By Erik J. Martin, CTW Features
Got a dog, cat, or other furry, feathered, or fin-equipped friends? You probably think they already rule the roost. But the truth is that our animal companions deserve dedicated spaces of their own where they can feel pampered, safe and comfortable – “pet-friendly” zones that can make life easier for both of you.
“Having a designated area of your home just for your pet is a game changer. It’s like having a little oasis for your furry friend to call their own,” says professional dog trainer Tommy Wilde, owner and editor of Floofmania.com. “A pet room or zone, which I define as a specific area where your pet can eat, sleep or play, is a great idea because it gives your pet a sense of security and helps reduce clutter in other areas of your home.”
Crystal Litzenberger, a veterinary technician in New York City, says a pet zone particularly benefits animals with separation anxiety.
“The pet can feel calm and supported in their own space, even when nobody else’s home. This area belongs to the pet in the same way that a bedroom belongs to you,” she says. “The ideal space to designate for your pet is one that’s accessible to you yet separated enough that it allows for privacy for your pet.”
Diana Melichar, president of Melichar Architects in Lake Forest, Illinois, recommends that canine owners create a “doggie mudroom” located near their most-used exterior door.
“Here, mess and dirt are contained to a specific area, so they won’t be tracked into the rest of your home,” says Melichar. “The ideal doggy mudroom includes a shower pan and shower hose for bathing and rinsing muddy or salty paws, an easily accessible counter or shelf for dog shampoo, baskets for toys, treats and other pet supplies, and a closet with storage shelves for dog-related laundry items and cleaning supplies.”
While some experts are fans of using mudrooms as a pet zone, Litzenberger cautions against using the space as a resting area because it can be a higher-traffic area than desirable for the animal. Additionally, a basement might not be a great zone because it’s too far removed from the family.
Ask pet-friendly design expert Julio Arco with Bark and Chase and he’ll tell you that a converted closet, niche, nook or cubby can be suitable options for a dog or cat space, depending on your home’s design and your pet’s specific needs.
“Dogs may prefer a quiet corner away from high-traffic areas, while cats may appreciate a secluded spot for their litter box. Birds and small caged animals, meanwhile, may require a well-lit, temperature-controlled space that allows them to feel safe and secure,” Arco continues.
Cats, on the other hand, might prefer a private space or more public area where, for example, you can place cat towers and a cat bed. (Just remember to keep a cat litter box away from their food and water dishes.)
“Your space has to reflect the personality of the feline, at least as far as location is considered,” Litzenberger recommends. “One thing cats generally appreciate is a vantage point – they want to be nested up high where they feel safe. Cat trees and comfortable shelves are go-to options for your cat’s dedicated zone.”
For dogs and cats alike, it can be smart to create multiple pet zones within your home to help reduce territorial behavior and give the animal multiple places to call their own.
“For example, have one area for eating and drinking and another area for resting, with each zone in a separate part of your home,” says Wilde.
Birds and small caged animals may require a well-lit, temperature-controlled area that enables them to feel safe and secure. Be sure to place cages away from direct sunlight, noisy spots and drafts.
“For small, caged animals, it’s best to keep them in a quiet area of your home away from high traffic. And fish tanks should also be kept in a quiet area with minimal foot traffic to avoid stressing out your fish,” Wilde suggests.