Marni Jameson: How to design a dog-friendly house

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Marni Jameson: How to design a dog-friendly house

Marni Jameson: How to design a dog-friendly house

My husband, DC, comes home from work late to a family room littered with chew toys, a sleep-deprived wife with uncombed hair and a disappointingly empty refrigerator. Good sense keeps him from asking how my day’s been. Instead he asks if he should go get us takeout.

Though all our kids have left the nest, our new puppy, Pippin, has awakened my dormant maternal instincts. Our once-calm, well-ordered home has turned into a gated community that revolves around crate times and potty walks.

“Get your chew!” I say, pulling Pippin’s needle teeth off the rubber-tipped doorstop. He dives for my foot. “Not shoe! Chew!”

I turn to find his toy, and he goes for the bathmat. Meanwhile, DC is showering attention on our older dog, Peapod, who’s suffering a severe case of sibling rivalry. Her worried brow knits the question: “When’s he leaving?”

I reclaim the bathmat, and Pippin goes for Peapod’s water bowl. “She’s kidding, right?” says the look on Peapod’s face as Pippin plunges both front paws in the bowl.

Finally, after a busy hour, Pippin falls angelically asleep in his crate. And, like parents of a newborn, DC and I sigh, looking on with adoring, exhausted relief, knowing, that just like toddlers, they grow up fast. Ahh, puppy love.

If you want a pristine, well-ordered home, don’t have kids or pets. (In fact, having a spouse might be pushing it.) But my life wouldn’t feel complete without my pets. However, I also don’t want my house to look as if it’s gone to the dogs. For some more insights, I spoke with Dr. Ian Dunbar, a veterinarian, animal behaviorist and author from Berkeley. (You can download Dunbar’s books for free at www.Dogstardaily.com.)

Here are some tips.

Puppy-proof the place. Whenever Dunbar brings home a puppy, he rolls up all the area rugs and puts them in a closet. He puts toilet paper rolls on the back of the toilet, and ties up long drapery. The key: Look at your house from the dog’s level, then avert disaster and remove temptation. Take fragile items off low coffee tables and other surfaces at tail-wagging height. Place X-pens in front of off-limit areas, like computer cords and your shelf of antique books.

Make a doggie room. Don’t give a puppy more space than he can handle. “If you start a puppy with free run of the home and yard, you’re heading for disaster,” Dunbar said. Use crates for short-term confinement and for giving pups a chance to chill out between potty breaks or while you’re out on a short errand. For longer periods, create a doggie area. I use my laundry room. Put the pup’s crate on one end with the door open, a non-spillable supply of water, and chew toys stuffed with puppy food. At the opposite end put a toilet area. Some trainers use piddle pads. Dunbar recommends a plastic litter box with a piece of sod. (This was a muddy mess at my house.) “Let your pup earn his freedom room by room. In a year, if all goes well, he can have free run of the house and yard.”

Use dog-friendly fabrics. Leather is one of the best furniture coverings for homes with animals. Many great indoor-outdoor fabrics also work well inside. Crypton fabrics are especially durable and stain-resistant. Prints are more forgiving than solids, and washable slipcovers allow for easy cleaning. Whatever furniture fabric you use, get extra.

Find flooring for Fido. Hard flooring, such as wood, stone or tile, is far easier to clean than carpet. Many of today’s outdoor area rugs are beautiful enough for indoor use, and can be hosed off. Pick rugs in patterns that include the color of your pet’s fur.

Binge on bowls and bins. Splurge on fun pet accessories. Since your pet’s food bowl and bed will be in plain sight, find good-looking ones that coordinate with your interior. Don’t grab treats out of a bag, put pet toys in a heap, or toss the leash on the floor. That’s not gracious living. I got a gorgeous cookie jar for treats with a ceramic bone handle, a handsome leash that I put in an iron dog tray by the door, and a beautiful basket for our pups’ toys. If pets are part of your home life, design with them in mind.

Contact Marni Jameson at www.marnijameson.com.

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Published at Wed, 29 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000