DIY Do's And Don'ts

Pet-Friendly Living


pet friendly homeYou want to start off on the right paw when creating a pet-friendly home.

In "It's a Dog's World: the Savvy Guide to Four-Legged Living," author Wendy Diamond (with help of her Maltese pup, Lucky) offers a guide to living fabulously with your pet. And there are also tips for dog and owner co-habitation.

Sharing a space with a human, much less a pet, is never drama-free, but with a little guidance and dogged diligence, Diamond maintains that there's room for both dog and owner to live in harmony.


1. Upholster your home with pet-friendly fabrics

Choose smooth fabrics that are highly durable, like synthetics, so they are easy to clean. (Note: The cleaner your home, the cleaner your pet. The cleaner your pet, the cleaner your home.) Diamond says go for tightly woven fabrics such as twills, denims, sateens and poplins, which are resistant to scratches and tears. "Microfiber, micro-suede, and ultra-suede fabrics are a dog-owner's best friend. They're stain-, soil-, water- and odor-resistant, but still look like fabulous designer goods." Diamond likes artist and Weimaraner photographer William Wegman's line of pillows and beds made from Crypton fabric.


2. Choose dark colors and patterns

It's either the dog or the white couch -- you can't keep both well-groomed. Washable throws for couches give a bit more flexibility, as do slipcovers. Stick with darker shades, textures and patterns to distract the eye from permanent doggie messes. Pets like to mark their territory and they seem to love to do it where you'd least like them to. "Patterns can hide dog hairs more easily than a solid color," says Diamond. "Consider a racy stripe, a nubby tweed or a paisley print. Each of these designs will make dog hair practically invisible. (Style note: These prints might not leave your home looking terribly stylish. We suggest distressed leather as the patina-look gets better with use. Textured solids work well.)


3. Keep pet-hair-removal accoutrements nearby

If you've got a pet that sheds, keep a drawer of rollers and sprays that help eliminate pet hair on any surface. Another tip that Diamond suggests is to throw an antistatic sheet in the dryer with the hair-covered fabrics. "They'll come out smooth as the day they were manufactured," swears Diamond. The iRobot Roomba 562 Pet Series Robot Vacuum is a Lucky and Diamond favorite. The iRobot is designed to tackle pet hair, pet food and any other messes your pet might cause.


4. Create pet-friendly flooring

Hard surfaces are much easier to clean and are way more durable than carpeting, where dog hairs and dog odors like to hang out. However, a rug chosen with your pet in mind is a must. Pick a carpet that is both attractive and comfy for your pet. This will most likely be the La-Z-Boy equivalent for him or her. For overall flooring, though, focus on wood, tile and laminate. But beware: "Wood is the most vulnerable to damage," says Diamond. "Try to choose a hardwood that would be resistant to scratching from dog nails. Adding a water-based finish can be pricey, but will probably pay for itself in the end." While laminate flooring is "virtually indestructible" says Diamond, it can also be very slippery for puppy paws. "If your dog is skittish or older, this is probably not the right choice for your home."


5. Familiarize yourself with pet-friendly cleaning products

Floor cleaning products are especially challenging for pets. It's best to keep them away until your floors are completely dry. "The pads on your dogs' feet can be very sensitive to chemicals," says Diamond. "If they get itchy then your dog will lick the chemical residue off -- which can result in a one very sick dog." A side note in the book comes from Lucky, who details how to keep a hypoallergenic dog-home. He suggests lots of vacuuming and also installing a strong air filtration/circulation system.


6. Transform windows into pet-safe views to the outside world

Make sure that the view outside is a safe view. Chances are good that your pet is going to be very curious about keeping tabs on what goes on outside. "Avoid letting blinds, drapes and anything with tassels or long cords hang freely from the windows," says Diamond. "Your dog will see them as play toys and he could get tangled, choked or hurt in the cords." One obvious but necessary reminder is to keep a strong screen on open windows. Or if you have a rambunctious pet, "keep the windows closed enough to prevent a flying leap to freedom," says Diamond. She suggests upgrading all windows with pet-proof window screens: "They're affordable, very tough and available in most hardware stores." Retractable screens with a hydraulic clutch -- and either Velcro or a magnetic strip on both sides -- are popular options for screens that stay in place when confronted with pets not enthused by the barrier.


7. Don't poison your pet with your plants

There are many plants that can be harmful to pets curious about the taste of those beautiful leaves and petals, and pets who can't keep their paws out of the soil. Do your diligence and visit the ASPCA online for a list of poisonous plants before planning your garden. Note that the most dangerous plants include daffodils, tulips, foxglove and poinsettias. Keep your pets away from any chemicals used to fertilize, or to control weeds and insects, for at least 24 hours, says Diamond. The best bet, however, is to choose products labeled "pet safe" or "veterinarian certified."


8. Keep your home from smelling like a zoo

Diamond says that most high-quality pet stain and odor neutralizers remove odors from home accidents, but for those lingering odors in carpets and furniture, she suggests renting a carpet cleaner from a local hardware store. "If you get a strong enough machine it will even pull some of those ancient hairs out from the depths of the carpet fibers," says Diamond.


9. Still enjoy and keep separate your human life

Once Diamond had hid all poisonous items from paw-reach of Lucky and her feline brother, Pasha, Diamond focused on herself. She built an eating area that was high enough so that Lucky and Pasha couldn't steal Diamond's food.

Interested in more home improvement tips? AOL Real Estate has other great guides that might help:
 

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