These days I can’t exactly remember the details of the last time I was bringing a new dog home – but between puppies and dog sitting for friends, I do frequently have new dogs coming into my home all the time. When I’m welcoming a dog into my home, I’m always conscious of how at-ease they will feel inside. Whether they are just visiting, or moving in for good, dogs need to be able to feel at home inside, for many reasons.
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One of those reasons is that a comfortable dog is a less anxious dog – which means a dog that is less likely to show destructive behaviors. Another reason is that a dog that is comfortable also experiences less stress, which means they’ll be healthier overall. So, while you may not be the type of person who spends a ton of money on special things for your dog, keep in mind that you may be saving money in the long run on vet bills and destroyed furniture.
Whether you want to keep your dog off the bed and away from your heirlooms, or you’re just the kind of person who loves to make your dog feel at home, here are nine tips that make a dog feel comfortable in a space.
1. Give Your Dog Their Own Space
We’ve talked about this many times before on the blog. Dogs tend feel much more secure and comfortable when they know they have a “safe space” to retreat to – a space that is all their own. Giving your dog their own crate or kennel to use as a “dog cave” is an excellent way to make them feel like they are a valued member of the family. Many pups sleep in their crates as well, making it easy to keep them out of trouble at night.
The type of crate you need will depend entirely on your dog. Some dogs are perfectly content in an open-air crate. Another option for smaller dogs is a pet kennel, similar to what you might use to carry a small pet to the vet. As long as your pet has enough room to stand and turn around, they can be perfectly comfortable having a snooze in any type of crate or kennel.
It’s not the most glamorous thing on the list, but safety gates for your pet are an excellent investment for any household. Even if your dog is very well trained, there are many reasons why you may need a gate. Consider a packed house for the holidays, letting an unfamiliar repairman inside, or keeping a sick pet in one comfortable area to contain messes. In this situation and many more, pet gates can be a real help.
The kind of gate you need will depend on your space and your pet. For small dogs and areas, something simple like the Evenflo Position and Lock Wood Gate works great. Stronger or taller dogs may need something a little more sturdy, or you may find a fully enclosed fabric screen gate enough to keep your pet where they need to be.
Another option for safety and containment is an exercise pen, such as this one from Midwest. This is perfect if you don’t have the space for a gate, or wish to keep your dog in a space that is smaller than one room.
Don’t forget to check your house for many of the common safety concerns when it comes to pets. Some houseplants, for example, can be poisonous to pets (as well as small children). Watch for low-hanging cords that a curious puppy may take a bite of, TVs that could fall if a table is bumped, and other similar hazards. Things like straps to hold a TV in place, cord organizers, and plant hangers can help you puppy-proof your home and make it safer for everyone.
2. Let Your Dog Choose In or Out
If there’s anything that makes my dog happy, it’s the ability to go in and out as she pleases. A dog door is a perfect wayto really make your home perfect for your pet. Dog doors that you can install yourself are easy to find and easy to put in. Just be sure to get the right size for your dog’s adult size – if you have a puppy who will grow up large, don’t get a small door! You may also wish to look for a dog door that is energy efficient and weather proof, to ensure that your house stays comfortable for everyone.
3. Make the Home Easy for Your Dog
Making your home accessible to the outdoors is only part of making the space easy for a dog to use. Many smaller breeds and older dogs have a hard time jumping up on couches or beds where they are allowed to curl up. To make their home more accessible for them, dog stairs are a great tool. These typically slide under the bed or tuck into a corner for easy storage and can be pulled out whenever your pal needs a step up.
If I were shopping for dog stairs, I would go for a wooden set like this one. There are other types of steps as well, such as plastic folding stairs, carpeted stair sets, and more. You can also find pet ramps for dogs that are either too tiny or very arthritic and can’t use the stairs. These are typically telescoping, making them easy to store.
4. Protect Your Furniture
A dog bed is almost a must-have for any dog lover. Keeping fur off the couch is a lot easier if your dog has their own special place to sleep. Pet beds come in a wide range of styles, types, and sizes. Have an older dog with arthritis? Some pet beds are made with orthopedic memory foam to help prevent soreness and more degeneration.
Does your pup enjoy being up on the sofa or your bed? You can get them their very own elevated bed to help them transition off the furniture. These come in all sizes and work great for keeping your dog clean and dry if they go camping with you, as well. My dog personally loves these dog-sized cots, and I get a kick out of watching her jump up and settle into her bed. If your dog isn’t a fan of getting into a fluffy bed or jumping onto something, thin bed liners can also be found that help cushion against a hard floor. These also offer your dog a sense of having their own space that they can claim at bedtime.
5. Get Fancy
Ready to spoil your pet big time? There are many styles and types of pet sofas and chairs that you can add to your living space. While you hang out on your couch, your pet can relax on their very own seat. While many of these look very similar to a dog bed, quite a few are also designed to make a stylish addition to your room.
Larger dogs might like to hang out on a couch like the Beasley’s from Pets Alley, something I’ve had my eye on for my own dog. It looks more like a couch, with a lower profile than most pet beds. If you have a small dog, you may want to check into a pet dome, which reminds me of a baby bassinet. Small dogs love these for the cozy comfort. These may seem extravagant at first, but keep in mind that if your dog has their own sofa, it means less wear and tear on yours (and less dog hair to clean up)!
6. Their Own House
Is there anything more iconic than a cute little dog house for a pet owner? Just like a crate or a kennel, a dog house offers your pet a place to call their own, with the added benefit of being weather proof for the outdoors. If your dog spends a lot of time outside like mine, giving them a shady spot to relax is always a great way to pamper them.
There are doghouses made of sturdy-yet-lightweight resin, such as this one from Suncast that would be perfect for renters or anyone who needs to be able to move their doghouse. However, it is also straightforward to build your own doghouse with the help of some free plans and a free weekend. Dog houses are an excellent idea for dogs who spend large parts of the day outside while their owner is away, because it gives them a place where they feel safe and secure.
7. Protect Your Property
Even the most well-behaved pets are still animals, and their understanding of our language only goes so far. No one will have a good time if you are constantly getting on to your pet for chewing up shoes, nosing open lower cabinets, or making messes that ruin your belongings. So, one great thing to do for both yourself and your pets is to pet-proof your home.
Check out products made for infants and toddlers to get well-made items that are easy to install and usually very affordable. For example, these Safety 1st magnetic cabinet locks are perfect for intelligent breeds who are a little too curious for their own good. You may also want to consider an adhesive toilet locking strap (see “Why Do Dogs Drink From the Toilet?” to learn more about this baffling habit.)
8. Give Their Stuff Space
When you live in a house, one way that you know it as your home is the fact that all your belongings are there. For your dog, that could mean their crate, their food bowl, or their favorite spot on the couch. But for many, it also means all their toys! To keep yourself from tripping over dog toys, and to give them a sense of space in the home, consider grabbing a basket for all the dog toys laying around.
Many dogs can even be trained to “clean up” by taking their toys back to the basket. This also helps dogs who become anxious at being left, or during thunderstorms. They can quickly go to the basket, retrieve something to chew on, and avoid destroying any of your things.
For your own sanity, you may also wish to dedicate space by the front door for collars, harnesses, leashes, doggie bags, and other necessities. A few hooks on the wall or a basket on the table would do the trick. This makes it much easier for you to grab what you need when the walk just has to happen.
9. Add Cozy Touches
While not all dogs love being bundled up, many enjoy all the same comfortable additions to their space that you and I do. Things like pet blankets, liners for beds, and even pet pillows are all available, and all make your friend even more comfortable in their home.
This is a fun way to make a pet bed or pet chair part of your décor as well. Blankets come in handy for tossing over things to keep fur contained, and bed liners are perfect for keeping your pet’s bed fresh and clean. Throw the liner in the wash, and the bed itself never gets dirty. And don’t forget some extra cool accessories like this cooling gel mat that stays cold without a fridge, perfect for keeping your dog cool indoors.
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The Final Word
These are just nine of my favorite ways to make my home a pet-friendly paradise for Janice and Leroy. Many of these are easy to work into your life without much effort at all, and a few also play double duty in helping to keep you organized. Add in how happy these tips will make your pup, and it’s easy to see why so many dog lovers are willing to do a little extra pampering from time to time.