Pet-Friendly Homes

Smart ways to make your home a safe pet-friendly haven.

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    Home Sweet Home for Your Pet

    Crazy about your dog or cat? You're not alone. Motherboard Moms are so fond of their pets that they described them in a recent poll as "their best friend." But, as with any bestie, your dog's or cat's habits, belongings, and "decor" can be headaches to live with. Here are simple ways to keep your home lovely—and you, Fido, and Felix happy.

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    Sleep Smart

    Dogs love a plump place to sleep. That place, according to a recent poll of Motherboard Moms, is in their bed. But it's better for your animal (and for showing who's boss), if your dog has its own bed, says Todd Langston, a dog behavior expert and owner of Pack Life K-9 Behavior Solutions in Orlando. The best dog bed is filled with cedar chips and has a washable cover, he says: "They smell good and repel fleas."

  • 3 of 22

    Create a Pet Den

    Dogs also do very well in crates or cozy closed-in spaces. The way you feel in your den is the way your dog feels in his crate: safe and relaxed. Push the crate under a table in a kitchen nook or in the basement—or build a little pet hideaway—and it won't fight with your decor.

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    Keep Toys in a Basket

    Many pets will chew on anything they find around (your favorite shoes, that cashmere throw), especially when they're young. The solution: Don't leave anything around that you don't want chewed. And distract your pet with his own chewy toys. You can keep the toys tidy and handy like Boulder writer Brenda Reynolds does: she keeps her labrador's toys in a laundry basket. But you can upgrade to a decorative basket. Your dog won't care.

  • 5 of 22

    Move the Glass Menagerie

    One swipe of Fido's tail over a low table, and your collection is shards only. Protect your valuables (and your pet) by keeping collectibles and breakables out of the way or in rooms where your pet doesn't go.

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    Nix the Bleach

    Your pets will absorb—through their paws—whatever you use to clean your floors. Opt for vinegar-and-water rinses. And keep all cleaners up high where Mr. Nosykins can't lick the bottles.

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    Spring for a Doggie/Cat Door

    Spend the money on a nice-looking airtight one, and you'll save you and your pet a lot of trouble.

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    Skip the Carpet

    Even if your dog is Ms. Perfect Toileting, the rug will collect hair, critters, and bacteria, says Lori Gilder, an architectural interior designer in Los Angeles. Pick easy-to-clean tile, vinyl, stone, or hardwoods instead. Keep the pooch's nails trimmed to cut down on floor scratches.

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    Pet Food Storage

    Keep dinner and snacks handy but out of sight with a rollaway drawer.

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    Shred-Proof Your Furniture

    Unless you like fringed walls and slipcovers, get a cat scratching post. Initially, set it near your favorite perch: that's where cats want to scratch. Discourage clawing on furniture by covering the spot with aluminum foil or tape until her habit's shifted to the post. And skip the grass-cloth wallpaper: it beckons for a scratch, says designer DeAnna Radaj, owner of Bante Design in Milwaukee.

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    Set Up a Hosing Station

    For those days that your pup decides on a dirt massage, a mud room with a sink and built-in hosing center is the answer.

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    Pick Satin Paint

    Drooling or a shake after rain will stain walls painted with flat paint, says designer Gilder. A nice satin paint will wipe up more easily.

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    Slip-Proof Area Rugs

    We've all seen the movie: the dog slides with the rug, the birthday cake's ruined. Get an area grip rug, or anchor rugs with heavy furniture, suggests designer Radaj. And get colors that match your pet: his hair will blend in.

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    Ready for Walkies!

    Your dog's leash, raincoat—whatever accoutrements Lassie needs to take a stroll—will be right where you need them (along with your keys) with these handy hooks.

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    Seal Pet Grub

    Store dry pet food in an airtight container. It keeps the bugs out and freshness in. Look for one on wheels or consider a built-in pet food storage area.

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    Feed Smart

    After you've tripped over the dog food bowls a few times, you'll realize the wisdom of a built-in feeding system. Many cabinetmakers now offer the option.

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    Frisk Your Houseplants

    Many plants, including aloe, ivies, and amaryllis, can be toxic to dogs and cats. For a complete list, check with the ASPCA, If you are a plant-lover, set your greenery on sturdy bases so a hearty dog-cat chase won't knock them over.

  • 18 of 22

    Cut the Cords

    Avoid drapes and blinds with long cords and tassels that pets can wrap up in. And make sure that all wires and electrical cords are firmly attached to the wall, not dangling free where they might look like a fun attraction.

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    Secure Your Food

    Clear countertops of food and keep cabinets closed. If food's out, some snout will find it. And some foods—garlic, chocolate, splintery chicken bones, sugar-free gum with xylitol—are dangerous for dogs and cats. For a complete list, see

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    No Sky-Diving

    Despite their alleged multiple lives, cats can use up all nine with one fall from a window. Secure screens and bars.

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    Do a Danger Check

    It's tempting for both cats and dogs to take a sip out of the toilet, but it's not savory stuff, especially with sanitizer in it. Kittens and puppies also love to take a nap in fresh, fluffed towels. But they may not survive a heated spin.

  • Next Slideshow Pet Smarts: 8 Reasons Having a Dog or Cat Is Good for Your Health

    Pet Smarts: 8 Reasons Having a Dog or Cat Is Good for Your Health

    They can make you happy, keep you fit, even lower your blood pressure. Find out why owning a dog or a cat is a prescription for good health.
    Begin Slideshow »

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