A Dog’s Den Can Be A New Home’s Best Friend

Rachel BurrisOctober 21, 2019

You know that feeling of pride you get showing off your new home? It stems from the satisfaction of knowing that your new surroundings are clean, organized and just as you had imagined.

When you’re living in your new home, you want to preserve that new home feeling for as long as possible. But doing so can be challenging, especially if you have a furry friend sharing your residence. Instead of watching your tidy new digs turn shabby, take some time to prepare your home for playful pups by protecting your furnishings and creating a space that’s entirely for them.

Make Your Home Dog-Friendly

Even the best behaved dogs can have disastrous effects on home decor. While it may seem like wet hair, dirty paws and sticky slobber don’t mix with chic home designs, you can have it all if you just plan ahead.

Making your home dog-friendly is all about anticipating how your dog will interact with your new surroundings. With simple design choices, you can safeguard your home against your clumsy canine as you help them adapt to their new environment. So as you put the finishing touches on your new home, think about the materials you use to furnish it.

Cover Your Fabrics

Whenever your dog jumps up onto your upholstery, they leave behind a slew of foul-smelling and unpleasant-looking substances that you have to clean. If your home is upholstered in tweed, corduroy, silk or velvet, you’re going to have a dreadful time trying to keep it clean and spend a small fortune in the process.

If you’re adamant about having a couch made out of one of these fussy fabrics, make sure that it’s made with slipcovers you can remove and throw in the wash any time that wet-dog smell begins to take over. Otherwise, consider choosing more forgiving fabrics.

“There are some pretty darn chic furnishings out there (sofas, rugs, window treatments, pillows, etc.) that are made in stain-proof fabrics. Yes, stain-proof – the kind that say ‘nice try’ to muddy paw prints. The best of the best is Crypton and Sunbrella fabrics, but it’s a booming market these days and the options are expanding,” says Sherri Monte, a co-owner of Elegant Simplicity, an interior design and organizing firm in Seattle.

Choosing a stain-resistant fabric will be a lifesaver on those rainy days when your pup has been romping around outside. But as you consider the fabric you use to upholster your home, don’t forget about the color. For a sly way to make your fabrics appear clean, Monte has another great tip.

“Match your furniture color to your pet’s fur. If you have a white-haired dog and a black sofa …  Well, you can imagine the result, especially when the temps heat up in the summer and shedding season arrives with a flourish. Match the colors and voila!” she says.

That being said, Monte warns that you’ll still need to vacuum off the sofa every now and then to keep your guests from noticing stray hairs.

Shield Your Floors

Your fabrics aren’t the only things that tend to take a beating when you have a dog on the loose. Your floors also withstand quite a bit of abuse. Your four-legged friend has many nails, and they all play a role in scratching your floors. However, there are heartier flooring materials available that can withstand your dog’s cheerful clobbering.

“The best flooring for toenails would be tile flooring. Tile now comes in various styles that pretty much can satisfy anyone’s taste,” says Karen Gray-Plaisted, Owner of Design Solutions KGP, a home staging and decorating company based in New York.

She explains that while tile is a forgiving material, it’s not necessarily the coziest. Instead of tiling your entire home, Gray-Plaisted suggests, “Consider just the area where the pet will do most of its living. Consider the entrance, the space where the pet will have a bed and where playtime will most likely occur.”

To give your floor a warm, inviting feel, carpeting can do wonders. Yet, with dogs come a host of messes that you’ll have to clean up, and there are better ways to spend an afternoon than on your hands and knees, scrubbing the carpet.

Instead of installing traditional carpet in your home, Gray-Plaisted recommends using indoor/outdoor rugs. “If by any chance Fido has an accident, the whole carpet can be taken outdoors and hosed down for easy cleaning,” she says.

Get Ahead Of The Shed

If you’re the proud owner of a Siberian Husky or Chow Chow, you know that cleaning up after your furry companion can be a full-time job. While some breeds shed more than others, all dogs lose their fur from time to time.

Shedding is an inevitable hassle, but there are steps you can take to eliminate the amount of hair that accumulates in your home.

“Grooming your dog regularly is the number one thing you need to do if you want to reduce the amount of hair in your house. That means you should brush and bathe your dog on a regular basis. Getting the right kind of brush is also very important because not all dog coats are the same. Don’t let your dog sleep on the bed, and establish a ‘you can’t sit on the couch’ rule for your dog,” says Kristina Lalovic, editor at Barking Royalty.

But regardless of your grooming habits and the rules you set for your dog, you’ll still likely find fur scattered around any room that your dog has access to. There are several vacuum cleaners explicitly designed to remove pet hair. But there are even more efficient ways to handle shedding.

Dr. Sara Ochoa, a veterinarian and consultant for DogLab, recommends using robot vacuum cleaners. “You can set these to run at a certain time every day, and they will keep all the fur off the floor,” she says.

If you can keep the dog hairs at bay, you can invite guests over without having to worry about their allergies and maintain that new home feel far longer.

Construct A Cleaning Station

Even though you may have covered your fabrics, you still don’t want your dog drying off around your beautiful, new furniture. Fabrics quickly absorb smells, and that wet-dog scent can age your home quickly.

“Dogs always seem to bring dirt, mud, water and grass into the home. The best way to keep your house clean when you have a dog is to keep a few supplies at the door. With supplies easily accessible, it’s just a matter of giving your dog’s feet a swipe of a towel before they enter the home,” says Lisa Theriault, Founder of Your Dog’s Health Matters.

Creating a cleaning station by the front or back door of your home will keep your new place looking and smelling fresh. Use this area to remove the muck so your dog is clean before entering the rest of your home. You can store doggie essentials like wipes, leashes, bags and treats here, so they’re all in one organized place.

Make this area easy to clean, and you’ll be able to banish wet fur and muddy paws before they infiltrate your living space.

Build Boundaries

No matter what measures you take to dog-proof your home, you’ll likely find that they still fall short of protecting your belongings against your boisterous canine. Allowing your dog to have free-range over your entire home can be a recipe for disaster where your decor is concerned. If you’re worried about keeping your home neat and presentable for guests (and your own sanity), consider restricting your dog to one or two rooms.

“It is best to set boundaries at the very beginning when you get your dog. If you have decided that your dog is not permitted in the dining room, train them at the outset with a baby gate or other barrier. Another method is using the hand signal to stop, no words needed. This will help with other forms of training,” says Nate Masterson, a pet health expert and natural pet product developer for Honeydew Products.

If there are rooms in your home that you want your dog to avoid, Lalovic recommends making those rooms less appealing to your pup. “Put his bed far from those rooms, and never play or cuddle with your dog in those rooms,” she says.

Teaching your dog to respect your home means training them to understand the bounds set for them. If you cuddle with your dog in the rooms that you want to be off-limits, you’re sending mixed messages. Save the positive reinforcement for the areas you feel comfortable having your dog in.

“Having a pet is like having a baby – you have to pet-proof your home. When having dogs, it’s best if you would have a designated space for your pooch. Setting off-limits places for pets will ensure that none of your valuables and furniture get chewed off, scratched, slobbered or covered with fur. Training might take time, but it’s worth it!” says Victoria Hensley, an interior designer.

Instead of letting your hound run wild, create a special space for them where they can roam without you having to worry about the damage being done to your gorgeous, new home.

Create A Space For Your Dog

Giving your dog their own personal space isn’t just important for preserving the cleanliness of your home, it’s also crucial for your dog’s well-being.

“It’s important that each pet has their own space. This could mean a bed or crate that is only for them. The dog knows that bed is theirs and can retreat to it when they’re feeling stressed. In order for your dog to feel safe in this space, other family members need to leave the dog alone when they’ve decided to go there,” says Stephanie Mantilla, former zookeeper and current positive reinforcement-based animal trainer at Curiosity Trained.

Just as you need a space to yourself when life gets too trying, your dog also requires a place to escape to when feeling overwhelmed.

“A dog-friendly space will help curb many potential behavioral issues. Dogs can be stressed or anxious, like humans. In dogs, this can manifest itself into overgrooming, panting, whining, barking and inappropriate chewing of objects,” says Mantilla.

Creating a doggie den will help your dog relax and feel comfortable in your new home. And when your pooch has their own refuge, they’ll no longer have to take their anxiety out on your belongings.

Find The Proper Place For Your Dog’s Den

If you’ve decided to incorporate a special place in your home for your lovable companion, you need to spend some time considering where to put it. Since your dog’s den is meant to provide solace for your pup in times of stress, think about the environments that they tend to feel the most comfortable in.

“The ideal space is going to be where your dog can play, bark/make some noise, sleep and eat. You may even want to have your dog or cat near an entrance/exit that has a doggy door in it. If your outside space is well-fenced and safe, keeping your pet near the door allows freedom to come and go,” says Theriault.

The more room that your dog has to be themselves, the happier they’ll be. While the entrance of your home may be the most convenient place for your dog’s personal space, you may not have enough room in that area to make it cozy enough to comfort your dog properly. When searching for another area, remember your dog may be your best friend, but you’re undoubtedly theirs.

“Dogs are members of your pack (family), so they prefer not to be too far from where you are. Making your dog-friendly space in the part of the house you spend the most time is a good solution. That way your dog will be where the family is hanging out and be involved,” says Mantilla.

Setting aside an enclave in your living room will ensure that your dog is close enough to engage with you and feel encouraged by your presence. However, you don’t want your dog to overtake your living space, so you might think about housing them behind the couch. That way, your dog has space to be independent without being far from the action. Conversely, you could choose to design your common area around your dog’s presence.

“If you're in the designing stage, consider buying furniture that doubles as a dog-friendly area. For example, it's possible to purchase furniture (i.e., coffee-table or end tables) that do double-duty as dog ‘crates’ or beds. This is especially useful for small homes, condos or apartments. You can maintain your sense of style while still providing for your dog,” says Theriault.

But if the purpose is to make your dog feel comfortable in your new home, sometimes it’s better to let your dog take the lead.

“The ideal place to create a dog-friendly space is best found by letting the dog elect the area on their own. When the dog enters our home, it is best to just watch and observe where they choose to go to lay down on the floor,” says Dr. Joe Alcorn, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Care Animal Hospital in California.

As much as we like to think that we can communicate with our dogs, we don’t always know what exactly they want or need. By allowing your dog to choose their own place in your home, you’ll ensure that the space actually makes them feel tranquil.

Make Your Dog’s Den A Place Of Comfort

Once you’ve located a place for your doggie den, it’s time to start thinking about what you need to put in it to make it an oasis for your dog. The point of the den is to minimize any behavioral upsets that occur when your dog is stressed, so consider what objects are soothing to your dog.

“Dogs are den animals, so they feel secure in a soft covered nook,” says Mantilla. To create a soft nook for your dog, begin by choosing a cozy bed. If your dog’s bed is plush, it’ll provide your dog with physical reassurance when you’re not around.

Dogs tend to be most destructive when their owners leave the house. Left to their own devices, anxious dogs tend to wreak havoc on their owners’ belongings. If you’re worried that your pup is a bundle of nerves, you may want to invest in an anti-anxiety dog bed or blanket wrap. These beds and blankets envelop dogs to help them feel safe and secure when tensions are high.

Designate a spot for toys near your dog’s bed. Be sure to keep all of the toys in one crate or bin. Even though your pup won’t put them back when they’re done playing, having a toy bin for your dog will help you ensure that chew toys don’t begin to overwhelm your home.

Having entertainment options in your doggie den will help keep your pooch occupied when you leave for work, so you don’t have to worry about coming home to chewed shoes or clawed pillows.

Moving is a stressful process for people, but it’s even more distressing for dogs. Having to grow accustomed to new surroundings can cause your dog to act out more than usual. To keep your dog calm and your house in good order, dog-proof your home now. As you do, make sure your design choices create a cozy environment not just for your pup but for you as well.

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Rachel Burris

Rachel Burris is a writer covering topics of interest to present and future homeowners, as well as industry insiders. Prior to joining Rocket Companies, she worked as an English teacher for the New York City Department of Education and a licensed real estate agent for Brown Harris Stevens. She holds a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Bucknell University, a postbaccalaureate certificate in psychology from Columbia University and a master's degree in English education from Teachers College, Columbia University.