in Vermont recommend using slate or marble pavers outside the entrance to a mud room to help clean muddy paws before they get inside. You could use brick or even concrete pavers in a similar way. Have your dogs use a back entry or one that opens into a hard-surfaced floor to keep mess to a minimum and add a long, washable rug or mat inside the door to catch even more dirt.
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