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Tips for renovating with your dog

Note: Thank you to Julia from the blog Home on 129 Acres for sharing the following tips on how to manage a home renovation and a dog.

We recently redid the fireplace at our house.

This is a project we’ve been dreaming of for a long time, and we’re really excited to finally be able to have cozy crackling fires this winter.

Renovating with a dog

However, the renovation meant we had to make some special considerations for our dog Baxter. There were strange people in our house every day, there were loud noises, and our living room—his main territory—was out of bounds.

I reached out to Lindsay to see if she’d be open to me sharing our experience and some advice to make renovations easier for dogs. When she said yes, I was thrilled. I started reading ThatMutt when we first got Baxter a year and a half ago. Lindsay’s posts have been really helpful as I’ve learned what it means to have a dog in the family.

So here are my tips on making a reno easier for your dog. I’d love it if you’d weigh in with your own experience, advice and questions too.

Tips for renovating if you own a dog

1. Keep your dog safe.

Construction zones are not places for dogs.

Think of what you need to keep your dog away from danger. Maybe it’s a crate. It could be a baby gate or another kind of barrier.

For us, Baxter has the run of the house every day when we’re at work, and we thought crating him or closing him in one particular room would cause more problems.

We hung plastic sheets over the living room doorways to help contain the dust. These were sufficient to dissuade Baxter from trying to get into the room.

Baxter the boxer mix during renovation

2. Make sure your dog has some familiar items.

Baxter usually spends his time sleeping in his favourite spots, most of which are in the living room.

Making him comfortable during the renovation meant making sure he still had his bed and his favourite chair, even though they were in different areas of the house.

His food and water had to be relocated. We kept them as close as possible to their original spot so that he didn’t have to go hunting for them when he was thirsty. Think about a favourite toy or what’s most important to your dog and make sure he knows where his things are.

[quote_center]”make sure he knows where his things are.”[/quote_center]

Dog during home removation3. Let your dog see what’s going on.

Dogs are naturally curious. Allowing supervised visits into the construction zone so that he can sniff and look at what’s happening can help to make him more comfortable.

We also positioned Baxter’s favourite chair at the end of the hallway. He was as far as possible from the construction zone, but he could still keep an eye on what was going on in the living room.

4. Let your dog meet the workers.

There are basically strangers in your dog’s house. Introduce them as you would any visitors. For Baxter, that meant meeting our bricklayer before he started work, but also greeting and sniffing him every morning.

5. Let the workers know what to expect.

Be open and explicit with the workers about your dog. Will he be loose or crated? Will he bark or growl? Are they allowed to feed him or let him outside?
Make sure to consider what your workers need as well. Maybe they’re not comfortable around dogs.

Baxter the boxer mix

Check in at various points in the renovation just in case people’s comfort levels change. If your dog is loose, be real with yourself if he truly will not be a threat or a pest to the workers. Remember, you’ve hired people to work on your house, not dog sit.

6. Stick to your regular routine … and change it up.

I know there’s lots of debate about whether routines are good for dogs.

[quote_right]”we stuck with the regular routine as much as possible.”[/quote_right]I find Baxter does well with routine when we’re not home. So on days when we were out of the house during the renovation, we stuck with the regular routine as much as possible.

However, I was fortunate in that I was able to arrange to work from home for two days. It made both Baxter and me much more comfortable during the reno.

7. Know your dog.

Be realistic about what’s best for your dog and what you can expect from him. Perhaps being in the house during a reno will be too stressful. Consider doggy daycare or ask friends and family to help out.

Renovations are challenging. Add in a dog, and things can get extra complicated. Hopefully these tips can help to make things easier for both you and your dog.

Now it’s your turn.

Have you ever gone through a renovation with your dog? Did you run into any problems? What did you do to keep your dog comfortable?

Note: Julia maintains the blog Home on 129 Acres where she writes about her adventures of country living and DIY renovating. I’ve been following her blog for at least a year now because some day I hope to live in the country as well.

Jen Gabbard

Tuesday 6th of January 2015

Great tips, and I especially love the idea of letting the workers know about your dog. I suspect they run into a lot of unexpected surprises while working all the time. Our last dog Carter was such a sweetie. We had a new heating/cooling system installed which meant workers at the home for about a month. I asked them if they preferred my dog to be crated or blocked off from them but they said they didn't mind. Carter was somewhat shy and reserved but after a few days he became best buddies with one of the HVAC guys named Gary. He followed him around everywhere, quietly laid down a few feet away from him while he worked. Gary was awesome, he even bought Carter some treats some mornings :) Somehow I don't imagine Laika would be quite as easy to calm down in the same situation.

Julia at Home on 129 Acres

Tuesday 6th of January 2015

I love seeing how certain people and dogs connect with each other. It's great that Gary returned Carter's attention.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 6th of January 2015

Haha. Oh Laika! :)

Rachel @ My Two Pitties

Monday 5th of January 2015

Good tips! We renovated for about 6 months while I was taking care of Zoey last year. The loud noise was really hard for her. Kaya, Norman & Gina were totally oblivious to it, sound asleep even during demolition while Zoey would panic. I thought it would be better for her to be outside, away from the noise a bit but she actually wanted to be closer to me or even closer to my contractor. Not sure if she wanted to protect us from the noise or be protected from it even if that meant being closer to the source.

Unfortunately, she developed a fear of the back yard and she refused to go outside anymore without me. Kaya & Norman, on the other hand, were overjoyed to have some other humans in the house to get attention from.

Poor Zoey. I wish we had another option at the time. Luckily, she has forgiven the back yard and can go out there on her own again.

Julia at Home on 129 Acres

Monday 5th of January 2015

Renovations can be challenging for humans and dogs. Sometime it comes down to patience and persistence to make it through. I'm glad Zoey has overcome her fear and that you had the patience to try and find the best solution for her.

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 5th of January 2015

Oh poor Zoey! I guess that just shows how every dog is an individual and will respond to these types of projects differently. I don't think Ace would really care a whole lot either but I've taken care of dogs that would freak out over something as basic as moving a pillow from the couch to the floor. "Oh my God! Something's different!"


Monday 5th of January 2015

CV is a contractor and so renovating is something I know a little about. The interesting thing is that CV will take D.O.G. with him on some projects. He takes an old jacket and puts it out for D.O.G. to lay on. D.O.G. gets up and meanders over to CV when he needs to go out. We've learned that D.O.G. can not be trusted around white paint. :-) We've had a couple of while spots. But D.O.G. just chills, doesn't matter if a table saw is going off or anything, he just hangs. Now with two little senior dogs, they won't be going to sites but will be left at home with each other, and since the two of them get along well I've got no problems with that. All these however are great tips to remember and try when you do have someone in your home. I especially love the chair in the hallway. :-)

Julia at Home on 129 Acres

Monday 5th of January 2015

That's awesome that D.O.G. is able to go to "work." That's a very special relationship.

The chair in the hallway was a bit of an accident that worked out really well. It didn't fit through the small doorways--or we didn't want to contort ourselves to make it fit--so we just left it in the hall. It allowed Baxter to keep an eye on things, which made him more comfortable.

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 5th of January 2015

I didn't realize CV is a contractor. That's great that D.O.G. gets to go along on some projects! Such a good boy.