Spring has Sprung: Dealing with Dogs and Mud

Liz Palika

Dogs and Mud

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.

Changes Outside

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 the mud - at least a little?

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

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 paws. If you use one of these, make sure your dog isn’t going to chew on it as you don’t want him swallowing pieces of it.

When Your Dog Comes Inside

Preventing the worst of the mud from making it into the house is the best idea, but your dog will still get some on his paws and belly. I like to keep old dog towels at hand 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 do the toweling 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 have a pail of clean water handy so that each paw can be dipped into it, cleaned, and then dried. This hasn’t worked for me but many dog owners really like it. Feel free to try it.

In the House

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. This way the furniture is protected and I won’t get angry if things get dirty.

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.

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.

Last, but certainly not least, a good vacuum cleaner is a great investment. Any mud that does make its way 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.

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