7 Housekeeping Tips for New Dog Owners
You’ve got a dog – hurrah! But how is your home faring with its latest resident?
To make your home welcoming for your new pal, it may be best not to fight this. Instead, introduce some of these small touches to help you cohabit harmoniously.
However much we love our pups, it can be annoying to find patches of their hair all over the furniture. So, whether you opt for a dedicated pair of rubber gloves to sweep up stray hairs, a silicone brush designed for the purpose, or a specialist vacuum cleaner, you’ll probably need some technique for removing it from your soft furnishings.
The alternative is to train your dog never to sit on your sofas, cushions and armchairs. This is broadly possible, though not necessarily desirable. Dogs also learn quickly how to adapt their behaviour for when you’re in the room and when you’re not…
Draping favoured doggie sleeping spots with throws is another way to reduce dog hair accumulation on your furniture. Even if you have a pooch who doesn’t moult, throws can help to keep furnishings clean and protect them from drool, smells and scratches.
Choose durable, washable throws in soft textiles that your dog will be drawn to (if the bare sofa is softer, you’re fighting a losing battle). Also consider choosing a pattern or a plain colour that coordinates with your dog’s colour, though you’ll want to wash these throws frequently, whether or not they’re visually hairy (more on which below).
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There are various times in any dog’s life when he or she will have some sort of bodily mishap that may well wind up making a mess on one of your rugs. Are your floor coverings up to the challenge?
You may have a part of your home that’s a dog-free zone, in which case, go crazy in there with your woven silk or valuable antique kilim. If not, consider how you might clean up a variety of stains from your chosen floor surface and furnish accordingly.
A washable cotton rug is ideal and wool is extremely hardwearing and stain-resistant. Heavily textured or knotted floor coverings, such as coir or sisal, however, may prove impractical with a hound in the house.
A good foaming upholstery cleaner should deal with most mishaps, depending on your rug. There are various effective green alternatives, too, from shop-bought eco products to enzymatic cleaners or simply baking powder, to blot, or white vinegar, sometimes diluted with water, which will help to clean and also to neutralise bad smells. Specific advice will vary depending on the rug and type and age of stain. You’ll find plenty of advice online to help you tailor your approach.
Consider also investing in a specialist cleaning gadget – you can find hand-held versions with brush attachments that deliver hot water direct to stains. (Always check the rug’s care instructions before getting stuck in.)
While you may get the rug back to freshness and hygiene, some stains may linger. Perhaps it’s time to try a patterned rug…
In an ideal world, your dog will be out having carefully timetabled walkies every time there’s a call of nature. In reality, there are moments when they’ll probably go in your garden, if you have one.
Accept this and simply prepare for the inevitable by creating a small, discreet loo zone for them, ideally somewhere slightly tucked away from the main garden.
There are loads of videos online showing how best to set one up and how to train even older dogs to use one. Your flowers and lawn will thank you.
More: How to Make Your Small Urban Garden Dog-friendly.
Dog beds and rugs absorb lots of doggie ‘perfume’, especially when it’s the first place your pooch goes for a roll-around after a rainy walk. For a clean and fresh-smelling home, it’s a good idea to frequently give these items as hot a wash as possible to kill any bacteria.
The perhaps not immediately obvious “but” in doing this, is that your washing machine will subsequently require some attention – particularly if your four-legged friend sheds hair. If you don’t, this hair will appear on the next batch of washing you pull out.
Always wash doggie accessories in their own cycle and leave the door open afterwards to let the drum dry. Get a damp cloth or wad of kitchen roll and wipe inside the door seal. Then get your vacuum cleaner with its brush attachment and suck out all the stray hairs that will probably now be lurking in there – and don’t forget to delve into the door seal area.
You can also buy special wash bags that you can zip your doggie accessories into before chucking them into the machine. These should keep the hair contained and simply need a good shake outdoors, inside out, once dry. That said, it’s still good practice to follow the tips above, but the bags should reduce the need for this.
With machines that handle this type of washing, it’s also super-important to keep on top of your machine’s cleaning regime and do an empty hot wash with your choice of cleaner at least every couple of months.
This is a follow-on from the washing machine tips. You may be happy to share (clean) towels with your faithful friend – and everything, of course, is washable – but it can be helpful to have a collection of dog-only towels. The practical benefit is that these can easily be identified and washed separately to avoid clogging up your machine.
This idea will obviously not be feasible for many. However, if you’re renovating or adding a utility room, ask your designer or contractor to factor in your pup’s ablutions. As seen in this clever example from Papilio, a dedicated tap with a hose or a sink for small canines doesn’t need to take up lots of space and is a practical consideration for dog owners. Consider outdoor tap/drain arrangements, too, especially if you’re upgrading your garden, back or front.
If that sort of arrangement is out of the question, consider improving your entry point by creating a small cleaning station to help you deal with the aftermath of messy walks. Factor in the necessary equipment (think towels, water or dog-appropriate freshening spray, cleanable floor mats, somewhere to quickly put mud-caked leads or soggy, dripping dog coats in the winter…) and make the space to store it all nearby.
What are your tips for living harmoniously with a dog? Share your thoughts in the Comments.