Home Remodeling Tips for You and Your Dog
It seemed like a great idea at the time: My husband and I decided to get the windows in our house replaced. The company had a great track record and was known for their professional and fast service. When I say fast, I mean super speedy–all 20 windows done in less than two days from start to finish. The project required us to move our living room and family room furniture, but other than that, the company would take out the old windows, dispose of them, and put in the new ones. We signed the contract and waited for the day to arrive.
And then, panic set in. What would we do with the dogs? Our girl Sputnik was about a year and a half but baby boy Woola was only about six months old. And our house would be filled with strange workmen and open windows. Of course there were options, right?
- Kennel them.
- Put them in the car for an all-day road trip.
Did I mention that both our babies were rescues? We have a wonderful veterinarian who also boards animals, but because both Sputnik and Woola have anxiety issues we have never boarded them.
Both dogs love riding, to a point. Woola gets car sick and there’s no place like home when it comes to running space, snacks, and the daily schedule.
In the end, we put them in our office/garage, our bedroom, and outside. They got shuffled around for two days, as did the workmen. “Don’t go outside! Wait–don’t open that door! Hold on–you can’t open the gate yet!” were familiar refrains that prevented the workmen from getting eaten by our 60 pound girl and her 70+ pound little brother.
But what about them? How did the dogs make out with all this?
I guess the easiest way to sum it up would be to say that they were not happy.
Their regular routine had been completely disrupted. The entire window experience was about four days in length: the day we moved furniture, the day and a half of actual window work, and another partial day of putting furniture back meant having them cooped up. We don’t have them around strangers, so they were in the bedroom for a while as two friends came to help shift the living room and family room furniture before (and then again after) the window days. The workmen arrived so early that feeding time and location were changed and bathroom/exercise breaks were haphazard at best for the better part of two days. They typically have full-run of the house, so being shuffled from room to room and shut in was somewhat unpleasant for them.
While the process was not ideal, it was what we had to do to get the project completed. So what should you do to support your pets when you have a remodel project?
Keep them safe
Unfortunately the combination of pets and home remodeling is not always a good one. It is important for your dog’s health that you keep each of them as safe as possible. Some remodeling jobs require demolition; make sure your dog is away from tools, heavy machinery, chemicals, dust, and debris.
Even the calmest dog will act out if provoked by a stressful situation; be sure to alert the work team of your pet so they don’t add to the discomfort. Stressed dogs may lash out at strangers. Our work team was great–they left the house whenever we asked so the dogs could come out for food, exercise, and bathroom breaks.
Keep them comfortable
Although safety is paramount, do what you can to make your dog comfortable during the remodel. We could not stay in the various rooms with Sputnik and Woola while the project was going but my husband and I took turns spending time with them. We cuddled and talked to them so they knew 1) they were not being punished and 2) that everything was okay, even though they could hear strange noises. We reassured them often, even when we couldn’t sit with them; a calm and kind word with a pat on the head does wonders. The more comfortable they are, the less likely future remodeling issues will be a problem.
Reward them when the coast is clear
Whenever your dogs behave well, they deserve a reward. Hopefully you have an indoor or safe and comfortable outdoor space where your dogs can lounge while the work is being done, and hopefully they won’t be so anxious about the change that they cause any destruction. Both Sputnik and Woola are chewers, so in times of stress we occasionally have pillow or slipcover casualties. But because we spent time with them during our window project, I can proudly say that this was not one of those times. Once the workmen left and everything was cleaned up enough for them to roam the house again, they both got treats, including extra run time outside, for their excellent behavior. The best part of offering rewards that first day was that they were super-calm for the remaining days.
No matter how big or small your home remodel project, be sure to think about your dog. With a few adjustments, you and your pet will survive the experience!
Andreé Robinson-Neal is a writer, editor, and scholar-practitioner who publishes under the name AR Neal. She has a dream of changing the world, one word at a time. Find some of her musings at https://starvingactivist.com and her professional portfolio at https://drarneal.org.