Dog Friendly Decor: How to Dog Proof your Home Decor
At home, we have the two best doggies you could ever hope for, Penny and Pickles. They are the reason Sean and I met (at the dog park!) and very quickly became the best of friends – they can barely spend ten minutes apart from each other without getting upset. We love our pets as part of the family, and we wouldn’t trade them for the world – but they definitely play a big part in decor decisions around the house, as it means we are always looking for dog friendly decor solutions.
They’re great dogs – but we (lovingly) refer to them as wild beasts quite often. They play in the house all the time which means they knock things over, spill drinks and all sorts of other problems. Penny (who, as a Potcake, is supposed to have a stomach of steel) gets sick very easily and will throw up if she gets too hungry, which makes for some gross messes. We have two cats too, who scratch on furniture from time to time and steal full bags of treats at a time, only to get sick afterwards- not to mention all. The. hair. That comes with a long hair kitty like Chuck (and a part shepherd like Pickles).
Growing up, we always had cats – I honestly can’t remember a time I lived in a house without any pets, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They definitely play a big part in my life, and almost as big of a part in choosing home decor! Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what items can be dog friendly decor, and what ones I’d never, ever try (all white, wall to wall carpet – I’m looking at you) and today, I’m sharing it all with you!
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Finding dog friendly decor: Rugs
I searched high and low for the perfect rug for our living room, but so many are not dog proof! Light colours, no washing capabilities, or fibres that shed or get torn apart easily. I’ve purchased rugs before that only lasted a few months before threads were pulling throughout the entire rug from dog nails and cat claws. Here are my tips for searching for dog-friendly rugs:
Look for rugs with a lot of pattern, and minimal one-colour areas. I purchased this rug for the living room, and even after 2(!!!!!) ‘messes’ in nearly the same spot each time, you would never be able to tell where it was spot cleaned. It obviously helped to clean up the mess immediately, but the multi-coloured pattern helps to hide any spills or stains. Of course, how you clean up the stain will impact the end result too – but that is a whole different topic.
Material matters. My living room rug is made of 100% polypropylene and I have had no problems with any pulling or tears. Of course, the quality (and price) of the rug will play a factor in the material standing up to dogs- a $16 rug is just not going to hold up the same as a $150 (or more) rug will. You will buy about $200 worth of $16 rugs in the same time you’d not even wear out the $150 rug… it’s worth the investment.
I try to avoid natural fibers like jute or braided rugs, as they have higher chances of tearing under dog nails if they catch or start pulling the material out of place, and will just make a mess of the rug. I tend to go for low pile rugs, and any rug that is marked as Indoor/Outdoor rug is a good option too – they’re just not as cozy on your feet.
Choose your colour wisely. I wouldn’t dream of getting an all white rug, because I would just spend too much time worrying about it to enjoy it. While the one I got did end up having more white than I expected to choose, colour can go a long way in hiding stains. And you don’t have to stick to dark colours! Mine is a bright ivory, navy, aqua and yellow! It lightens up the room while still being a dog-friendly rug.
They frequently hang out on the rug!
Bonus: Choose a comfy fabric your dog(s) will love to sleep on. Within a minute of putting my rug down, Penny had made herself at home and laid right down on it because it’s so soft. They love the rug, especially in the winter time when the floors tend to be a little cooler.
Finding Dog Friendly Decor: Sofas
This one was hard. I looked at what seemed like thousands of different couches before settling on the IKEA Kivik with the Hilliard Beige Slipcover. Couches are a BIG part of living rooms and it’s definitely most important to get one that is comfortable, but having one that looks nice helps too – it makes for dog friendly decor that is beautiful, too!
Slipcovers. They make a WORLD of difference when you have a dog. Muddy paw prints, spilled drinks, and any gross liquid that may come out of a dog at any time can be easily washed off with slipcovers. Honestly, even just spot cleaning works pretty well and in almost six months with our new couches, we have yet to need to wash the covers (but I really should anyways…). I would not have gotten a light coloured couch if it weren’t for the slip covers, but it makes me worry a lot less about then when I know I can take off the cover and throw it in the wash. If you have a dog that sheds, make sure you test the fabric first to see if it dog hair will cling to it. It should be a strong, durable fabric to stand up against hair and nails.
We are clearly not a ‘no dogs on the couch’ household 😉 Slipcovers make it easy!
If you have a couch (or armchair) you really love that isn’t slipcovered, pick up some Scotch Furniture Guard and spray it on to make it easier to clean up any messes. I did this on my armchair that has been dubbed ‘The Pickle Chair’ because she is always in it, and there have been ZERO issues!
This chair has been sprayed for protection AND I keep a throw blanket on it for extra safety.
Choose a couch that is low to the floor. The 100% non-negotiable necessity when I was searching for a new couch was that I wanted one that was as close to the ground as possible. The main reason I wanted a low sitting couch was because Penny is the worst for losing her toys and chews under the couch, and then sitting there barking until someone gets it out for her. Even if you dog doesn’t bark when they lose their toys, it still helps to keep all toys (and remote controls, cell phones, or anything else) from getting lost forever under the couch.
We have medium sized dogs so they can jump up on the couch without any problems, but low to the ground couches can be easier for small dogs to get up on (if you allow your dogs on the furniture). We don’t keep dog beds around because Penny loves to chew them to pieces when she gets bored, so our dogs are almost always up on the couch with us.
Bonus: Choose a couch that has removable cushions, so you can rotate them around and avoid getting dog or cat shaped lumps in certain cushions. We definitely noticed a few indents pretty quickly in spots where the cats preferred to hang out, so we try to stop Pickles from making extra ones too since her indents are so much bigger!
Chuck’s favourite spot on the couch.
Finding dog friendly decor: General tips
Don’t buy expensive, breakable decor and leave it where the dog can reach it. We have a ton of flower vases around the house, but I keep the wooden or plastic ones on tables or window sills that the dogs can reach, and my nice ceramic or glass ones up where they won’t get knocked over. The same goes for family heirlooms or any little tchotkes that you don’t want to get broken or chewed on. Or maybe you have better behaved pets than I do, who don’t chase each other around and wrestle in the house and you don’t worry about them knocking things over, but better safe than sorry!
Keep faux plants around instead of live plants. There are SO MANY houseplants that are toxic to dogs and cats, and keeping some in the house is not a risk I’m willing to take. Pair that with dogs digging in the dirt of plants or knocking them over and sending the dirt flying – I just feel more comfortable keeping faux flowers around the house. When I do want a bit of real greenery around, I put them in rooms that are off-limits to the dogs, or keep them high up out of reach.
I can’t keep plants alive to save my life, so I don’t mind the faux greenery- but if your thumb is green instead of black, make sure you check out this list of pet-friendly house plants.
Always have a throw blanket on hand. I always have a few cheap IKEA throws around that cost $2.99 each (I buy a few each time I go) for the dogs to lay on without having to worry about them ruining it. If it gets dirty, you can throw it in the wash, or even just toss it out if it gets too bad. We place the blankets on the couch if they have a toy or chew that leaves residue to keep it from getting on the couch, or to prevent muddy paws from getting on the couch in the spring.
Throw blankets may protect the couches from the dogs, but it doesn’t protect the cats! They are still learning to love each other three years later.
Another part that you need to keep in mind is that with dogs, your house will not always look perfect. Cushions will be all over the place (especially if you have a dog like Pickles, who likes to throw them off the couch so she can sleep on them on the floor…), dog toys are everywhere and sometimes, it’s better to just cuddle up with them on the couch than spend your time cleaning up the mess. My home will never be perfect, but these dog friendly decor tips sure help get it a little bit closer.
If you have dogs, what are your go-to dog friendly decor tips? Share your cat tips, too!
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Hey there! I'm Meredith, a twenty-something home decor, DIY and lifestyle blogger & creator who dreams of living in the sunny south. You can almost always find me with a coffee in my hand, a dog at my side, and a donut in my mouth.