What Dogs Have Taught Me About My House

Houses fascinate me.

Most people, whether they rent or own, express something about themselves by where they live. The psychologist Carl Jung built and designed a small castle to express his psychological development. And I look at my own house to see what it shows about how I’m feeling or how I live every day.

Over my life with dogs, the pups have taught me other things about my house—some serious, some silly. Here are just a few things I’ve learned about my house from dogs.

Honey the golden retriever looks at Cape May Lighthouse.

Nice house. All it needs is a dog.

Living rooms and dining rooms are wastes of space. 

How can I tell I don’t use my living room or dining room very much? Because those are the two rooms in the house where house training failures happen. And if you’ve spent any time around dogs who are mostly house trained, you know that they’ll pick the least used room in the house to do their business.

It has happened so many times that I wonder why I even have a dining room or living room. And why I don’t store the Nature’s Miracle in my dining room sideboard instead of under the kitchen sink.

Hound mix on the porch

I was thrilled when our fearful foster dog, Cherie, found the porch as comfortable as inside the house.

Outdoors is better than indoors.

At least according to Honey. And me.

Honey will follow me from room to room. Unless I start on the porch. Then she’ll hang out there until I come back.

Who wants to be inside on a lovely day when they can be outside?

Wood floors are the best (unless you have fur growing between your toes).

After years of having low-maintenance dogs, I sometimes forget to groom Honey. And unfortunately, wood floors, although beautiful and easy to clean, are very slippery to an ungroomed golden retriever.

If Honey is slipping and sliding too much when she plays tug with my husband, it’s time to get the scissors out to groom her muppet toes.

Take a moment to enjoy your clean house.

A moment is all you’ll get. Because ten seconds later, you’ll see a puff of dog hair on the steps or a little dark paw print on your newly washed, white bath mat.

The most welcoming houses are not precious.

Sixteen students from my home buyer’s class came over last night to do a walk-through with a home inspector. Most of them asked if they should take off their shoes when they entered. And I could honestly reply, “This is a dog’s house. Nothing is coming in to this house on the bottom of your shoes that hasn’t already come in on the bottom of a paw.”

And doesn’t everyone have more fun when they’re not worried about breaking or dirtying something?

Chihuahua mix house guest

A recent house guest showing off his perching skills.

The best place to be alone in the house is where you can still keep track of all the action.

Some of the smaller dogs who have visited my home taught me this lesson. They sometimes seek out space away from lumbering other dogs. But they always make sure they can bark if they catch something important happening.

The best spots are at the top of the stairs and atop the back of the sofa in front of the window.

A house becomes a home when you share it with others.

I’ve had roommates who made me feel like I was a guest in my own house. The experience made me appreciate how special it is to live with someone who loves you even when you’re using your “at-home” manners instead of your “with-company” manners.

And let’s face it, if it’s important for you to let it all hang out at home, a dog forgives more than any human.

Honey the golden retriever and friends on the couch.

You say a dog makes a house a home. But just how homey do you want it to be? It’s getting crowded on this loveseat.

A Dog Makes a House a Home

I loved renting.

I remember when weekends were for fun instead of for mowing lawns and fixing the latest thing to break around the house.

But pet-friendly apartments in my town are only for the wealthy. So I own a house for my dog.

And walking in the door to a spitty ball held in the mouth of a grinning golden retriever with a floofy tail makes it a home.

Your Turn: Do you ever look at your house through your dog’s eyes? What do you think your dog would change about your house?





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  1. I don’t think these guys would change a thing. I would like wood floors, but that isn’t going to happen.

  2. Our house is one-level, for our seniors. Our yard is big so they have someplace to play. The house is open so they can keep track of what’s going on. So many things about our home meet the needs of the dogs and why not, they make up half the tenants!

  3. My guys would have a doggy door to the back yard if they could. They absolutely love to go in and out, in and out…..must keep those bunnies and groundhogs in check! The dirt factor that would accompany that sort of freedom would not be a good thing though. My yard can be quite the mud pit after some rain!

  4. I suppose the one thing Blueberry would add to the house is a dog door flap leading into the fridge. 😉

    I’ve had some people comment that my house is really set up for dogs. I’m not sure if they meant that in a good or bad way – but I like to think it is true. Door door? Check! Steps to get on the sofa? Check! Ottoman to get on the California King? Check! Pillow on the bed to rest her head? Check! Throw rugs so she doesn’t slip on the tile? Check! Water bowls in every room? Check!

    • I suppose the one thing Blueberry would add to the house is a dog door flap leading into the fridge. 😉

      I’ve had some people comment that my house is really set up for dogs. I’m not sure if they meant that in a good or bad way – but I like to think it is true. Dog door? Check! Steps to get on the sofa? Check! Ottoman to get on the California King? Check! Pillow on the bed to rest her head? Check! Throw rugs so she doesn’t slip on the tile? Check! Water bowls in every room? Check!

  5. Mom had to find a house with a nice fenced yard so we had a place to romp, and with trails nearby so we could take great walks. We wanted a bright house with windows dogs could see out of, yep, it is a house for dogs. As for the mowing and shoveling, Mom loves the workout and we enjoy being outside with her while she does those chores. We prefer owning as no one can change the rules, the price, or keep us from doing what we want with the place.

  6. My dog would definitely change the wood flooring in the kitchen and hallway, she tends to slide around a lot when she gets hyper. She’d probably also prefer more windows, a lot more.

  7. I know mine would love a doggie door so they could be outside whenever they wanted! We can’t make any changes like that in military housing. I’m also sure they would prefer me to keep the house much, much cooler than I do (even though I am always freezing in our house).

  8. What a lovely read. It’s funny how our homes change to accommodate our dogs.

    My partner and I were lucky enough to have permission to keep a dog at our rental. We have just moved into our own home and one of the things that I was excited about was that we could install a doggy door.

    Being a rental, we didn’t want to waste time and money putting in a dog door but I always felt bad about my dog, Chowski not being able to use the toilet. He never had accidents in the house and is incredibly well house-trained for a Pug! To reward this we got someone to come around and install a doggy door as soon as we could in the new place.

    I’ve also planned in the renovation process to give him his own little ‘nook’ for his bowls and toys. I might even hang a picture there for him of something he likes, like tennis balls! Haha!

  9. Bd and Mity both seem to have fallen in love with my new place, which is brilliant. BD loves the carpets and will woogly on his back every time he comes to stop, meanwhile Mity does a sniff around to see what’s changed and then takes up his position of the sofa . I love that they are both so happy there.
    I do have the shoes off at the door rule, more because I bought the most lovely cream(ish) carpets (I had to, they just went so well with everything!) and I don’t want people walking muck in. But I do it automatically at other peoples house so why can’t people do it at mine (the fact I stand with my hands on my hips refusing you access to the lounge until they are off is a minor fact!) However I have also just purchased a brand new very expensive hoover as to keep the dogs happy and myself pleased I am just going to have to clean plenty – which isn’t a problem for me, I have already cleaned the bathroom three times this week, got out some step ladders so I could reach the top of the shelves and pulled out all the furniture when hoovering. I do hope that this isn’t just a ‘novelty’ and I hope I will maintain this when I have been there for a year or two.

  10. After owning a home, we decided to rent when we had to move from Kansas to Iowa. It was a challenge finding a pet friendly house (not an apartment), but we did find a great one. For the first time ever, we have wooden floor. It is easier to keep clean, except in the corners where fur balls collect. I never groomed Pierson’s feet before, but with wooden floors, I finally did for the first time. I’m not sure I notice the difference.

  11. Leo would have begged for a doggie door, and I think Harley would have preferred for a window bench vs the couch he always lays on when he wants to watch the neighbors walk by. I agree with you totally about the living and dining rooms. Whenever we move, I will never ever have either one of them.