Just like children or a spouse, dogs are a big part of the family! It’s important to consider how they will adjust and respond to home renovation projects. If your home improvement plans call for several contractors working inside areas of your home where your furry friend usually roams, you’ll want to make the process as stress-free as possible for them.
While the humans in your house might know exactly what’s happening, you can’t explain it to your dog. But, there are steps you can take to help make the entry of these new environmental factors go as smoothly as possible.
Let’s get started with our 8 tips for starting off your next home improvement project on the right paw.
Introduce Your Dog to Your Contractors
We recommend explaining to contractors early in your vetting process that your home is just as much your dog’s as it is yours. Have a conversation with them to gauge if they are dog-friendly and comfortable working with your barker-in-chief being present while they do their work.
It might sound weird to stage an introduction, but if you can get your dog to understand that your contractors are trustworthy friends, it will help both parties start off on the right foot.
You can give your contractors and other workers dog treats to keep in their pockets. This way, when they meet your pup, they can give him or her a treat. It will also help your dog associate them with exciting, happy interactions.
Set Ground Rules with Workers
After settling on a contractor or group that you’ll work with to carry out your home improvements, it’s a good idea to discuss some ground rules with them. Whether you choose to let your dog wander freely, or you create a safe space for them out of the way of the work, make sure everybody is on the same page and knows where your dog will be.
If your pup is roaming free, make clear with any workers where it’s okay for them to store tools and supplies. This will help avoid any accidents that could harm your dog, injure workers, or cause damage to your house. Also explain to them which doors and windows are acceptable to be left open, if any.
Agree on a Project Schedule
Your contractor should provide you with a schedule for each day that they’ll be working. This will establish a timeline of how long the job will take, allowing you to plan your care schedule for your pet.
This becomes especially important when you’ve decided to go the route of setting up a safe space for your dog, where he or she will hang out while contractors are working. You’ll need to think about feeding times and bathroom breaks for them. Having that schedule from your contractor will help you plan ahead so that you can coordinate with other family members, too.
While the schedule might be less important if you plan to let your four-legged friend wander independently, it’s still a good idea to establish some routines for them to get acclimated to.
Creating a Safe Space for Your Dog
Whether it’s to calm your dog’s anxiety around strangers, or to keep them away from loud noises and the bustle of workers, creating a safe space for them to relax while the renovations are being done can be a great solution for ensuring their safety and comfort. It will keep them out of all the action and eliminate any concerns you might have about added stress and discomfort for them.
Your first step will be identifying another room in the house where they might already gravitate towards, like your living room, bedroom, or kitchen. Additionally, if they are crated-trained, you can have them stay in their crate, which can offer the added flexibility of moving the crate around the house as the renovation progresses.
Next, you’ll of course want to ensure they’ve got easy access to water throughout the day, and to food at their typical feeding times. Giving them their favorite dog bed or pillow will allow them to rest and relax as they want to. It’s also a good idea to leave them with a piece of your clothing if you’ll be away from the house throughout the day, because your scent can offer them comfort if they get anxious.
If you elect to go the route of using a crate as a safe space, don’t forget to plan for a family member or part of your renovation crew to let them out for food, bathroom breaks, and time to stretch their legs.
Offer Them a Distraction: New Toys
If your dog loves their toys, you can get them some new ones to draw attention away from the home improvements you’re having carried out. It’s the perfect way to divert their energy from worrying about the noise and changes around the house to instead focusing on all the fun they’ll be having.
If they’re staying in a crate or room, the new toys will offer comfort despite the slight change in environment. They’ll also begin to associate renovations with getting something new and exciting, so it’s a way to positively reinforce good behavior and get them comfortable for any future home improvement endeavors you might plan.
Do a Walk-Through Every Day
Before you let your dog back into any areas of your home that are being worked on, take a quick walk-through to ensure there are no lingering hazards. While this could include obvious issues, like tools being left lying around or chemicals that your dog could ingest, it can also include smaller hazards like screws, nails, or other debris.
Keep As Much of Your Normal Routine As Possible
Believe it or not, changing your dog’s routine can cause them added stress. Even though you’ll have a lot going on during your home improvement project, it’s key for your furry friend’s sake to keep to as much of their normal schedule as possible. Stick to their normal feeding schedule, maintain any walks you typically take throughout the day, and allow them to access areas of your home they habitually visit at specific times.
If there are aspects of their routine that must be adapted, it will help to identify those early in your planning and start shifting to those new routines a couple of weeks before they’ll need to take place. For example, if your kitchen is undergoing renovations and you won’t be able to feed your dog there for a couple weeks, you can start feeding them in the dining room two weeks before the project will begin so that they are only digesting one major change at a time.
Dogs are creatures of habit, and this simple advice can help them feel calm and like everything is going on as it should.
Use This Time to Train
Trying to train your dog? If you’ll be at home while the renovation work is being done, you can use that time as an opportunity to train on how to respond new people. If your dog is anxious or overly excited by newcomers, this could be the perfect opportunity to overcome that.
The best tactic for this type of training is positive reinforcement. While first checking that it doesn’t impede your contractor’s ability to get their job done, you can reinforce good behavior by giving your dog treats as they respond in the way you want them to. Any workers in the house can help in this training by providing treats when they notice your dog responding with good behavior too.
If the idea of having your dog at home while you’re doing home improvements is just too stressful, you can also consider sending them to boarding kennels for part or all of the project, depending on your comfort level. If you decide to board them, make sure you visit them regularly so they know they’re still loved, though.
While it might seem overwhelming to manage a home improvement project while also taking care of your adorable family pet, these tips will help make the process both manageable and perhaps even fun. Don’t lose sight of how much both you and your dog will enjoy those new improvements, which will make the whole process worth it.
Mike Powell has been around dogs all his life. They’ve been a part of his moves across the state, home renovations, and much more! He shares his knowledge and passion for dogs at Dog Embassy.
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