Plain and simple, Americans love their pets. In a recent survey, millennials listed their pet as the third reason for buying a single-family home, even before kids or marriage. There are numerous studies listing the health benefits of pet ownership for folks 55+. And of course, having a pet is an integral part of raising a family. Bottom line, the number of households that have pets in America is staggering. According to the National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of households have at least one pet, with dogs being the most prevalent (naturally followed by cats).
Even more staggering is the number of households where pet care, or should I say pet space, is an afterthought. It’s not how the homeowners care for their four-legged friends, but the homes themselves! Allow me to explain…
Raise your hand if you’ve ever tripped over the dog’s bowl of food or water! I have. My niece used to crate her dog when she went to work and it was a large crate. Where the heck do you put such a crate? Do you buy one that matches to décor of your living room? What about the stinky cat pan? Where does that go?
It’s time that our homes respond to how we really live today. It’s not just about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in our house, but how our houses can make our lives easier every step of the way.
When it comes to pets, we can use all the help we can get. Thankfully, there’s good news! Since most pets are smaller than humans, a significantly smaller space than a bedroom is sufficient. Move over Harry Potter, because my favorite location for a “pet palace” is the space under the stairs which may currently serve as a closet. Here you can hide the dogs crate – or better yet, replace the crate with a finished room if your furry friend is trustworthy enough to not be crated. How cool is this barn door concept pictured below…
The laundry room is another logical location for a pet palace, if planned out carefully. This means you will need more than the standard 6′ by 6′ room. If you have a larger room that includes ample base cabinets, one cabinet can be omitted for the dog’s food, bed or cat pan. What if you have both a dog and a cat living together? (According to Ghost Busters – that’s mass hysteria). Now you must keep the dog from eating the cat’s food (and litter). Fortunately, since cats can leap, we can place the cat’s food on top of the counter totally out of reach from the dog (that is unless you own a really big dog).
As for the pet bed, our dog will have almost nothing to do with it. Oh sure, she’ll start out the evening in her bed, but once we fall asleep she finds a vacant bed upstairs to sleep in. What? She’s also been known to curl up on the couch when we’re not at home, leaving her hair behind as evidence. Who trained this dog anyway? However, many pets, given the right location in the home, do enjoy curling up in their own bed (at least for awhile), so try to identify and designate a good spot for it.
If you plan to build a home soon or add an addition to your current home, consider a dog bath station. This is a particularly nice option for homeowners with dogs that are constantly getting into mischief that necessitates a bath.
Our pets are our surrogate children. What wouldn’t we do for them?
Adapted from Housing Design Matters Blog