Keeping a Clean House with a Canine

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If you live with a shedding, dirt-digging pooch, keeping your house clean can seem like a challenge mightier than teaching an old dog a new trick. From hair imbedded in carpets to paw prints on linoleum, it may feel as if you need to follow your dog around 24/7 to keep up. But tidying after your best friend need not be a full-time job. Before you call in a maid brigade, check out these tips for clean coexistence with your canine.

Clean Pet = Clean Home
"Keeping your house clean starts with keeping your dog clean and in good health," says Gina Spadafori, author of Dogs for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons). "Keep your dog bathed and brushed. You'll minimize odors and shedding." Dogs smell better after a bath. Also, remember that hair caught in the brush or comb won't end up under the bed. Shedding occurs seasonally in dogs, typically in the fall and spring, so take extra care around April and September.

Trained Pet = Clean Home
The payoffs of obedience training are myriad, and can even mean less mess. "It's not hard to teach a dog to wait on a mat until you've wiped its paws before coming into the house," explains Spadafori. "Letting a dog run in from the mud without pausing is always a mistake." House-training is also crucial. A well-trained dog will not make a mess unless it's sick.

Decorating for Doggies
"If you want white, wall-to-wall carpeting, please don't get a dog!" implores Spadafori. Instead she recommends hardwood or tile floors. If that's not possible, remember that washable throw rugs are easier to clean than carpeting, and synthetic carpets with stain shield are easier to clean than wool or cotton fibers.

If you like to cozy up to Fido on the couch, you should also be selective when choosing upholstery. Leather and pleather are easy to clean, and tightly woven fabrics resist tears from claws. Loose or open weaves may lead to holes, but most furniture can be protected with an attractive, washable throw.

Products to Stock
Spadafori emphasizes that every dog owner should keep an enzymatic cleaner on hand to take care of urine, feces, and vomit clean-up. Don't use an ammonia-based cleaner, which itself can smell like urine. When possible, clean immediately after your dog makes a mess to avoid staining. Saturate the area with the cleaner, and wait a few minutes before vacuuming with a wet and dry shop vacuum. (Dog beds and other areas where dogs lounge and play can be cleaned once or twice a week either in the washing machine or with the enzymatic cleaner.)

If you don't want to invest in a specialty vacuum cleaner like a wet/dry shop vacuum, rug brushes and specialty sponges are effective for removing even stubborn short hairs from carpeting. An air purifier can help remove pet odors from the home. Spadafori also likes to have a hand vacuum for spot cleaning, and a roller-type lint brush to de-fuzz clothing.

"Animals, like children, come with a degree of untidiness," she says. "But you can minimize the impact."