Doing some home renovations this summer? My household — which includes three dogs and three cats — is currently in the middle of a large kitchen and bathroom renovation. From budgets to delays, remodeling is stressful for people, but it shouldn’t have to be disturbing to your dogs. Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a contractor, here are a few tips for dog safety during home renovations:
Home renovations have the potential to quickly turn your comfortable home into a dangerous place for dogs. Contractors can leave doors open. Dogs can become spooked by construction noises, or become aroused by strangers in their house. Not to mention all the tools and equipment that can cut your dogs, or injure them if chewed or swallowed. To ensure the safety of your dog, never leave him home alone with your contractors. While work is happening, keep your dog crated or securely locked in another part of the house. In the evenings and on the weekends (when work isn’t happening), use xpens and baby-gates to segment different areas of the house to keep dogs away from in-progress areas. Be sure your dog is microchipped and wearing a collar with updated and clearly legible tags in case he gets out.
Renovations can uncover mold, lead and asbestos, all of which can be hazardous to you — and your dog. Similarly, conventional paint fumes can be really harmful to your dog’s eyes, nose and respiratory system. When painting, always keep areas well ventilated with fans, open windows and try to choose Zero – VOC paints that won’t negatively impact the air quality of your home. If you are installing new carpeting, discuss off-gassing with your contractor and carpet retailer. New carpets are usually treated with a variety of stain-fighting and fire-retardant chemicals that can make your dog (and you!) sick. Allowing the carpets to “off gas” before they are installed, and laying the carpets using staples instead of adhesives can also help with reducing the chemicals your dog will inhale.
Dogs thrive on routines. Between the dust, noise and disarray of a home renovation, it can be hard to maintain a sense of normalcy — but it’s important to keep up with as much of your dog’s routines as you can. Monitor your dog for signs of stress, including any change in temperament, refusing to eat or having accidents in the house. Move your dog’s favorite toys to areas of the house not under construction so he has access to things that make him comfortable, and try playing calming music to distract him from any disturbing renovation noises.
A tired dog is a happy dog! Though the added expense can be inconvenient while you are renovating your home, sign up for a new dog sport class. These sessions help your dog burn off some energy, and give him a break from the chaos of the home improvement projects. Also try to plan fun outings for your dog on the weekends — hiking or swimming at the beach is a great way for you and your dog to shed some of the stress of the renovation.
A home renovation is a great time to focus on keeping your dog’s brain busy. Trick training will strengthen your bond to each other, and mental exercise can be as fulfilling as physical exercise for dogs. Home renovations are also a prime opportunity to make use of puzzles for dogs to help keep their brains active while confined to only part of the house, and as a distraction to the noise and stress of construction.
Thumbnail: Photography courtesy Sassafras Lowrey.
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Sassafras Lowrey is an award-winning author. Her novels have been honored by organizations ranging from the Lambda Literary Foundation to the American Library Association. Sassafras is a Certified Trick Dog Trainer, and assists with dog agility classes. Sassafras lives and writes in Brooklyn with her partner, a senior Chihuahua mix, a rescued Shepherd mix and a Newfoundland puppy, along with two bossy cats and a semi-feral kitten. Learn more at sassafraslowrey.com.