Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tips for living with dogs

Dogs need to live in the home with us, not out in the yard (this is essential for their socialization, manners, and ability to bond and integrate with the humans in their household). I've come across a great book review of a book that provides some wonderful tips for living elegantly with dogs in the house.

See the entire review here.

While we're on the subject, I'll share some of my own tips:
  1. Teach "go to your spot" (or mat) and have mats in a few places that are discreet and unobstrusive, to help your dogs be with you but not underfoot.  For example, one of the mats our dogs are trained to go to is under the kitchen table.  When we're in the kitchen, "go to your mat" moves them under the table where they can watch the cooking action, but stay out of harm's way (hmmm, did I just imply that my cooking is harmful?)
  2. Washable dog beds.  Never buy a dog bed that doesn't have a zip-off, washable cover.  Wash them often-- it prevents dog smell.
  3. Slipcovered furniture.  If you allow your dogs on the furniture with you (and we do), it's great to be able to wash those slipcovers.  Consider not allowing dogs on furniture that isn't slipcovered, or require them to lay on a blanket (which is starting to look... unelegant).  It's OK to have rules about which furniture a dog is allowed to lay on-- they are totally capable of learning this.  You just have to be there to control their access, and be consistent about the rules.
  4. Change your furnace filters religiously.  Dogs in the house usually mean shedding, and this will get into your furnace intake filter-- so be more conscientious than most people about changing it.
  5. I'm a huge advocate of crating.  I think dogs should sleep in the bedroom with you, and if they still need to sleep in a crate, incorportate it into the bedroom as a side table to the bed or something-- put a table top on top of the crate, for example.  You can also raise the crate onto a small platform to make it the right height for your room. 
  6. Discreet tethers in the baseboards to keep your dog in place in "company" rooms like the living room.  This allows your dog to hang out with you all without being a pest and mugging your guests.  I really dislike being mauled (even in a friendly way) by dogs when I am visiting someone's home.  For a deeper discussion of tethering dogs indoors, click here
  7. The best tip for living elegantly with your dogs is to continually train and tune up your dogs' manners.  There is no substitute for a well mannered dog.  Even a large dog brings peace and calm to a small space if that dog is well mannered.
We live with three dogs in our house, ranging in size from a giant breed (Borzoi) to medium sized (a small Lab and an oversized Sheltie).  We love every minute of it. What tips do you have for living elegantly with dogs?  Share them with us in the comment section please!

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