Clean-House Tips for Pet Owners

They're so cute—and so messy. Avoid the frustrations of a new pooch with prevention tips and our advice for canine-proofing your home.

Manage Dog Hair
One of the most persistent issues pet owners face is animal hair—on floors, furniture, and clothing. Place an old towel or sheet wherever your puppy likes to rest, and periodically shake it outside to remove most of the hair before tossing it in the washing machine. Grooming your pup regularly will help diminish the problem of unruly hair.

Pet Hair on Floors
To remove dog hair on carpeting, vacuum several times a week using full suction. Pick a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. On wood and other hard floors, use an electrostatic mop; they're more efficient than vacuums since they don't blow the hair around.

Pup-Safe Upholstery
For furniture that repels hair, resists tearing, and can be cleaned easily, look for top-grain, semi-aniline leathers; scratches are disguised on such pieces because the hide is dyed through and then treated for additional protection and color consistency. If you prefer fabric, look for microfiber or microsuede. Avoid materials that feel loosely woven or thin, and look for terms like "high grade" and "tightly woven" on labels.

Consider hues similar to your dog's hair as well as patterns which can camouflage spots. Finally, place an old towel or sheet where the family dog likes to lounge, and simply toss the cover in the wash as needed.

Pet Hair on Clothing and Upholstery
For clothing, your best bet is to use a tape roller. Loop a ribbon through the handle and hang one from the doorknob inside closets throughout the house so they're always available to use. For furniture, use the vacuum's upholstery tool or a hand vacuum with a motorized beater-bar attachment. Lint brushes designed for clothing and dry sponges (sold at pet-supply stores) also work well.

Protecting Surfaces from Puppy Scratches
For starters, have your dog's nails trimmed regularly. Dogs often scratch doors to let you know they want to go outside or into another room, so cover the area with a Plexiglas sheet as wide as the door and as tall as the space from floor to doorknob. Then, provide an alternate way for your dog to signal you, such as a jingle bell hung from the doorknob. Show him how to nudge the bell, and open the door quickly when he rings it; do not respond to scratching. After the new behavior has set in, remove the Plexiglas.

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