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Did you build a house with your pet(s) in mind?

8 years ago

I have two cats and one dog. I feel like this is a very conservative number of animals. I will always have pets and possibly more than I do now! We may foster/rescue one day but that's a topic for another day (most likely that would be an outdoor or separate-from-the-house project since we have the acreage.)

I do have some specific desires for our build (cat pan placement, catio, pet doors, dog bed, etc.) but right now I wanted to see if anyone would be willing to share any considerations you made for your pet(s) when you built your house - what were they, what would you do different, what do you WISH you had done, etc. Pictures or examples very welcome.

Comments (31)

  • 8 years ago

    We are in the midst of designing our retirement place. We are professional dog trainers and currently have 10 dogs. And 1 cat. By the time we move we will probably have 8 dogs as two of the dogs are over 14.

    I will post a few pics later of what we are planning. Not at my computer right now.

  • 8 years ago
    That sounds excellent. Thank you!
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    The "large" production builders to which I referred are not the big national companies, so I should have chosen a different adjective. In our area there are no national or large regional home builders. There are several local tract home companies that do the vast majority of the building in this area which includes the largest city in the state. They have cornered the market on labor as our builder and others like him have been told repeatedly over the past couple of years. I realize now that this may be unusual for other places. In addition to getting quicker response times from trades, these few production builders are favored by the local/regional suppliers for materials. Whether it's concrete for the typical slab foundations here, lumber for framing, roofing shingles or bricks, those builders are prioritized. This is a LCOL area, and only a small percentage of houses exceed $600K. Our builder's stated price range is $500K - $3MM, and our house was at the upper end of that range. We haven't been in our new home very long. I've already found problems, including some egregious ones, with cabinetry, electrical, plumbing, the installation of windows and doors, etc. Over the years we bought three houses from the largest production builder in this area, the most recent as a temporary/part time home while our new house was being built. Those three houses combined cost less than half of our new custom home, yet the finish quality (as in trim carpentry, installation of cabinets and counters, etc.) was better than the work done on this house, albeit the materials weren't the same quality. I realize there's a lot of antipathy toward production builders on this site and some of it is likely justified. However, not every market is the same and not everyone has access to the same quality of architects and builders. Three years ago, I thought we'd lucked out and found a builder who could build our last and best home. At this point, the only things I'm truly pleased with are the lot (>1.25 acres in an area where .25 - .50 acre lots are the norm) on which we tore down the original house, the proximity to grandchildren, and the pool. Sorry for writing a book here. If we'd been able to find an existing house on a lot that worked for us, I think we may have been better off GC-ing a remodel there while living in the temporary house.
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  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Oh yeah - always have to take into consideration where the cat pans will go.

    In this house, I evicted a kitchen base cabinet so we could install an in-line auto waterer for the kitties and the total 250+++ lbs of dogs. (They go through gallons a day - the automatic refill waterer is a gawd send)

    Floors always have to be critter proof -- tile and wood (with 4 coats of bullet-proof marine varnish.)

    One closet became a built-in cabinet for the boxes of critter food (150lbs at a time) and the bags of food (another 80 lbs)

    A well lighted dry basement with a big open area - 15 x 28 ish is minimum) is great for working dogs in bad weather - at least on basics as it is not enough space for top level obedience with directional jumping etc.

    BTW, I am with a breed specific rescue. We would not be willing to place a foster with someone who was going to stick the dog out in a kennel building. When these dogs come into rescue they need intensive attention (a) so they don't withdraw from contact with people due to the stress of losing their home and/or (b) they need intensive socialization - bonding to people, basic manners etc.

  • 8 years ago

    We have 2 dogs and 3 cats so we kept them in mind when designing our house. The counters in the laundry, where the cat pan is, don't have bottom cabinets, we just had them put the counter top on decorative legs.

    One dog hates to come inside the house so we had a dog door installed in the walk out door in the garage, and made her a cubby under the stairs in the garage for when she wants to come in. She also has a outside dog house to use also.

    We had the back porch screened in so the cats can go outside but still stay safe. There is another unscreened porch for humans and dogs.

    Used LVP for the floors since it holds up well for the pets and is easier on my budget.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    We are in the process of finalizing our design, but absolutely building for the dog. His wish list is here:. Building for the Dog

    by the way, Jack is a rehomed rescue, as was our previous husky.

  • 8 years ago

    Use galvanized "livestock or hog" panels on the screen porch to prevent damage to the screens.
    Easy access out of the house and into the backyard. These screen porch doors with animal access can be found at the big box stores for cheap. The built in dog door is fantastic. Check out Freedom Pet Pass doors .

  • 8 years ago

    So our current place is 12 acres, 4500 sf home and separate kennel and clubhouse that can house 30 dogs. When we move my dream is to care for my dogs only.

    i mis-spoke earlier, I will have 7 dogs when we move, my son's dog will go with him this summer. One of the 7 remaining dogs is my daughters that will stay with us until she finishes college.

    The 7 dogs consist of 4 working line German Shepherds (read busy, active dogs) and 3 Lancashire Heelers (small herding dogs).

    The first thing that is for the dogs is the property itself, 13 acres in the mountains with walking trails, swimming ponds and creeks. Secluded and private.

    The main floor of the house is being designed with the dogs in mind. We will be doing stone or slate floors in the main areas. We have 2 masters on the main, (long story but hubby has bad neck so needs a special bed). Each room has a space for a decent dog bed. The little dogs generally sleep I our beds or share with a GSD.

    In the mud room I have space for 3 small crates for the Heelers. This is mainly for feeding time. The GSDs all eat in their kennels in the basement. Each of their runs will open into a covered run. All of these crates/runs are for use when we travel for the pet sitter or kids, our dogs absolutely spend their days with us, in the house or out on the property.

    Here is a layout of the basement showing the dog room, it includes 4 kennels with outdoor runs, an elevated bathing station and feeding station.

  • 8 years ago
    Ann Scott-Harold - that auto water sounds really neat. I must have sounded like I wanted to put dogs in a fence out in the woods! I completely agree with you, a foster animal needs to be with the humans fostering it so that it can learn to trust and feel loved, for sure. I haven't really thought it through but I guess I pictured a bunch of feral cats that I trapped, fixed, then released, and then finding shelter in a little "cat barn" perhaps. Anyway like I said I haven't really thought that through, I just want to help critters and I have the heart to do it!
  • 8 years ago
    Sandy - I'm glad you mentioned the screened porch. I am planning a multi-use "catio" that sits in between our garage and kitchen... Kind of like a breezeway. Did you use regular screen or something heavy duty? I don't think my cats will be destructive but I mainly think about wild animals getting in at night. I'm thinking of putting the cat pan off the porch accessible through a kitty door into a built in "box" that I can open and get to to clean it through the garage. (I'll post example.)
  • 8 years ago
    Something like this that is accessible via screened porch (catio)
  • 8 years ago
    mojomom I wish I could "love" your thread! That is so cute and very well thought out and considerate for your fur baby. I feel pet pictures coming...
  • 8 years ago
    shayneabe - thank you for the pics and door tips! Did you have "regular screen and put the livestock cage stuff in front of it? I was thinking of getting some super duper pet durable screen (will post link)

    PS: sorry all for my multiple comments instead of consolidating-- I'm on my phone
  • 8 years ago
  • 8 years ago
    Annette- all I can say is wow! Thank you for sharing. Your dogs are very fortunate to have such caring people. I too want to make our dog and any others have their own special place in our bedroom. Our little dachshund/corgi mix (rescue) sleeps in her little bed next to our two year old's crib right now.

    I especially love the covered outdoor runs you have planned!
  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    House location(s) were basically chosen for the dogs. Our summer house is on 5 acres in a neighborhood w/ 250 acres reserved for trails. Lots of woodsy trails. Our winter house, we sold our first one in large part b/c the idiot neighbor would yell at the dogs and we bought a new one which is on four acres and has a fenced play area. We put pet screen on the lanai so they could run around and I converted the pool to salt water from chlorine b/c they like to swim and the chlorine bothered their fur.

    In our summer house, our dogs have their own room. They only go in here when they eat or prepare for walks or have their after-potty night time snack (the rest of the time they are with us) but it is definitely their room!

    Doggy bath. Steps pull out. Fridge and freezer houses their food only (raw fed)

    This is custom painted to match the coloring and markings of the two dogs

    They even have doggy door knobs and doggy cabinet knobs!

    In our winter home, the house was definitely not appropriately planned for doggies (we bought it, not built it). The laundry room had no room for crates so one of the bedrooms has become theirs. I'm having built-in crates put in and I bought a couch w/ a chase so the dog can sit on the chase and look out the front window.

  • 8 years ago


    Here is the waterer. It has held up just fine in the house.

    All you need is an outlet - kind you put in for a hose. A short section of hose (we used clear plastic hose) and the hose attachments for to connect the hose to the faucet and waterer.

    Need to unhook it every 7-10 days and give it a rinse - at least I have to as my crew all rinse their teeth after meals!

    If you are in Michigan, we always need foster homes! (And not a huge breed- Shelties)

    I have Shelties and Kuvasz (huge Hungarian Herd guarding dogs - ancestors of Great Pyreenes) and mine are working mobility Service Dogs for me (well the old man is retired -he just bosses everyone else.)

    If you rely on crates a lot, a utility area where you can have the crates just set up is good. None of mine need crates - only time they go in a crate is at dog shows. I do have to have a place to store all the crates though. Easier if they are a wire crate or soft crate that folds up. (And Kuvasz crates are 32 wide by 48 long and 36 high ......way too big to have many set up.) Any of the Kuvasz people who have more than 2 or 3 of them pretty much end up having a heated kennel building with the indoor/outdoor runs and dedicated grooming area (think a snow storm of long white hair when you blow these guys out) and, of course a puppy room with whelping pens in case they do a litter.

    BTW when I said 'tile' on the floors I didn't mean the slick stuff. We go with a lot of Vermont slate or limestone so it is not slippery.

  • 8 years ago
    Very interesting sbkh! I would love to have a whole "farm" one day. (Not to actually farm, but just gave all kinds of animals!) I love the way we all plan our homes for everyone in our lives, pets are family! I can't imagine life without them.
  • 8 years ago

    yes, we have regular screen material with animal panels toward the inside of the porch. None of the animals have tried to scratch at them. There are several examples on Houzz if you search for them. Also, wanted to mention that our animals love having full view of the yard out of our "full light" french doors. They sit and stare out the doors for many hours a day. Check to make sure the doors or windows go low enough to allow view from the animal's perspective. One of our front windows is right out of view so the dogs jump on the wall to peek out which leaves dirty dog prints on the wall.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I would like to build a dog washing station, or dog shower really, in our mudroom when we do the whole house remodel.

    We have a 110 pound bloodhound that we're able to wash outside year round here in sunny California, but that will change in Tennessee's cooler winter and fall weather.

    I'm thinking of something like this, or maybe a full size shower that would also work for human guests.

  • 8 years ago

    In our house, the pets are family members, so they share our spaces. We didn't make any specific changes specifically for the pets. We keep the cat's 'equipment' in the basement, and I had planned some sort of pet door for her access, but it hasn't been necessary. We simply leave the basement door open, as the temperature down there is pretty moderate year-round. Believe it or not, our dog doesn't eat the cat's food or anything else. We did buy 7 acres so Daisy would have something to do. She never strays- She really is a great dog!

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    And I thought my little fellow was spoiled!

    Can anyone give us any idea about how to solve this problem:

    About six months ago our city opened a Bark Park just a few miles down the road from us, and our dog LOVES to go. We try to go between 5:00-7:00, when the place is full of other dogs with which to play. We take him a couple times a week, and we all enjoy it.

    However, these visits have created an unexpected negative: Lately when we try to go out the door, he throws a fit like a two-year old. He whines and throws himself into the crack of the door -- it's so bad that we've started having everyone quietly go out to the car, carrying purses and keys, while one person stays inside to fight and MAKE HIM stay inside. Alternately, we sometimes close off the pocket door so he can't get into the office (which is the room through which we enter/leave the house); this is bad because the office contains HIS SOFA, and I hate to deny him his favorite room while we're gone -- yeah, yeah, he has three beds placed in different areas of the house and he loves best to sleep on "the big soft", which I foolishly consider my own bed, but 90% of the time when I return home, he's on HIS SOFA.

    A related behavior: Sometimes when we're just all at home doing this and that, he goes to the door and scratches and whines, and if we are able to stop and put him on the leash for a walk, he stops at the car and puts his feet up on the door -- he's begging to be taken to the Bark Park.

    We don't get this behavior in the morning when we all head out to work. He is a lazy morning dog, or perhaps the idea of the Bark Park doesn't occur to him that early. He's quite matter-of-fact about us leaving for our typical morning routine.

    Oh, and don't think for a minute that he's deprived of outdoor time: He has a large fenced-in back yard containing sunshine, shade, a pond -- and since we're on a corner, lots of "visitors" walk by and call out to him -- it's a small dog's paradise.

    He's a smart dog. For example, he's trained to ring a bell when he wants to go out into the back yard. And in spite of being blind from birth, he remembers directions. My husband says that if he had thumbs and longer legs, he could probably figure out how to drive the car.

    He's 25 lbs and full grown, so we can force him to stay, but when we leave the house, we can hear him CRYING inside, and we hate it. He's two years old, and we didn't have this behavior before the Bark Park came into our lives. I don't want to stop taking him, but I do want to be able to leave my house without a fight.


  • 8 years ago

    I wish for our landscaping we'd added a dog-washing facility of some sort with a hot/cold water bath. (The climate here is such that bathing a dog outdoors is comfortable almost year round.)

    Luckily we have an extensive area with stone flooring where we are most of the time, and the dogs are restricted to that area, so it works for all of us.

  • 8 years ago

    mrspete - Have you considered getting another dog? Sounds to me like he is telling you he wants to play with other dogs and he is lonely being home by himself.

  • 8 years ago

    Mrspete, can you make it a point to always go to the dog park at the same time on the same days and never deviate (don't know how flexible your schedule is?) If he knows exactly when to expect it as part of his normal routine, then he wouldn't expect to go at other times.

    My dogs have a pretty set routine and they know, for example, that Monday is park day and 10:00 is walk time and 3:00 is swim time and 4:00 is dinner time and 8:00 is apple time. They always look to me to do those particular things at particular times and don't really try at other times because they know what their schedule is (it's pretty amazing how much they know their schedule... then even adjust to daylight savings w/in a day).

  • 8 years ago
    I agree that mrspete needs doggy #2!!
  • 8 years ago
    Oh I can't believe 80% of my comment was deleted! I went on to say that maybe if you did consider another dog y'all could "test" their relationship with your dog with a foster or shelter willing to work with your looking for a playmate that "clicks." Also, keep going to the bark park! Maybe when you leave the house you could offer a treat or other distraction. I actually do have a two year old and I'm the master of distractions!
  • PRO
    6 years ago

    Great ideas!

  • 6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have four small parrots, two of which were rehomed from neglectful homes where they were kept in tiny cages (one came with a broken wing and the other plucked and severely malnourished). I try to give them the best life I can, which is hard for a human as these animals were meant to live with other parrots in the wild, not confined to cages in homes with ceilings and walls.

    I will be doing an attached garage to the house. The garage will attach by a 24x 14' room, which will have floor to ceiling glass on one side. The glass side will be shaded by foliage, maybe a large tree. This is where my birds will live. It will allow all of them to have a view. It will also give me a little space, should I want a nap or have company. Currently, three of them live in a room where I have to stagger the cages to get a view. The other is by himself in another room, in front of a window with the best view in the house. They also have places to eat in the kitchen, places to sit in the bathroom, and night cages in the master suite area.

    If I had the money, I would fight to make laws to protect these animals. They are highly intelligent, affectionate and personable animals and many are left to languish in small cages with substandard nutrition.

  • 6 years ago

    I'd like to attach a cat-sized cushioned platform up high in a sunny south-facing window. They love to sleep in high places, and they love to sleep in the sun in a south-facing window in winter.

  • 4 years ago

    What Is the Ideal House Temperature for Dogs and Cats?

    You love pampering your pet with gourmet treats, designer toys, and automatic pet doors. But are you confident your dog or cat is happy with the thermostat setting?

    The best temperature for your pet depends on various factors including breed, health conditions, and other circumstances. Consider the factors that affect your pet’s ideal temperature and how to choose the perfect thermostat setting to balance comfort and energy efficiency.

    Factors that Affect the Ideal Temperature for Pets

    There isn’t one perfect temperature setting to accommodate the needs of all pets in every season. Consider the following factors to help you determine whether your pet prefers a warm or cool home:

    Coat type: Dogs and cats with thick, long coats tend to be more cold-tolerant. In fact, they often overheat faster than humans. On the other hand, pets with thin, short fur (and hairless varieties) aren’t able to retain body heat as well and therefore prefer warmer temperatures.

    Size: Smaller pets have a higher surface-area-to-volume ratio. This means they have more skin through which to lose body heat relative to their size than larger animals. That’s why small dogs tend to get cold faster than large breeds.

    Weight: Body fat is also a contributing factor. Overweight pets have a thicker insulating layer to protect against the cold. However, the health risks associated with obesity greatly outweigh the added warmth in the winter, so strive to keep your pet lean and fit.

    Age and health: Young puppies and kittens, as well as elderly pets, tend to require warmer house temperatures. Animals with acute infections or chronic joint conditions benefit from higher temperatures and heated sleeping areas as well.

    Choosing the Best Temperature for Pets

    With the above information, you can set the house temperature to the ideal setting for you and your pet. Here are our recommendations:

    Summer Temperature

    In general, you should set the thermostat between 75 and 78 degrees F when you’re at home in the summer. If you have a large, long-haired dog, such as a Husky or Samoyed, around 75 degrees may be best. If you have an elderly short-haired cat, 78 degrees could be preferable.

    When you’re gone at work all day or on vacation, don’t set the temperature any higher than 80 to 82 degrees. To ensure your pet stays comfortable, provide fresh water and an area to cool off, such as the basement or a room with tiled flooring.

    Winter Temperature

    Plan to set the thermostat between 69 and 72 degrees when you’re at home in the winter. Large, animals with thick coats tend to prefer temperatures on the lower end of this spectrum, while you may want to set the thermostat higher for your hairless cat or new puppy.

    When you’re away, set the thermostat no lower than 60 degrees. Keep the temperature a little higher for small, young, or sick animals. Always provide your pet with a soft, warm bed, and open the curtains so the sun shines in, giving the animal a place a sunbathe.