We love dogs without reservation and they love us back. After forced incarceration indoors due to cold winter weather, dogs yearn to get outside in the spring flowers and kick up some dirt. They don’t mean to turn into dirty dogs, but often become furry dust mops that collect and deposit mud with the efficiency of a human toddler on a sugar high.
It’s not just the muddy paw prints or nose-smeared windows that challenge your spring cleaning routine. Jowly dogs like the St. Bernard, for example, can paint walls with drool simply by shaking their massive heads to satisfy an itch. Dogs shed at this time of year, too, and furry drifts turn bright carpets dull, collect in kitchen corners, and coat clothing and upholstery with fuzz. It’s not just long haired fluffy dogs, either—the shed fur from short haired pooches proves particularly tough to eradicate. Doggy odor from your pet’s misadventures rolling in noxious “stuff” can taint your home in unpleasant ways.
You can’t totally prevent dogs from—well, from being dogs. But you can prevent some of the worst dirty-dog-problems. Here are five tips for spring cleaning your dog-loving home.
After playtime in the yard, take a moment to wipe down your dog’s paws. Since dogs don’t wear shoes or take off slippers to cross the floor, some paw-attention drastically reduces the foot-prints that end up on your clean floor. You can have the dog step into a shallow water-filled roasting pan, for instance, to rinse off the worst offenders. Or use baby wipes or dog-specific products designed to keep paws smelling fresh.
Neutralize Dog Odor
They can’t help being aromatic but you can de-stink your dog with baths or even doggy deodorant. Wipe on products can absorb the odor and get the worst of the smell off until a thorough dunking is possible. Check into carpet powders that absorb and remove pet smells. Those designed specifically for dogs smell good to you but won’t offend your dog.
De-Shed The Fur
Combing and brushing your dog on a regular basis pulls off fur that otherwise will be shed in your house and on clothes. A variety of grooming products are available. It’s best to de-shed your dog—especially those with long double coats—outside the house to avoid piles of fluff escaping to multiply under the bed. By de-shedding the dog outside, you also supply birds and other small wildlife with baby material when they line burrows or nests with insulating dog wool.
Collect Pet Hair
It seems to be a dog “rule” that light colored fur ends up on dark clothes and dark fur sticks to light upholstery. Vacuum cleaners designed for pet homes work quite well to keep fur off carpets, while attachments can address upholstery. Hand-held pet hair collectors also prove helpful, and even low-tech sticky-tape from a roller is an inexpensive and effective shedding management tool for furniture and clothing. You also can provide a furniture cover for your dog’s favorite lounging areas, remove daily for a hard shake outside, and/or toss into the washing machine when they get too dingy.
Clean Surfaces Promptly
Dogs shake off as a way to clean themselves, settle an itch or irritation, or just to relieve stress. Your walls, furniture, windows or anything else within “firing range” can end up with doggy droplets that may be a combination of rain, mud, saliva/drool and mucus. Clean with your favorite surface cleaner immediately, before drool and/or mucus hardens.
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, consultant to the pet care industry and the award winning author of 23 pet care books.