Dealing with Dogs and Mud

Holiday & seasonal
Golden retriever smiling with mud on face

Spring is a wonderful time of year. Flowers begin blooming and the trees are leafing out. Spring is the promise of new life and new beginnings.

Spring can also be messy and muddy; especially if you have a dog (or two or three). Thankfully there are ways to get around it and your house doesn’t have to be as dirty inside as your yard may be outside.

Minimize the Mud in Your Yard

Take a look at the areas your dog frequents – is there any ground cover? There might be grass there later in the year, but what about now? What can you use to cover even just a little bit of mud?

Straw can be messy, but it can also cover mud, it’s inexpensive, and it’s biodegradable. A bale or two of straw, spread thickly, can keep the mess down, and later the grass will grow up through it. As you mow, the straw will be chopped up and become compost.

You can also use hardscaping in your yard to build pathways or cover up muddy spots. Decorative stones, brick, paving stones or cement can be used to build pathways and decrease paw-to-mud contact.

Another more expensive, but permanent, solution is to build a patio between the yard and the back door. Ten feet or so of flagstones or concrete can make a huge difference.

Top the flagstone or concrete with outdoor matting made specifically for messy situations. These carpet type mats (as compared to small welcome mats) have stiff bristles or rubber teeth that are made to get the mud off of shoes or boots and do just as good a job on dog paws. If you use one of these, make sure your dog won’t chew on it as you don’t want them swallowing pieces of it.

Another culprit of muddy dogs is digging. Learn about some trainer-approved tips to help your dog ditch the habit of digging.

Clean Muddy Paws at the Door

Preventing the worst of the mud from making it into the house is the best idea, but your dog will still get some on their paws and belly. I keep old dog towels near the door to wipe paws and bellies. Even if the dogs are still damp afterwards, by toweling them off I can keep the dirt to a minimum.

This means all my dogs are taught to tolerate being rubbed with a towel. Bashir, like most of my dogs, likes it and pushes his face under the towel, encouraging me to begin rubbing.

Where you towel them off depends on you and your house. If you have a porch, entry way, or mud room, do it there. I don’t, so I have a thick washable rug inside the door. I stop the dogs there and towel them off. They know to wait for permission to go into the rest of the house.

Some dog owners keep a pail of clean water handy so that each paw can be dipped into it, cleaned, and dried.

Prevent Mud Around the House

Cover Furniture with Blankets

My dogs are allowed on the furniture because I enjoy them being close and snuggling, so during the spring mud season (and other times of the year with inclement weather) I keep attractive but easily washed blankets on the furniture to protect it from mud and dirt.

Invest in a Washable Slipcover

Some dog owners use slip covers for their furniture and this is a great idea too, as long as they go on and come off easily. The slip covers also need to be washable.

Put Towels Over Dog Beds

If you don’t allow your dogs on the furniture, that’s fine too. Have some dog beds strategically placed so that when your dog is cold and damp, they’re available. A thick towel over the top of the dog bed can catch most of the dirt.

A Good Vacuum Cleaner is Essential

Last, but certainly not least, a good vacuum cleaner is a great investment. Mud that makes it into the house – whether on dogs or on shoes or boots – can then be vacuumed up as soon as it dries. Spring is messy, but the mud that comes with it doesn’t need to ruin your enjoyment of the season.