Planning opportunities include storage, maintenance and rest. Compared to a typical house cat, dogs – especially large breeds – have considerable more space requirements. If you love the look of contemporary, minimalist architecture, to achieve this the dog owner must ensure that everything has a place. This includes not only food and water dishes, leashes, mitts, and towels, but also designated areas for sleeping and cleaning. Solutions to these requirements vary from integrated millwork to designated rooms.
The easiest, most pragmatic solution is the mudroom. Mudrooms can be large, spacious areas that incorporate clothing storage, laundry and gardening functions. These spaces are often indespensible in cold climates; they accomodate boots, jackets and mitts – many of the same things your dog might have – and ensure slush and mud are contained. If tight on space, the same principles can be integrated into hallways or other small locations with the clever use of storage pieces. Determining your needs – and prioritizing them – can help determine what functions are eventually integrated into your mudroom space.
At a minimum, the mudroom should contain storage space for each family member – including the dog. For the dog, this space can hold leashes, towels, food and many other items. Alternatively, this can be integrated into a deacon's bench near an entrance or into standard cabinetry. If not contained directly within the mudroom, this dog-designated entrance to the home should have easy access to a sink or bathing area. Owners of dogs that enjoy swimming or other pursuits (such as rolling in dead things) understand this importance. A near-by bathroom with a standard bathtub that sits 14” to 16” above the floor is usually sufficient. However, a designated dog-wash area can be designed into a new home or existing space.
To fit a small space there are several options. A custom bath enclosure created from a tile-ready, manufactured shower pan can provide flexibility of placement. Ensure the lip of the shower pan is at least 6” high to provide water containment. Consider raising the enclosure at least 12” off of the ground to reduce bending and back stresses. This should be balanced, however, with your ability to pick up your dog. Install a wall-mounted shower wand with 60” of hose on one wall. Finish the enclosure with non-slip tiles on the floor, and up the walls at least 48” to capture water from the dog shaking dry. Alternatively, a non-standard, small-size drop-in bath tub such as one from Sunrise Specialty or a drop-in sink such as Kohler's Oceanview are manufactured products that can provide the same function. If the dog really loves the mud, a specialized dog wash basin from a manufacturer such as New Breed Dog Baths may be more appropriate.
For sleeping, blankets thrown on the floor work well, but a designated space or bed where your dog can seek respite from the family keeps both the dog happy and the house looking tidy. If your dog is crate trained, consider using an enclosure that is integrated into cabinetry or incorporated into furniture.
These simple considerations for storing your pet's needs, keeping him clean and ensuring his rest may seem trivial, but they will help harmonize your home by keeping it organized and tidy. If considered at the beginning of a design or renovation, your dog's requirements will not stand out from the rest of your home. However, if implemented as an after-thought, your house could end up going to the dogs.