You’re getting a dog! Yay! You and your significant other have probably already talked about things like what to name your newest family member, and whether or not Fido should have a social media presence. (“Should Fido be an internet celebrity, or is it best to respect Fido’s right to privacy?”)
Then there are the less fun but very important discussions — especially if you’re getting a puppy — about how and when to train Rover, what kind of disciplinarians you intend to be, and what kind of day care arrangements you plan to make if you both work outside the home.
But there are plenty of other ways in which the presence of Fluffy is going to impact your home — and your relationship. Before your furry bundle of joy (and disruption!) comes home with you, here are a few logistics you and your partner should address to make the transition from a household of two to a family of three.
Anyone who’s ever shared a home with roommates or a significant other knows how those little things, like hair left in the drain or spare change scattered across every surface, can drive you nuts and lead to big arguments. And now you’re going to introduce a battery of new items into your living space! Here are a few of the things you and your doggie co-parent will want to make room for.
Where will Fifi lay her head at night? Will she sleep in a bed or a crate? Will she sleep in your bed? That is a big thing you guys gotta talk about — just be aware that your feelings may change over time, so you should also be willing to be flexible.
- Storage for food
Bags of dog food are big and bulky, so be sure to make some room for storing them. And also be sure to discuss where Spot’s water and food bowls are going so you can properly protect the floor underneath — especially if you’re a renter. Don’t get dinged when it comes time to get your security deposit back because you put the water bowl directly on hardwood floors and have major warping issues as a result.
- Hooks for leashes and mess bags
Is it going to drive you nuts to have to hunt down the leash when it comes time for Pepper’s morning constitutional? Install a few hooks right by the door where you can hang the leashes post-walk.
Don’t assume that you and your partner are on the same page about being cool with doggie toys strewn about the house! This, like the bed question, may be one of those things that you’ll take a wait-and-see attitude about, rather than establishing hard and fast rules before Ginger takes up residence.
Having a dog means there will be more chores that need to get done, and unlike scrubbing a tub, you can’t just push off Roxy’s morning walk until tomorrow. The division of household duties is a huge trigger for fights in a relationship, so don’t shirk a discussion of who’s doing what when it comes to taking care of your dog’s needs.
But you know that already, right?! Right. And you’ve likely already talked about how you’re going to handle walking Bailey because that’s a pretty obvious thing that you know you need to talk about. But which of you is going to be responsible for feeding Duke? And how about washing those food and water bowls? Vacuuming? Oh yes, be prepared for vacuuming — and lint rolling, and rubber glove-ing, and furminating, and then more vacuuming!
If one of you is going to assume primary responsibility for Lola’s care and feeding, make sure the burden of those chores is offset by the secondary keeper taking on more of, say, the laundry. Or the cooking. Or the bill paying. Because it would be a huge bummer if something that should bring you so much joy becomes a constant source of bickering and resentment.
Let’s level here: even in the cleanest and most orderly homes, pet messes happen. Whether it’s a soggy doggie or a sick doggie, there are going to be times that call for triage. Here are some items that are likely to come in handy.
- A basket of towels and pet wipes at the entryway for drying off after wet and/or muddy walks
- A bin, or multiple bins for larger homes, for stashing toys
- Wood-protecting mat for food & water bowls
- Nature’s Miracle or other enzymatic stain removal product for accidents
- Wet/dry or shop vac for removing vomit, diarrhea and urine from carpeting and upholstery, including in the car
- Skunk odor remover — tomato juice works, sure, but then you have to clean up all that tomato juice!
Unless you get one of those lovely unshedding pups, you’re going to be cleaning up hair. And more hair. And then even more hair. Here are a few tips to help preserve your sanity!
- I cannot encourage you enough to invest in a handheld vacuum, especially one designed for pet hair, which are generally inexpensive and lightweight — grabbing for them on the regular won’t feel like as much of a burden as hauling the big vacuum out from its storage space. And actually, if I can, I’d like to convince you to get more than one handheld vacuum so you can stash one in each of the most heavily trafficked rooms in your home.
- Lint rollers are brilliant because they don’t take up a lot of space and can be stashed in end table drawers or remote control caddies for easy access.
- Love gloves — those gloves with the nubbly rubber grips on the palm — can be used to remove fur from carpets and upholstery, in addition to being a super grooming tool for Roxie.
- Squeegees! And rubber dishwashing gloves! I know this sounds a little out there, but rubber-edged squeegees and plain old rubber utility gloves are great tools when it comes to grabbing pet hair off furniture, sheets, rugs and your clothing.
- If you have a lot of hardwood or tile flooring, dry mops, which have a removable head that can easily be laundered, are great for quickly picking up stray fur before it can clump up and turn into drifting furbleweeds.
Don’t forget to stash a bottle of enzymatic cleaner and some spare towels, plastic bags, and pet wipes in your car! Also, that wet-dry vac is going to be crucial when Skippy experiences his first bout of carsickness. A wire basket or milk crate in the trunk of the car is a great way to store cleaning products, as well as a travel water bowl and some extra kibble.
Life with a dog — just like life with another human around — will create a few extra messes and a bit of extra work. But with a little planning and knowledge, keeping up with Sparky won’t be too much trouble at all.
Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and the author of My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha.
Get more Till Dust Do Us Part:
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- 10 Ways to Save a Scorched Pot
- Gettin’ Busy On The Furniture: A Stain Removal Guide
- No One Looks Forward to Doing Dishes, But You Can Make It Less Horrible
- Hair, There, Everywhere! Part Two: Drains
- Hair, There, Everywhere! Part One: Floors
- How to Divide Chores So You Don’t Kill Each Other