..........Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com.........

Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Incorporating Your Pets Into Your Home

How important are your dogs to you? Are they a possession that you just feed and water everyday? Or are they a part of your family? My five little ones are part of my family. We made a commitment when we got them and our household makes accommodations to include our dogs. When we were house hunting, I had my dogs in mind just like I had myself and my husband in mind. Would the house in question provide not only what Stan and I wanted but what our dogs needed too? Was there a place for them and was the yard right for them?

In our situation I have 5 little dogs (3 Italian Greyhounds and 2 Miniature Pinschers). They need very little grooming as they have very little fur (one reason why I chose these breeds). On the other hand, one of my sisters rescues Pomeranians which need a lot of grooming. She spends hours washing, brushing, clipping. I wasn't interested in grooming. I had Cocker Spaniels when I was younger and had to take them to be groomed every 2 weeks for years. So I decided my next breed will have short fur. But Elaine actually likes grooming. It's relaxing to her and the hands on with each dog is her bonding time with them. It's like her hobby.

When you are looking for a dog(s) you want to take it seriously. Don't make a snap decision or an impulse buy. Don't adopt or buy just because it's cute and fuzzy. They are a big responsibility and commitment. Search your heart and be realistic when you come up with criteria for which breed would be best in your family. Then do some research to see if the breed's characteristics are really what you thought they would be. You can't imagine every scenario but you want to be as prepared as possible.

For instance, is potty training the most important thing to you? Most toy breeds are hard to potty train. I just gave up and the boys wear diapers (yes, I change diapers) and the boys and girls try to use pee pads but they aren't 100%. We accommodated this by having no carpets or rugs in our home. So when we were house hunting we knew the end result had to be a house without any carpet. So we looked for a home in a price range that left us enough money that we could afford to replace all the carpets in the house with ceramic tile and hard wood floors.

Do you have a very active life, doing a lot of sports? I am so NOT that kind of person having very sedentary interests. But there are a lot of people who like to jog, play ball, swim, go camping, etc. Then you need to consider a dog that has stamina, endurance, loves the outdoors. This would exclude the toy breeds who were generally bred to be sedentary companions, lap dogs if you will. But there are sporting dogs and working dogs that were bred to go all day long. I would be a terrible mom for a sporting dog because the dog would be bored to death.

Maybe you have children and the children are very active and want to have a dog to participate in their play. Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, etc. are usually very good with children. They need exercise and are very devoted to their people. Or maybe you need a dog for protection. There are breeds that are great for protection. They look mean and, if aroused, they can do the job. Doberman's, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Boxers, Mastiffs, Giant Schnauzers. Or maybe you live on the water and a water dog makes sense in your lifestyle.

Other things to consider are whether or not you can afford to feed a big or small dog? Can you afford vet bills? Can you afford grooming or do you like grooming? This helps you determine size and fur type. You may have always loved an Old English Sheepdog but the reality is that they have LOTS of fur and keeping them groomed is a major job. If you can't afford to have them groomed and don't want to do it yourself, then don't get an Old English Sheepdog.

But once you have a dog, you have to think about how to fold your animals into your life and this includes into your household. When you are building or buying a new home, be sure to take into consideration your pets. If you have cats, you may want your house to have a dedicated cat room because cats like to have a secure hideaway that is all their own. If you have outside dogs, then you want to have a place for their kennels and a play area. It's not enough to corral your dogs in a far corner as far from the house as possible. We now know that dogs need protection from the weather and that they need socialization (time with their people). It's not enough to corral them and feed and water them once a day. If this is all the commitment you have to give, then get a concrete dog sculpture and don't put a living, breathing dog through this. Pets need to be safe, socialized, provided for, cared for, exercised. And they are well worth the investment.

I have found some photos doing a Google search that may give you some ideas.

This is a nice kennel but keep in mind that wood and water don't go well together. You have to hose out a kennel on a daily basis so you want it to last. But I do like that the dogs in this kennel are very protected from the weather (heat, snow, rain, ice). This kennel is on concrete, has doors that adults can enter in order to reach the dogs for treatment and to be able to clean. It also has dog doors into outdoor runs. It also looks like they have a frenced play area so the dogs can get out and get some exercise.

This is a very nice kennel and one that I always wanted back when I had Cocker Spaniels. There is a building on one end that is probably for storing dog food, a grooming room and a place for the dogs if the outside gets too hot or cold. The actual kennel is well fenced on concrete. Some dogs are diggers and can dig out if the kennel just sits on top of dirt. It's got a covering to shade the dog and protect them from the weather with a dog house for curling up. Notice the area where the dogs will live has no wood, it's concrete and metal. That's practical. I had a good kennel for my Cockers but I didn't have that building on the end like that and I always wanted one. Now my dogs are indoor dogs so I don't need an outdoor kennel. This also has a fenced in play yard with benches for you to sit while the dogs play.

This is a very nice kennel made with concrete and metal, again, very practical. There is a wall on one end which ensures the dogs have a place to get away from wind driven rain and provides shade even when the sun is low. The kennels are a nice size too. There is a stretch out area on dirt. I'm not a fan of dirt because dirt becomes mud when wet, I would rather see shavings or pea gravel. But notice the concrete footings around the stretch out area. They can't dig out. Hopefully these dogs do get out for a run every day the weather permits because the stretch out area isn't big enough for exercise.


Here is the inside of a building dedicated to large dogs. Easy-to-get-to kennels with plenty of room, concrete floors for easy cleaning, a drain trench in the middle of the floor and the floors slope to it. I'm sure the dogs have doggy doors to outside runs. Notice there is a heater by the door (in the South, you will need an air conditioner too) and ceiling fans. If you have a lot of dogs, something like this is not out of the question. There is one thing I want to point out... there is no visual barrier between the kennels. From my work at animal shelters, they like to have barriers because some dogs don't get along with other dogs and they can intimidate, scare and panic the dogs in the next door kennels. So this kennel must have dogs that know each other, play together and are socialized to each other.

Although this is a beautiful kennel and it's on concrete, it is all wood and it doesn't look like it's even treated wood. But take this same plan and make it with concrete block and it would be a nice kennel. Make sure that the half wall doesn't go all the way around because then you can't hose out the kennel.

This kennel is barely big enough for that large white dog in the picture but I assume it's mainly the sleeping and resting quarters for the dog and, for this dog, it's a good one. I like the idea of using bales of straw for making a wind break and a snuggle area. The kennel itself is on concrete. The play area is fenced in. Some dogs can really jump, climb or dig their way out. This is a real problem and needs some imagination to keep the dog safely in. This is another very important consideration.

This may not seem like a good kennel at first glance but it really isn't a kennel. Notice the doggy door in the side of the house? This is really just a safe bathroom area for the dog. The dog stays inside the house and uses the doggy door to go in and out for potty. That was a good idea.

This nice kennel is again wood. Even the flooring is wood. Pee can drain under the kennel which may or may not be good. Will it stink? Poo and vomit will have to be washed out and it will send yucky liquid between the decking underneath the kennel and cause smells. This would be good for a dog bedroom and then let them out for the day. This is really not the best situation for a dog to spend most of the day in but at least the dogs are protected from the weather.

Believe it or not I actually know people who have enough dogs to have a setup this extensive. Notice the floor is marble! There are walls (with practical ceramic tile) between each kennel in case you have dogs that don't get along. The kennels and fencing are big enough for an adult to get inside for cleaning and tending to the dogs. The fencing is very snug so dogs don't get snagged or cut as they try to get out. Each kennel looks like there is plenty of room. There are leashes which means these dogs are taken out for exercise.

I have a friend that has a metal building filled with her kennels and then has separate fenced in exercise yards. She's deeply into dog rescue. Notice though that there is grass growing inside the outdoor runs which means they are not on concrete. And the gates are small so an adult human would have to crawl inside to clean.

These kennels are properly fenced just not as snugly as the kennel above. They have made the most of their room by using stainless steel plates as visual barriers between kennels. The kennels and gates are big enough for adults to get in to tend to the dogs and clean. I keep mentioning this because I have worked in shelters where the kennels are only about waist high and for an adult human to get to the dog you had to literally crawl inside the kennel. The dog beds are hammocks. Which means the dogs are off the hard floor when they rest, but the beds can get wet when you hose out the kennels and it doesn't damage them. You can imagine if you put shavings, towels, blankets, pillow dog beds down, you can't hose out the daily mess without ruining them. The black strip just outside the kennels is a drainage trench with grate. The concrete is finished smooth and not rough. It's a metal building with good lighting.

This is so perfect for tiny dogs. Notice the doggy doors are tiny, the fence is only 4' tall. One side is the play area and the other are the outdoor runs. It's on concrete and the dogs have protection from the weather inside. This is just plain too cute. My only question is why are they separate from their family at all? But there are good answers. Maybe these people work all day and this is their way of taking care of the dogs while they aren't home to monitor them. As long as the dogs are dry, warm/cool, then this works. Or maybe they are responsible breeders and this is the kennels for their breeding area.

This is an excellent kennel as long as the dogs can go inside too. I love the fencing, its' very snug and strong. It's very incorporated to the house. Very nice!

This large and beautiful kennel looks like a nice barn. There is a large fenced play area with pea gravel (it's easy to scoop up poop on pea gravel and the gravel drains the pea away from dog paws). The kennels have stainless steel plates as visual barriers. They are completely protected from the weather, as are the caretakers, as they clean the kennels (notice the shed roof continues past the kennel itself to protect a walkway for the caretaker. This is just beautiful!

This is a drawing for an inexpensive but effective kennel. It's on concrete, the dog has overhead protection and the attached building is indoor protection (like a large dog house on one end). There is a door large enough for the caretaker to get inside to clean out and there is a gate big enough for the caretaker on the outside.

OK, we've looked at kennels. I tried to pick different kinds from the bare minimum to the deluxe! But there are other considerations. Will you need a grooming area for your pets? If so, here are some ideas I found by doing a Google search. Whether you make your grooming room in your garage, your basement, a separate building, a room in your house, here are some ideas for you!

Bending over a tub that rests on the floor is difficult on the old back so if you can raise your dog tub it will help you out in the long run. If you have small dogs, a deep laundry sink might suffice but otherwise you are going to need a tub or shower for washing your dog. You also need a secure place to tie your dog while you bathe them so they aren't constantly jumping out. Having hot and cold water makes it easier on the dog, especially during the winter. You can imagine taking an icy cold bath and how uncomfortable that would be for you. You will need some shelving to hold your supplies readily at hand. It's only natural for a dog to shake the water out of it's coat. There's nothing you can do about it so protect your walls. They have ceramic tile around the tub which was a good idea. Also keep in mind that large dogs are too heavy for you to be lifting and they can't jump up so you will need some stairs or a ramp to get them up to the tub.

Here is a nice grooming room for small dogs. You can buy the grooming tables from pet supply catalogues or online. If you have large dogs, again you will need a way to get the dog on the table. You can purchase tables that work much like your hair dresser's chair. With hydraulics they go down and then can pump up. Notice the stacked crates on the right. Once you've washed a dog, you can put them in a crate and set a blow dryer on them while you work on the next one. If you don't do that, a dog will tend to run around and rub itself all over the floor in it's effort to dry. If you wash your dog outside, and then let the dog loose he will probably rub his face on the ground, roll on the ground and pull it's belly on the ground. The dog will end up dirtier than it was before you started. Using a clean and contained space will prohibit that until they have had time to dry.

Notice the stainless steel tub with ramp. This may be more expensive than you can afford but it's a great idea! This looks like a basement room.

Another basement grooming room. This is a large heavy plastic tub. You can see the grooming table that can be pumped up. There is a shop vac for getting up dog fur and has good lighting.

Maybe you prefer a doggie shower! This is a nice one. It means bending over but you might like this better. Having a sprayer is absolutely necessary. I noticed there is no ring for you to tie your dog... add a ring!

I like the doggy faces in the ceramic tile!

Hey, here is your Italian ceramic tile tub/shower. But I guess you have to take a bath with them because otherwise you will be leaning over that wall, almost on top of your head.

This is the best shower. It's up waist high and has steps for the dog to climb to reach the shower.

I'm sure this is a professional groomer but I wanted to show you the tubs, the ramps, the shelving. I'm wondering what those black hoses are. Central vacuuming for vacuuming dog hair away? Blowers for drying? This is a nice setup.

This is an entire room within the house that is dedicated to grooming. This person has made the room practical but nice too. I like the dog paws on the walls! There is a comfy chair for breaks and a TV. It's clean and has all you need.

Another room in the house with an en suite bath used for grooming small dogs. Again, it's practical, clean, functioning but decorated pleasantly too.

A shower for the medium sized dog. Notice the glass shower door?

A spectacular dog grooming room in a garage or a detached garage.

Is this not a wonderful dog grooming room?!? Beautiful cabinetry, ceramic tile backsplash, ceramic tile floor, Wow!

Literally carving out a grooming room. Built like a booth. What a great idea.

My final words... if your pets are important to you then consider them in your living arrangements. When you build or buy a home, consider their needs and what would make life easier for you and them. What will work for you. I realize that there are situations where people can no longer keep their dogs. They no longer have the option. I pray this never happens to me and that I never have to live without a dog. Unless I was in those very extreme circumstances, I would never consider moving into a place that didn't accommodate my dogs.

I'm no cat expert, not really a cat person. But people love their cats like I love my dogs. I found some great ideas for cats.

A cat courtyard!

Notice the cat tunnel or cat bridge from the house to the outdoor area. The cat is totally protected from house to it's outside room. You will see more of these cat bridges or cat tunnels.

Using a space the size of a closet for your cats. This is their space.

I love this room!

Cat walks. Very well incorporated into the design of the house so it doesn't look like add on cat walks.

This is a cat bridge from the porch to the window.

Built in cat tunnel.

Another outdoor cat enclosure with a protected cat bridge or cat tunnel from the house.

Larger outdoor cat enclosure with cat tunnel or cat bridge.

I'm sure this cat bridge goes to a nice outdoor cat enclosure. Very well done!

Fencing the backyard for your cats. Notice the top of the fence.

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