Cindy is an entrepreneurial mother of 4 running two home-based businesses. Lori is a newlywed and substitute teaches. Barb is a corporate accountant and happily single. Other than being neighbors, what do they have in common? They see their dogs as full-fledged family members! So it is with many of the 4 in 10 US households with dogs. Yet for most of these loving pet owners, their homes were not designed with pets in mind. From floorplan layouts to material selections to innovative amenities, pet-centric homes make life better for Snoopy and his owners.

Designing homes with dogs in mind starts with planning their transition space between indoors and out.
Let’s face it—our dogs are going to have muddy paws. They’ll be soaked coming in from the rain. Therefore, hard-surface flooring is a “must” in that transition space. In our former house, we would let our dogs out through a sliding patio door at the back of our carpeted family room. Even with throw rugs by the door, you couldn’t keep the carpet clean. Rapidly gaining popularity is a pet center in the rear foyer or near the back door. Equipped with amenities such as a doggie shower and kennel space (a great solution for our pampered pooches to dry out in), pet centers are a dog-lover’s dream! Don’t have room for a pet center? Consider a flip-up bench in the rear foyer. Handy for sitting down to remove shoes, the storage inside can be used for pet supplies, dog toys, food bowls, etc. Storage is a major issue. Just where are you going to keep those 50-pound bags of dog food, treats, hair brushes, leashes and other pet supplies? Then there’s aging issues. While your dogs may be healthy now, many have difficulty climbing stairs as they get older. You won’t want to be carrying your 70-pound labradoodle up and down icy steps in the winter. A one-story home makes life so much simpler for dogs with arthritis.

Care in choosing certain materials in the home helps eliminate future frustration and regrets.
Flooring is a major decision. After seven years of watching our four children throw old socks or a tennis ball for the dogs to fetch and having the dogs slide across our wood floors, those floors show lots of scratches. The “harder” the wood the better. The lighter the wood, the less the scratches will show. But—ceramic tile might be a better choice. Ceramic is very durable, easy to clean, and non-porous. Concrete and some other stone floors are porous, absorbing urine, spit-up and other “accidents”. Sheet vinyl, while easy to clean, can get scratched and gouged by your dog’s toenails. Linoleum is a good choice.

Where you do have carpeting, consider a low-pile which is easier to keep clean. Pet hair gets easily entwined with carpet fiber, so a good vacuum cleaner is a must. Look for some of the newer carpets with advanced stain resistance. If you choose in-floor radiant heating, your dogs won’t be so adamant about sleeping in your bed, as they’ll be just as warm laying on the floor. (Your toes will thank you, too!) And, think about where you will allow your dogs to roam. Many will follow the sun throughout the day to bask in its warmth. How your home is oriented in relation to the sun’s path and having windows on more than one side of a room will provide more opportunities for napping in the sunlight. Avoid flat paint on interior walls. The oils in your dog’s fur will undoubtedly rub off on the walls, causing shiny areas. Washable eggshell, satin or semi-gloss paints are best for easy cleanup around your pets. Recently, Dutch-Boy introduced Refresh paint with Arm & Hammer baking soda to help eliminate odors. One last thought – Moen offers a line of hot/cold outside faucets. If Snoopy likes to roll around in the dead fish by the lake near your home, or just finished digging after the mouse by your flowerbed, having warm water to bathe him in is a lot more pleasant for both of you.

“Pampering” has joined with “necessity” as the mother of invention when it comes to new pet-centric solutions in some of today’s homes.
Solo makes motorized sliding pet doors triggered by a sensor on your dog’s collar. When your dog wants to go outside, the motorized door opens as he approaches. No more having to get up in the middle of your favorite TV show to let the dog out! Several websites offer Pet Murphy Beds which fold up out of the way when not in use. Have a dog with a bad back? Consider a raised “step” for his water and food bowls, so he doesn’t have to bend over as far. But my favorite example of canine indulgence is wiring a TV in the pet zone so your dog can watch Animal Planet any time he wants!

If you’re like Cindy, Barb and Lori—and you would sooner take your pet to the vet than yourself to the doctor—planning a pet-friendly home now will keep you out of the doghouse later!

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