Active Home: It’s A Dog’s Life

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Active Home: It’s A Dog’s Life

Cohabitation strategies for you and your pet

By Jane Lockhart
Photography (interiors) Nadi K.; (exterior) Jason Hartog

DOGS ARE NOT our whole life, BUT THEY MAKE OUR lives whole. – ROGER CARAS

There was a time when dogs were useful farm hands, helping to corral the herd and watching over the property. At night they slept on the floor, probably near the door, and were never allowed on the furniture. Today, our pampered pets enjoy all the trappings of domestic life – and it’s a damn good life.

Georgie, a Portuguese Water Dog, loves shower time.

Being a dog owner, or being owned by your dog, is a privilege. These canine-toothed bundles of fur (or hair) are considered to be a member of the family in many households. They lavish unconditional love on us, and this devotion is reciprocated. As a result, we’re committed to providing our domestic pets with a happy and safe home environment.


Outstanding design and decor doesn’t have to be compromised when considering pet-friendly alternatives. There are creative ways to keep both parties happy when humans and animals coexist in the same house, condo or cottage.

As a guardian to your four-legged buddy, you only want the best. They, too, require visual cues, discipline and need barriers to help them to navigate through life – and their living environment.

Use the same material as your stair railings for an attractive, and functional, gate.

Access to certain areas of the home, and restrictions to particular rooms, are easily marked by a gate or a door. A baby gate may do the job in most cases, but if you want to up your style game, have a gate made from the same material that was used on your staircase railings. It’s an attractive way to integrate a safe barrier that is also built for wear and tear.


The condominium market is now speaking your pet’s language. Lifestyle marketing has always been at the crux of new condo advertising, but we’re now seeing it directed at dog owners. Elements, such as dog spas and outdoor dog runs, are being incorporated into the design. Some condo developers are looking up and using the space on rooftop decks for a dog park. People with pets are a big part of the condo demographic, and builders are responding to the wants, and needs, of their two-, and fourlegged, residents.

Define pet-friendly areas in your backyard.

I had one client who created their own dog park for their two energetic Portuguese Water Dogs. Their side yard offered multiple levels for climbing, as well as artificial turf and their pets’ own furniture. If you have the space, add a small run to your yard so that they can get outside on days when long walks aren’t possible. Having a defined area for your pets to run, also makes for easier cleanup of dog poop. This couple also included indoor mats, made from a similar material, to help save their floors and carpets when their precious pets couldn’t make it outside.

“Dogs lavish unconditional love on us, and we reciprocate.”


Another client incorporated a dog spa in their home. It was a fun decorating project. We used glossy, graffiti-based, soft purple tile. Everything in this room could get wet – and it did. To make it easier on their backs, a raised floor provided relief in the three-sided shower. In addition, a flexible shower head helped to make bath time fun and functional.

An innovative dog owner drew a fancy headboard on a chalkboard wall behind his bed. He also added one over his dog’s bed, so that she, too, could have a personalized space. This client also believed that a designated toy area was important, not just a toy bin, and incorporated it into his decor scheme.

Baxter the Beagle is a willing model.


Some dogs are climbers, and cats love to take over tables and counters without an invitation. Keep food in sealed glass jars on high shelves, so sensitive sniffers aren’t tempted. Their food and water should be placed in the same spot each day for continuity. To protect your wood floors, and to keep the dishes from sliding, place the (designer) food bowls on a decorative, waterproof mat.

Pets make life a whole lot better.

Jane Lockhart, B.A.A.I.D., Founder & Principal Designer of Jane Lockhart Interior Design. Lockhart is a multi-award winning designer, author and television personality, including six seasons as creative director and host of W Networks’ Colour Confidential.


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