Any pet owner knows, as much as you claim you have control of your life, your home, and what’s happening around you—you really don’t. The truth is, our furry friend(s) rule everything around us. And while this is a blessing (because we honestly can’t imagine your life without your pets, right?!) sometimes it can be a little frustrating when we have to tweak and shift our lives to accommodate these barking, drooling, needy, and adorable creatures.
Nevertheless, when you bring a dog—or really, any animal—into your space, everything changes. Whether you’ve been a pet owner for years or are just starting to shack up with your pup, here are five home design tips based on your dog’s personality and temperament.
Before you even bring your pup home, do a dog personality test. Observe your dog in his/her natural habitat and see how he/she interacts with other people, animals, and objects in the space.
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For Easygoing Dogs, Embrace the Flexibility
If your dog is pretty laid back, chances are, he fits the “Easygoing” category and you can shift your home design around that. Having an “Easygoing” pup means less stress when it comes to planning and designing your space. Your animal will typically feel comfortable in most situations and will ‘go with the flow’ when it comes to your schedules, routines, and rules.
What will help dogs with this temperament is knowing where their sleeping area is. Because this type of dog is generally relaxed and laid back, he will prefer having a space in your house to lay but won’t be married to it. If you’re someone who likes to occasionally move around the furniture, change the décor, or have guests over, this dog personality type is a great fit.
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For Playful Dogs – Minimize & Create Open Spaces
Sometimes dog breed personality can play a role in how you categorize your pet. For example, Labradors are one of the most playful dog breeds, so naturally, if this is your dog’s breed, you can expect her to be silly, friendly, and always ready to play tug-of-war or fetch with you.
Playful dogs are great, but they can definitely impact your home design, especially when it comes to refined furniture or fancy décor. It’s best to avoid couches and other furniture items that can potentially get knocked over, shed on, or accidentally scratched during some roughhousing.
It's also generally a good idea to leave lots of open spaces, especially in living or dining rooms so that your pup can move about freely.
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For Adventurous Dogs – Downgrade the Décor & Create Play Areas
If the dog personality traits that fit your pup are explorative, curious, and/or often entertained by the littlest things, she probably fits the “Adventurous” category. This category can go in two directions—Adventurous with a sense of wildness or Adventurous but cautious. Depending on which side of the spectrum your dog falls depends on how careful you should be with your home design.
Adventurous dogs are great. They will be the first to investigate new items you bring into the space, they will alert you if anything seems off, and they will be quick to warm up to people and items and make them their own (more on the latter in a second). These reasons are why it’s best to purchase lower-end items because sometimes the curiosity can get the best of your dog and he may want to *mark* everything in sight to claim it as his own.
It may also be advantageous to create a ‘dog-friendly’ room or area that this adventurous pup can play in—perhaps a playroom, laundry room for feeding, or even an outdoor area. That way your dog can explore all he wants without the added stress of something getting broken or peed on.
If your dog loves being outside, Nicole Ellis, a certified professional dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert with Rover, advises creating an outdoor 'doggy wash' area. "A designated wash area will keep the muddy paws contained until your next adventure," she says.
You could also consider installing an indoor window or another “lookout” structure at doggy eye level. Dr. Stacy Choczynski Johnson, DVM, the pet expert at Pumpkin Pet Insurance, encourages adding anything from a porthole or bay window to a full, floor-to-ceiling windowpane. This way, your curious pup can get a lay of the land, even when inside.
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For Rambunctious Dogs – Establish Clear Boundaries & Dog-Friendly Spaces
If your dog personality test results showed clear traits of wildness, excitement, and/or intensity, your dog is probably the “Rambunctious” kind… but, as *ruff* as this category may sound, it’s not actually that bad. Rambunctious dogs are simply more energetic than most and can add some much-needed flare to your otherwise calm (and maybe even boring) home life and design.
When it comes to Rambunctious dogs, though, it’s important to create clear boundaries around your space. Designating areas for play, sleep, feeding, and other daily routines can help your dog know what to expect and when, and can also keep you from daily headaches.
Something else to consider, as Phillip Ash, the founder of Pro Paint Corner shares, is adding a doggy door to encourage self-direction and mobility.
"Active dogs and dogs with small bladders may benefit from the installation of a doggy door," he says, "This way, they can go outside as they please."
If possible, carve out an area of your home that’s dedicated to dog play/exercise—outdoor area, garage, basement, etc. This can help to get some of the energy out (but productively).Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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5. For Defiant Dogs – Offer Stability & Structure in Your Design
So you have a Defiant dog…good luck! Just kidding. Although these types of dogs are labeled as ‘bad dogs,’ they are actually often misunderstood. Sometimes dogs with obstinate or resistant personalities come from broken homes, have been through multiple adoptive/foster centers, or have just struggled to adjust to the transitions in their lives.
That’s why it’s important, when it comes to home design, to offer stability and structure.
Once you establish a place for this type of dog to sleep or eat, try not to change it. Disruptions to the norm can be big obstacles for Defiant dogs and can make them feel out of control or even scared.
It’s a good idea to avoid wooden furniture to eliminate issues of scratching or chewing. Dr. Georgina Ushi DVM, Urgent/Critical Care vet and writer at WeLoveDoodles, shares that instead of wooden furniture, pet owners should opt for something with a metal finish to discourage chewing, and sub velvet materials for leather or synthetic fabrics to avoid the accumulation of hair or drool. She also advises pet owners to purchase dog-inspired matching furniture rather than having items in your space that your pup can't actually enjoy.
Another tip for Defiant Dogs is to create clear boundaries and establish them as soon as possible (especially if there are areas of your house that are off-limits). You may want to close doors or put up baby gates at first to deter your Defiant doggy from going to places he/she shouldn’t.
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For Lazy Dogs – Embrace the Comfort & Coziness
Pet lovers design their homes differently, and if you have a dog that fits the “Lazy” category, chances are, you’re often accommodating and/or buying into this casual lifestyle. Or, if you have an elderly dog who isn't necessarily lazy but needs a little extra support, Shanna Hostetter, Owner and President of Keystone Puppies, shares that low beds and other furniture options will do the trick.
"As your dog ages, their mobility will decline," she says, "But their love of cuddles definitely won’t. Lower bedding will help make the leap easier, leaving them independent for longer.”
Russell Hartstein, Certified Dog Behaviorist and Trainer in Los Angeles and founder of Fun Paw Care, also adds that soft surfaces, like carpets, rugs, or even soft stairs can help for both old and younger dogs alike. Soft surfaces offer both comfort and remove the danger of slipping, falling, or causing potential injury.
From lounge areas in (almost) every room to cozy blankets and comfy chars, if you have a Lazy dog, you’re all about comfort and making yourself, your dog, and anyone who walks through your doors feel relaxed and at ease. Your home design should naturally prioritize a big living room, couches (dog-friendly, of course!), oversize blankets, soft pillows, and snacks (human and dog treats alike) within reach.