Several years ago my wife and I welcomed a new member into the family. Boston, a hyperactive, rambunctious boxer, continues to keep all of us on our toes. The UPS guy rings the doorbell, and I’m off desperately trying to catch him before the kids open the door. He’s not mean. He just has a big bark. And like the three kids, when guests enter the house, he worriedly paces around until the newcomer acknowledges his presence.
And when his presence is acknowledged…beware. The sheer joy of knowing you care enough to say hello may prompt an unexpected 70lb hug.
Yes, as with all animal lovers, Boston has found a special place in our family. He patiently lies down while the three year-old climbs all over him. He jumps like a kangaroo outside our half-glass door when he is ready to come back inside. And occasionally (for no reason at all), he’ll start running laps around the outside of the house as fast as he can.
Still it didn’t take long for my wife and me to realize some adjustments would have to be made if our home was going to accommodate the “Boss” dog. Having owned a relatively mild-mannered miniature Shnauzer previously, we made the amateur mistake of letting Boston have free reign of the house early on. Are you getting flashbacks of the movie Marley and Me? I am. After coming home a couple of times to trash scattered all over the house, I knew something would have to be done.
So Boston went to obedience school to learn how to at least partially contain himself. Meanwhile, we set out to make some adjustments around the house ourselves. Now, with his own room (a built in kennel), cabinet, and eating area, our home truly is Boston’s as well. It took a little work on the front end, but it was well worth it!
When you’re building a new home, it’s important to remember the four-legged family members. Imagine if your kids didn’t have a designated place to sleep, or your family had no dining table to eat at. It would make living around the house a little chaotic. When you’re designing your new home around a pet, keep these things in mind.
- Place. When Boston came back from obedience school, one of the most important commands he was taught is “Place”. Basically, when he is told to “place”, he knows to go to his designated space in whichever room we are in and get comfortable. Here’s some ideas for making space for your indoor pet:
- Build a room under the staircase. This is one of my personal favorites, and it’s what I have done in my personal house. When the bottom of staircases are closed in instead of left open, you can lose as much as 20 sq.ft. of area (more than enough for a classy, hidden kennel.
- Incorporate a space into cabinetry. Pinterest, Houzz, and other social apps are loaded with these ideas. Everyone needs more room for storage anyways. Add some cabinets in the house with a lengthy countertop overhang and have a custom kennel built under the extra counter space.
- Food. One of the coolest features I saw a client incorporate into their new home was a custom eating area for their Newfoundland dog. We had the trim carpenter build an elevated food and water platform that flowed seamlessly with the rest of the trim package and accommodated the “doggy dishes”.
- Storage. Every living thing comes with “stuff” and stuff needs a place to go. Cabinetry is the most practical route to take here. Food storage, leash storage, shampoo, etc. Hangers may also be something to keep in mind. Just remember if you have small children, some items (especially medicines) may need to be placed high or secured.
- Bathing. Visiting the local dog wash facility may be the most practical option here, but it’s not always convenient. Then there’s the whole water hose on the front porch method, but there again, that doesn’t work out great when it’s 30 degrees outside. One client of ours had a great idea for their Labradors. They had us plumb an extra hot and cold water line and drain into their laundry/mudroom. We installed a bath pan, built a knee wall, and placed FRP around the walls for water protection. The end result…a nice comfortable, easy to access bathing area for the pooches. No more wrestling with 80lb balls of energy and soaking the whole bathroom!
Whether you’re the proud owner of a French Mastiff or a goldfish, your pets need a little home within the home as well. Don’t forget about them during the design process. And if you’re ready to design and build your new home, don’t forget to contact Gustafson Properties, LLC!