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How to Prepare Your New Home for the Family Pets

If you have just bought a brand new home or are thinking about doing so, there is one concern every homeowner needs to think long and hard about: Pet ownership. For those of you who already have a pet or have had a pet in the past, you probably already know about more than a few of the common concerns. Accidents and claw marks on the nice floors, fur in the carpets and dander in the air ducts are all serious considerations, especially when you’re planning on protecting the value of a new home. Fortunately, homes were built to last and with only a few preventative and maintenance steps, you can ensure you, your family and your animal companions can all live comfortably together in the new place. All you need is a little forward thinking.

1) Choose a Safe Place for Food Bowls
For well-trained pets that already know how to behave in a home, the messiest part of pet ownership is often the area where you place the food and water bowls. Without hands, dogs and cats can’t pick up their food one bite at a time or sip their water. Food bits and droplets almost always hit the floor, sometimes together creating moist disintegrating food puddles. We can all agree you don’t want this to happen on carpet or wood floors. Choose a tiled or linoleum area for the food and water bowls, preferably in an out of the way place in the kitchen where messes are easy to clean up.

2) Establish a Primary Pet Bed
The next major concern is shedding, dander and toys left around the house. The worst shedding mess always occurs where your pets sleep and most enjoy playing with their toys. To minimize impact on the rest of the house, establish one primary pet bed, most likely in the living room where your pet can nap near the family. This will not only be the place where your pet has soft cushions to sleep on, it’s also where you’ll encourage them to keep their toys. Dogs will often help you keep their own items tidy and with cats, it at least gives you a place to toss their toys when you find them.

3) Put Down Plastic Mats in Pet Areas
Both the pet bed and the food bowl areas are more likely to get messier than any other space in the house. While you can simply clean up all the time, one of the best ways to make sure the floor is protected is to put down plastic mats beneath each designated pet area. On carpets, you can use the kind often chosen for wheeled chairs in carpeted offices while a simple rubber-backed mat will work for feeding areas on tile floor.

4) Define Off-Limit Rooms and Furniture
If you have bought or brought in nice furniture to decorate your new house, there are probably a few pieces you would prefer the pets didn’t sleep on or see as their own. It is very important you set these rules up immediately or your pet won’t understand if the rules seem to change. Make it very clear some furniture and possibly a few rooms are completely off-limits to your pets from day one.

5) Keep Towels by the Front Door
If you own a dog, going for walks or playing out in the backyard are among their favorite joys. However, these walks and playtime aren’t always the cleanest experience, especially if it’s been raining. For muddy dogs, make sure you always have a few spare towels near the front and back doors. This gives you the opportunity to give your pet a quick wipe-down before they go bounding over your nice carpets to curl up on their favorite chair.

6) Bathe Pets Regularly
If you’re worried about your nice new home acquiring a distinctly pet-like smell from either dogs or cats, the best way to keep this risk down is to make sure your pets aren’t too smelly. Dogs should be bathed about once a week while cats may only need bath time once every month or two. Depending on what type of pet you have and how often they get messy, be sure to bathe them on a regular basis with plenty of brushing to reduce smell, hair and dander.

7) Steam Clean and Change Filters Every Six Months
Speaking of hair and dander, one of the biggest impacts a pet can have on a home is embedding their shed deep into the carpet. Vacuuming regularly can make a big difference by pulling up loose hair before it has a chance to be walked into the carpet pad but every six months, you’ll want to completely refresh both the carpet and the air filters. Change your HVAC filters on a twice-yearly schedule and occasionally rent a steam cleaner to pull small pet particles (and other things) out of your nice new carpets.

8) Keep Your Pets Entertained
Finally, don’t forget that bored pets are much more destructive to a home than pets who have plenty to do. Dogs need to go on a lot of walks, play outside and have a variety of chew toys to keep them busy while cats need fake mice, feather sticks and hunting challenges or they might start clawing the furniture. Keep your pets well-entertained and keep up their training for happy mutual time together in your new home.

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