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How to Bring the Year of the Dog Into Your Home

Posted on Mar 15, 2018 in:
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Remodel
  • Homeowners

Pet-friendly add-ons include washing stations, pet doors, and more

By Emma Zimmerman, Model Remodel

As a city with more than 150,000 dogs, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau and CORA, the Year of the Dog is a welcome designation here in Seattle. We love our furry companions and any excuse to think about them! And while the Chinese New Year doesn't exactly have to do with actual dogs, we think this year might be the perfect time to consider how your home functions for your canine and what upgrades you could make to your home to help you and your dog live more harmoniously.

If you're planning a remodel or simply looking for your next home-improvement project, turn to your dog for some inspiration. Some changes might be obvious, but others might require you to think like your dog.

Feeding stations

One of the most common dog-friendly remodeling ideas is the built-in feeding station. Not only can you raise food and water bowls off the ground, reducing spillage, but you can also make it easier on your dog's neck.

With feeding stations, you can really get creative. They can be fully hidden in a pullout or bottom drawer, or simply built into the end of an island or cabinet so they can't be accidentally kicked around.

Pet doors

If you have a fenced yard, consider adding a pet door. The latest door trend is techy: it works with your pet's existing microchip to keep trespassing animals out while allowing your dog back in. They can even be programmed to let only one of the dogs out if you need to take a personalized approach for each dog.

If you're interested in something more ordinary, consider a new dog door. You can create a double-door that keeps cold air from getting in or out, depending on the season. You can even build it into a cabinet or a side panel next to the door.

Scratch-resistant flooring

Okay, this one might be more for your benefit. But if you're re-doing your floors and haven't considered your pets, you could be making a big mistake. Non-porous surfaces are best, so you'll want to save the carpet and softwoods, such as pine, hemlock and fir, for another time.

Carpet and softwoods will gather dirt and be prone to scratching. Tile and concrete, on the other hand, are the most durable flooring options. Bamboo and hardwood can be durable, too, depending on the size of your dogs.

A lesser-known but eco-friendly option is cork flooring. Cork's anti-microbial properties will help it stay clean and it doesn't show scratches easily or make noise "underpaw."

Mudroom washing stations

If you don't already have a designated mudroom area, you probably dream of one. Mudrooms are incredibly useful spaces to take off shoes, hang coats and—of course—bring the dog inside from a walk.

Mudrooms are normally built with easy-to-clean tiled floors and have doormats to catch mud and dirt particles. Take it even further with a pet-sized washing station. Depending on the size of your pup, you can consider a washing basin or even a small, curbed shower with a handheld showerhead. A washing station is multipurpose for the avid gardener or weekend hiker who may come inside with muddy gear.

Custom nooks

In one of our recent Seattle design-build remodels, we helped the homeowners create built-in pet beds in their living room. After all, dogs are family. If they aren't allowed on the couch, what better way to show them affection than giving them their own space? Dog bed nooks can be built under the stairs, in living room cabinetry or as a cubby in the mudroom. You can also play with shapes and sizes to fit your dog and space.

We think these solutions will benefit both you and your pooch. After all, you both have to live under the same "woof!"


Emma Zimmerman is the marketing specialist at Model Remodel in Seattle and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). HomeWork is the group's weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you'd like answered by one of the MBAKS's nearly 3,000 members, write to

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