With almost half of all households owing some kind of pet the UK really is a nation of pet lovers and dogs are still our most favourite choice. However, if you are thinking of getting your own four-legged friend to join your household you need to prepare your home.
It’s not just a case of nipping out and buying the first dog you come across – having a dog in your home is a big change and you need to make sure you are properly prepared for everything that entails, from daily walks to potential furniture damage.
Here are a few things to think about when you are preparing to create a dog-friendly home for your new canine companion.
1. Change your upholstery
If you are a lover of cushions and fabrics around your rooms then you might need to have a review of these before you bring a dog home – many fabrics work as magnets to fur while others are easily damaged.
If you have an abundance of soft pillows on your chairs, bed or sofa, such as velvet, chenille or corduroy these should be moved or the covers replaced as they will just get covered in pet fur very quickly.
Also, if you have any delicate fabrics like lace or silk, which sharp claws can catch in, then it’s probably time to put these away. Safer fabrics for a home with a dog include leather, synthetic fibres and printed tapestries.
2. Replace any chewable furniture
While your rattan or wicker furniture set might look great in the conservatory, if your dog is going to have access to that part of the house it will soon become his favourite chewing toy, particularly for a teething puppy.
Any furniture which has bare wooden areas including rattan and wicker, should be replaced – look for metal or chrome finish instead of wooden, and provide your dog with its own chew toys – that way your furniture will be safe.
3. Consider replacing or covering your flooring
Have a look at your flooring as it’s about to get a battering from claws running over it not to mention other unsightly issues while carrying out potty training, mud and all sorts of other dirt dragged in after walks out in the rain, so it needs to be easy to clean.
If you have expensive hardwood floors you might want to cover them as hardwood scratches easily and will also stain if your furry friend leaves wet patches on it which are not cleaned up immediately, so consider changing your flooring or at least protecting it with rugs.
The best flooring for a house with a dog is something easy to clean such as laminate flooring, or else stone tiles or ceramic tiles. These will also provide a nice cool surface for your dog to lie on during the hot summer days.
4. Do you have space for a play area?
We all know how much energy dogs have and how much they need to play but the last thing you want is your puppy or dog running riot throughout the house so if you are able, create a play area for your dog, where all its toys are housed.
This means your dog can play with balls or chew toys or tug of war with you in its own space and won’t be going crazy around the house while you are trying to get tasks done.
5. Think about your walls
If you have textured wall paper or textured plaster on the walls in your house you could very quickly end up with furry patches around the walls as the dog brushes past on a regular basis so the ideal would be to remove the texture. Smooth painted walls are the easiest to wipe and keep clean when there is a dog in the house.
6. Match the dog bed with your décor
You will need a dedicated place for your new pet to sleep in but that doesn’t mean it has to clash with your own particular interior décor style – opt for a modern sleek style bed by all means, as long as it provides a comfy and secure place for them to relax and sleep. By simply going online you can find a wide array dog bed to choose from, like these options from Time for Paws.
7. Do you have a mud break area?
The biggest change that having a dog in your house will create is the mud! You have to go for walks every day so when it’s rainy and muddy you and your dog are going to come home covered in grime and dirt – all of which has the potential to be dragged throughout your pristine house.
Make sure you have a mud break area – a section where you can bring the dog indoors but then give him a wash down and clean up before actually entering the main house – it could be a garage, utility room or porch but make sure you have one.
Then keep all the cleaning things you need within reach, along with doggy treats to encourage him to keep still while being washed.
8. Watch out for blinds and curtains
Dogs love to look out of the window either waiting for their owners to come back or just enjoying the sunshine when they can so check your blinds and curtains – make sure you leave them up and open during the day so that your dog doesn’t get frustrated and end up pulling them down.
9. Consider moving any breakables
Dogs are boisterous creatures and like to wag their tails a lot so check for any valuables or breakables which are within tail reach and move them – if you have a low table with ornaments on it or shelves, then it makes sense to move these to a higher level before your dog moves in, to avoid any upsetting accidents.
10. Make sure the dog has a quiet place to escape to
If you have the dog’s bed in a central space, then you need to make sure they also have a quiet place they can retreat to if it all gets too much. This is particularly applicable when you first bring a new dog home and if you have a very busy and noisy household.
Try to create a quiet and enclosed area within their play space so they can retreat and hide if they need to recharge or escape from the noise for a while. It’s better to provide this space and encourage them with treats, rather than leave them to run around and end up stuck under a bed or somewhere equally impractical.
11. Consider how sneaky your dog might be
We love dogs because of their curious and crazy personalities but that can get them into trouble so make sure there are no cables around which they could chew on, for example, and buy dustbins which close securely, to avoid coming downstairs to rubbish strewn around your house.
If you have a particularly clever dog he might well work out how to open cupboards, particularly if it’s the one where you keep his treats, so it might be worth investing in child locks on the lower kitchen cupboards.
Also, make sure you keep anything potentially harmful well out of a curious dog’s reach. Items which are harmful to dogs include:
12. Understand your dog
You should try to find out as much about your new dog as you can from the previous owners – you should find out for example, if it was allowed on the sofa or upstairs so that you will know what kind of behaviour to expect when the dog comes to your place.
You can create new boundaries in the new home but at least you can anticipate where there might be problems initially as the dog adjusts to a new routine and new instruction.
13. Does your dog have any mobility issues?
If your dog has any problems or is on the older side you need to make sure your house is set out so it’s as easy as possible for him to get around. If all of your floors are slippery they might find it hard to move around, for example, so think about bringing in a rug to help them get a solid foothold.
If your dog struggles on its feet then you might also need a ramp down to the garden and up to the front door, so it doesn’t have to try to negotiate steps up and down. For young dogs consider using a stairgate until they are used to going up and down stairs – it can also help keep them out of your bedroom.
Bringing a new dog into your home is an exciting time for the whole family so if you follow these steps to make sure your home is as welcoming and dog-friendly as possible before your four-legged friend joins you, it should be a happy and harmonious household for everyone.