I have to admit that it makes me proud when visitors to my house comment on how they would “never know I have so many dogs”. Truth be told I only have 3 dogs currently so it’s not that many (in my opinion), but I do work hard to make sure my house does not smell like my house is overrun with dogs. After I receive the compliment, I usually joke to my guests that I believe “dogs should be seen not smelt”. Jokes aside, keeping your home free from doggy odours does require some chores and commitment, but the following steps can help you keep a cleaner, healthier home for both you and your dog.
Start with the dog itself
Believe it or not, some people don’t see how the obvious first step to a fresh smelling home is to clean the dog. About 95% of dog odours come from the actual dog itself so keeping your dog clean will result in way less doggy odours in your home.
I got my first dog, an American Cocker Spaniel, when I was a child in the 90s. For some reason my family was told that one should only bathe a dog when absolutely necessary (“if he rolls in dead fish” was the actual example the VETERINARIAN gave us). Luckily for both our dogs and our noses this is no longer the case. Some breeds can be bathed weekly, others monthly, and others even less frequently. Talk with both your dog’s breeder and a professional groomer to decide which schedule is best for your dog, as well as which products to use. Dogs with dry, itchy skin usually benefit from an oatmeal based shampoo. If your dog has a skin condition, your vet can recommend a mild, soothing shampoo. I own a Standard Poodle, a Dandie Dinmont Terrier and a Doberman Pinscher. I bathe my Poodle weekly, my Doberman monthly, and my Dandie’s furnishings weekly.
Maintaining a regular bathing and blow-drying schedule with a professional groomer can also enormously reduce shedding double-coated breeds. With the use of the right equipment, a professional dog groomer can get enough hair out of your dog to make three more! Your dog and your vacuum will thank you.
If your dog continues to have an unpleasant odour after bathing, it may be a sign of something more serious and a visit to your vet should be booked.
I don’t often see owning 3 dogs as overwhelming until it’s muddy outside and then I have to wipe 12 paws about a thousand times a day as they come from my backyard. Although it can a lot of work, dipping paws in warm water and then wiping them off every time your dogs come in and out of the house, this will help keep your floors clean from backyard debris and odor causing bacteria. A bonus to wiping paws is that you can double check to make sure they haven’t rolled in anything dirty and if you’ve got a “low rider” (like my Dandie) you can pick twigs and burrs out of their coat.
A note here for backyard cleaning – I scoop poop daily to make sure my dogs do not step in it, or worse – and by worse, I mean roll in it! I currently have an 18-month-old dog and a 7-month-old puppy; every day is “Wrestle Mania” in my backyard. Keeping on top of your scooping is also a way to make sure your dogs are not having gastrointestinal issues.
Keeping up on regular brushing and combing will keep shedding down as well as alert you immediately to an issue that could be causing a “stink”.
Dental care is extremely important to maintain throughout the life of your dog. Bad dog breath is a sign of dental decay and should be looked at by a veterinarian. Just like with us humans, bad breath can be a sign of periodontal disease, but could also be a sign of an even more serious condition.
As long as you are on top of it from the time they develop adult teeth, it has been my experience that a quick daily brushing using a pet friendly toothpaste will keep your dog’s breath under control, and help keep your house smelling fresh as well.
Many people forget to wash their dog’s collar regularly. If you wore the same garment every day would it smell great? Probably not. The good news is that nylon collars are easy to wash. I put mine in with a cold water cycle and air dry them. Leather collars don’t need to be washed as frequently. When I clean leather collars or leads, I simply use white vinegar mixed half and half with water at first. Let the collar dry out completely, and then apply leather conditioner like Saddle Soap.
To keep your home smelling fresh, make sure you frequently wash your dog’s bedding. Most dog beds have removable cotton covers that can handle a cold wash cycle in the washing machine. I also have 3 beds with cotton filling so the whole bed can go into the wash on a gentle cycle followed by a hang dry. I wash my dog beds about twice a month and the blankets that go on top of them every week. Follow the washing instructions from the manufacturer and use whatever detergent is best for your dog as many can be sensitive to perfumes and do best with an unscented wash.
Pro tip: Don’t forget about your dog’s toys – especially the soft ones. Just like their bedding, soft toys can store dirt and odours, especially if they spend a lot of time in your dog’s mouths – I’m talking to you retriever & pointer breeds! Most soft toys, like bedding, can be washed on a gentle cycle and dried on low in your dryer. A water/vinegar mix is best for washing toys though as you don’t want your dog consuming detergents or soaps.
Once you open a bag of food, it is then exposed to the elements. A few factors contribute to the smell of dog food once it has been opened, including air, moisture and temperature. This is why it’s important to consider how you are storing dry dog food. Unless your dog’s brand of food comes with a reliable, tight, zipper-like seal, it is probably a good idea to use an airtight storage container. I currently use both plastic and stainless steel containers. Always store unopened canned food in a dry, cool place and seal and refrigerate any opened cans.
I have to admit right now I’m a bit of a vacuuming addict. I was gifted a light weight vacuum for Christmas last year (if that’s not a sign I’m getting older I don’t know what is) and I use it every other day. It’s so light and easy that it takes no longer than ten minutes to do all the carpeting in my house. It is no secret that regular vacuuming removes the dirt, dander, hair, and soil that is visible. But it also helps eliminate all the microscopic allergens that you cannot see. I find that regular vacuuming really helps keep dog odours to a minimum. For an extra step in odor control, you can try sprinkling some baking soda on the carpet, let it sit for 10 minutes then vacuum it up.
Hardwood and laminate flooring also need regular cleaning when you own dogs. I don’t find that the hardwood floors in my place are a source of odour, but they tend to show paw prints quickly. I use both a vacuum to pick up debris and a commercial mop/broom combo product to finish. I use a mixture of water and white vinegar to my floors and have been happy with the results from this non-toxic cleaner mix.
I allow my dogs on my furniture so it’s important that I always have washable covers on my couches and backups for them when the “first string” covers are in the laundry. I’m lucky because my mother is great at sewing so my covers match my leather couches perfectly. You can use any throw or blanket to cover couches and I wash mine twice a week.
Never underestimate the power of fresh air. An open window can do wonders for the smell of your home, especially during the winter months or hot summer months when windows generally remain closed due to heat and air conditioning. Even 10 -15 minutes makes a difference.
Plants help clean the air and having plenty of green in your home can help keep your home fresh. It’s important to buy plants that are pet safe. Even if the plants are kept out of your dog’s reach I think it is safest to only have pet safe plants in your home and give your friends without pets the other houseplants you have. I like Boston ferns, African violets, Areca palm and ponytail palm just to name a few. There are plenty so you can definitely find some to fit your taste.
These are just a few ways I keep my house full of dogs smelling fresh. Do you have any tips or tricks of your own? I’d love to hear them! Jot them down in the comments below!