Dog on a bed

Pet Organizing Tips: Love your pets without living like an animal

by Ben Kirst
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We love our pets. Consider these numbers from the American Pet Products Association:

  • There are over 83 million pet dogs and nearly 96 million pet cats in the United States.
  • Sixty-two percent of U.S. households included a pet in 2012, accounting for 164 million pets.
  • Over $50 billion was spent on pet products that same year.

That’s a lot of retractable dog leashes, industrial-sized bags of food, squeaky chew toys and pocket-sized laser pointers. That’s also a lot of potential for furry laundry, clawed woodwork, stained carpets and lawn “surprises.” We all want what’s best for these guys… catdogcute …but unless we are resigned to living in homes, wearing clothes, driving cars and relaxing in yards that smell like our pets, we need to take control of our surroundings. We can love Buster and Tiger and Bella and Mimi while keeping our living spaces clean and organized. It simply takes some planning.

Home organization tips for pet owners

A dog or cat — we’ll concentrate on our canine and feline friends in this post — has physical and emotional needs. When these needs aren’t met, we will have a mess on our hands (oftentimes quite literally). Let’s consider some creative ways we can make life fun and comfortable for our furry friends while keeping our living area in order. Give your pet a bed. It can be challenging to keep dogs and cats off the furniture, but the job gets easier when your pets have a place of their own. The ASPCA recommends putting pet beds in each room of your home or apartment. If you have limited space, this may be difficult. Instead, place the bed in the room where you spend the most time. This will allow your pet to be near you without sacrificing your couch cushions to paws and claws. Consider this an opportunity to add some character to the space — as the Mother Nature Network notes, “you don’t have to sacrifice style when you opt for eco-friendly comfort.” A little creativity and some sewing skills can turn old suitcases, sweaters, pillows and even boat sails into chill spots for your pets while doubling as conversation pieces. Cool pet beds

Clockwise from top left: Upcycled desk doubles as Four-post bed; boat sail over a pillow offers rugged comfort; thrift store sweaters are comfortable find for a canine; and old suitcases give cats the vertical space they enjoy.

Where to crate? If you choose to crate your dog, the Humane Society advises “(placing) the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room.” This may not be aesthetically pleasing, and you could be tempted to relegate your canine friend to the laundry room. Bad idea!  “Overcrating, traumatic or stimulating experiences while crated, improper introduction to the crate, and isolation or separation anxieties are the primary causes of crating disasters,” writes Pat Miller of The Whole Dog Journal. You can add some color to the crate and bring it more in line with the look of your room with a little fabric and — if you are not trained in the crafting arts — a friend who knows how to sew. Kim from the Enjoy The View blog has an inexpensive and relatively easy dog crate cover how-to: Dog crate instructions Avoid toy takeover. My cats’ veterinarian once told my wife and I that we should leave only a few pet toys out at a time and store the rest. This creates novelty for the cats and keeps our apartment from resembling a pet store. We’ll strategically leave a couple playthings in the living room and reading room, and store the rest of the toys in an open wicker basket in our bedroom. When the cats muster enough ingenuity to pull out their favorite stuffed mouse or bouncy ball, they can — and sometimes do. Jenny from the I Heart Organizing blog has a similar setup for her dogs. She writes:

We keep a small basket on each floor of our home filled with puppy play toys.  The baskets are kept at dog level, small enough for the dogs to use their paws and dump them out and see-through so the dogs have a visual reminder to chew on their toys {vs. my slippers}.  Now, if I could train them to pick up when they are done….

plush-toys-390641_1280 #PetFoodProbs: When it comes to table manners, dogs are not going to score high marks. They nose around their food, they spill, they slop, they lap — it’s not pretty. Cats are a little more refined, but are also quite capable of making a mess with their meals. Here are some feeding rules of thumb that will keep your living space from turning into a buffet:

  • Dogs and cats don’t want an audience while they eat! Keep your pet’s food in a quiet  but easily accessible corner of your home.
  • Avoid carpeted areas or (if possible) wooden floors. Cleaning wet food or even dry kibble out of carpet or the slats of a wood floor can be tedious. A water dish can also be a source of potential damage. Linoleum is your friend when it comes to pet feeding.
  • Remember that cats like to have their water dish separate from their food dish — preferably in another room.

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Cleaning up: Tips to keep your pet-friendly home clean

You can train your pets, reward your pets, scold your pets, even reason with your pets (note: this does not work) — but, from time to time, into every pet owner’s life, a mess will fall. These messes can arrive in the form of a bathroom-related accident; an upset stomach; overaggressive play; seasonal or regular shedding; and more. Here are some quick tips and tricks to make sure your living space is never labeled “stinky” by an all-too-honest friend or rela

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