K9 Coach – In the Dog House

GILLIAN RIDGEWAY

Well, it’s a given.  Whether you are moving into a new home, or staying put, the home-decorating craze seems to have no end in sight. Every winter it seems we all add a home project.  Home renovations are the way that the country is spending its time, and money and it has become increasingly evident that many homes are going to the dogs…literally!

Dogs have secured their spot as family members, and many dog lovers are taking the necessary precautions to make their dwelling “pooch friendly”. To create a dog-friendly zone, take a look at what will make life easier for you and Sparky. When decorating, how about a dog toy box?  This can simply be a box or basket that all dog toys are tossed into when tidying up in the evening.  A child’s toy chest, painted with dog paws and bones make a fun addition to any family room.  Your dog’s toys can then be rotated, with just a few being left out at any given time.  While we are on the topic of decorating, ceramic dog bowls can now be found in many colors and design choices.

Dog beds have also come leaps and bounds and while we know that your dog would be happy to lay his head down on any bed, it can be a lot of fun to choose a dog bed to match the color of the room.  Some of the dog beds are large enough to be a piece of furniture, so why not have them match?  It can be a whole lot of fun seeking out a leopard print dog bed to match your favorite throw rug.

You might even want to consider some renovations, simply for your 4-legged buddy.  If you install a doggie door, make sure it is one that can be used only by your own dog.  The last thing you want is a surprise visit from the neighborhood raccoon.  Setting up a mudroom to accommodate your dog is a luxury that would be high on my list.  In this area you can house the entire dog supplies needed for the transition from outside to indoors.  Leashes, collars, dog bags and training tools, such as your clicker and treats, plus a towel for those many feet wipes can all be kept in one easily accessed area.

How about a dog friendly backyard? A supply of outside dog toys can be fun, but let’s go one step further.  Renovating your yard to make it fun for your dog can be a great project for the whole family. Always make sure your play area is safe. You can designate one area of your yard into a dig pit for those dogs that can’t get enough of this activity.  Show them that although you would frown upon them for digging in the tomato plants next spring, digging in their own area is an acceptable choice.

It will be icy soon, so consider shoveling paths, or a maze, in your yard. Your dog will have a ton of fun racing through it and it will provide more mental stimulation that just hanging out in the snow.

With all this fun, your dog may soon be inviting his friends over.

 

K9 COACH GILLIAN RIDGEWAY

is the Director of Who’s Walking Who Dog Training Centres in Toronto and Ajax, Ontario.  She has been featured on many radio and television programs and penned  a monthly column in Dogs in Canada Magazine for nine years.  Gillian is also a guest lecturer at the University of Toronto, using dogs to shed light on learning theory to psychology students.  She shares her home with two dogs, and is involved in dog sports and canine performance teams.

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