In the last several decades, pet ownership in the United States has grown exponentially. In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), there are now almost 90 million dogs owned by families in the U.S. For many of us, these four-legged friends are family — so it comes as no surprise when clients ask us to incorporate dog-friendly ideas into their home design.
While we love our furry friends, we do not love the mud or debris they sometimes track through the house. One creative solution is to incorporate a pet “station” near their primary entryway. We typically design these within a transition space, such as a mudroom or designated area off the garage, where a muddy dog can be cleaned up before entering the main part of the house. The design can be as simple as a space with a small sink, bench, and storage hooks. Or, it can be designed as a comprehensive animal mudroom, complete with a tiled dog shower, radiant heat, and drawers for supplies and toys.
Inside the home’s main living areas, there are also dog-friendly design solutions to consider. One practical feature worth pursuing is a convenient feeding zone within the kitchen. A low, pullout drawer is a great option because it eliminates the chance of tripping over food bowls when cooking or navigating the kitchen. Once a pet’s meal is finished, the feeding drawer can be closed, and the bowls hidden away (just be sure there is water available in another area). A convenient alternative is creating a feeding nook built within the end of a kitchen island. Like the drawer, this option keeps bowls out of the way, while seamlessly integrating the feeding space into the kitchen design.
Sometimes pets have the run of the house, but there are occasions when it is helpful to keep them within a given room or area. Designing a tasteful divider, such as a pocket gate that retracts into the wall, is a wonderful solution for creating these barriers. These dividers, often made with mesh or vertical baluster, are similar to baby gates but are user-friendly and decidedly more convenient. Another consideration is deciding where your pet will go to relax. Animal experts recommend that owners provide a safe, comfortable space for their dogs to retreat or sleep. With this in mind, we often design a little den or hideaway—perhaps in the space under a stairwell—for our clients’ dogs to call their own.
Lastly, a trending discussion we’re having with homeowners is the electronic pet door. There was a time when people worried that a “doggie door” could provide home access to unwanted creatures. But, with today’s smart technology, these doors are controlled electronically from a pet’s collar and will only unlock and open when the collared animal approaches. Additionally, owners can program the hours when the door will operate so they know exactly when their pet is venturing out.
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With the boom in pet ownership, we will continue to incorporate creative, dog-friendly concepts into our home designs. We treasure our four-legged friends, and being mindful of their needs, along with our own, ensures a peaceful environment for all.