Home, Pet Home
Few things in life are as irritating to homeowners as a ripe litterbox within smelling distance of family and visitors alike, dog hair peppered across your living room furniture, or a furry companion that keeps infiltrating rooms that you want to be off limits. All the more reason to consider creating a designated pet privacy area where your dog or cat can feel more at home and you can feel more in control of mess and maintenance issues.
Kris Potrafka and his wife Claudia are true believers in giving pets their own private space. The Austin, Texas couple designed a separate room in their newly built home just for their dog, and now they’re reaping the benefits.
“We felt it was important that Macha, our Weimaraner, have her own private area where she can go to absorb the training commands she just learned, shut down and feel safe,” Potrafka says. “This private space has given her confidence, and we rarely deal with separation issues that are common with this breed.”
The Potrafkas chose their mudroom as their de facto doggy zone due to its easy access to the backyard and convenient location for cleaning their pets before they re-enter the rest of their home. It’s designed to fit two large dog crates stored beneath custom-fitted countertops, food and water bowls, an oversized food storage pantry, large wash basin, sturdy wall hooks for leashes and outdoor gear and open shelving for grab-and-go items like toys and waste bags.
“We never use this room as a place of punishment. Instead, it’s where we provide treats and comfort,” Potrafka adds. “Now, we can simply tell our dog, ‘Go to your space!’ and she will go to this room and lie down.”
Suzanne Finch, meanwhile, created a “catio” for her three cats by building a screened enclosure off her back patio, amenable via a pet door.
“My catio is where I keep their litter boxes, which eliminates the odor problem and makes for easier cleanup,” Finch says. “It’s a place that allows them to get fresh air on warm or stuffy days and to see the outside world better from the safety of an enclosed porch.”
Kelly Meister-Yetter, pet columnist and author of “Sorry Honey, But the Critters Come First” (CreateSpace, 2016), says it’s smart to set aside a go-to area for your pet.
“There are times when stressful things are happening in your home – holiday entertaining, noisy children, etcetera. Having a quiet spot to retreat to will decrease this stress for you and your pet,” Meister-Yetter says.
An ideal zone for this animal sanctuary is often a room that’s relatively quiet or an outdoor catio, as long as a pet’s preferences are met, says Cynthia Chomos, designer/founder of Catio Spaces in Seattle.
“For example, placing a cat tree near a sunny window in an out-of-the-way room or creating a lounging shelf within a catio can provide the perfect place for a catnap or watching outdoor life,” Chomos adds.
If you lack real estate for Rover, think about repurposing a large crate or trunk.
“If you cut a hole at either end of it, it makes a great hiding space for smaller animals, or a great place to tuck a litter box,” Meister-Yetter says.
Investing in a dog bed or cat bed is also recommended.
“If you want them to use your chosen space, you want them to be comfortable doing so. It’s important to offer them an acceptable alternative to lie on if you don’t want them on your furniture,” Meister-Yetter says.
If you lack the practical space and means to keep food and water bowls near your pet’s new defined resting place, keep these receptacles in the kitchen.
“The best place for a pet’s food and water is in the kitchen, located away from the traffic flow to avoid upsetting their mealtime and digestion,” Chomos says.
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