22 July 2015

Renovating With Dogs : Things To Consider

Whilst most of our reno was completed without us and the dogs around (and what's left of our sanity will be forever grateful for that) for a good six months or more after move in day tradesmen were very much a regular part of our lives. The house might have been finished enough for us to live in, but there was a lot left to do. 

We had carpenters on site building our garage and installing our deck; we had the tilers and the pool guy (technical tradie name) working on our big spa/small pool; we had a whole flock of joiners finishing our kitchen and our wardrobe. Some days there were electricians and tilers and landscapers and painters. And there were stonemasons, who brought their own gas stove and coffee percolator. 

I didn't think too much about what that would mean for the dogs, apart from some vague notion of staying home to make sure they didn't run away. But after one day of trying to get my own stuff done whilst juggling all the tradies and two very curious and loud and possibly likely to escape dachshunds I realised I needed a better plan. 

So if you're about to start a building project and you're dealing with dogs, here's some things to think about:

Find a good doggy day care. Day one I tried to have the dogs at home. By 11am I was googling doggy day care. If you have a lot of tradespeople going in and out of your house it's worth thinking about putting your dog in day care, or finding someone to watch them. With all the comings and goings gates and doors will be left open, even with the best of intentions. It's not worth the stress or the risk. 

Doggy day care also saved my eardrums. Our dogs are quite annoying protective and so feel it's their duty to bark, loudly, every time someone comes in the front door, or back door, or moves more than a metre in any direction. Taking them out of the equation when the tradies were in the house made for a much more peaceful day all round. 

Dogs and power tools don't mix. And neither do dogs and paint cans, or dogs and excavators, or dogs and giant pits in the backyard. Whilst a building site might be a fine environment for a smart working dog who is used to all the mess and noise and sharp edges (my dad was a builder and always had his dog on site), it's definitely not a suitable environment for two dachshunds who think they need to play with and / or attack everything, including power saws. 

Tradies like to eat. So do dogs. At the end of a long day at day care Elfi loved coming back home and having a good sniff about, and cleaning up whatever food scraps she could find. Which might have been fun for her, but I'm pretty sure cheezel crumbs, yogurt tubs and banana skins aren't part of a healthy dog diet.

Once she found the remains of a kebab, in amongst all the builders rubble. (I only realised because things had been very, very quiet for awhile which always means the dogs are either dead or up to no good.) After that I made very sure to check the site over for any food scraps before they came home. (It's worth checking the site over at the end of each day for anything else not dog-friendly too, like paint and chemicals, or dog-sized crevices.)

A few months later we had some painters on site. Two guys who are lovely and who I trust to never leave a door or gate open, so the dogs were home too. The painters had brought their lunch with them, a sandwich of some sort, which Elfi dutifully sought out and ate. Luckily they were quite taken by our hounds and laughed it off, but it was all rather embarrassing. I made sure they had a safe spot up high to store their lunch after that.

Dogs get stressed too. Renovations are stressful. Aside from the logistics of it all there's the emotional part too - you constantly have people in your house, in your space. Your happy calm place, your retreat from the world, is not that at all during a renovation. And your dogs will feel that too. 

Although doggy day care was the best and safest option for us, Elfi (the neurotic one) found it incredibly stressful going there each day. And on the days I kept her at home she found the constant invasions by strangers incredibly stressful too. She actually began to show physical signs of distress - her coat wasn't so shiny, she had a temperature and an upset stomach. Poor thing. Luckily the vet had some good advice on diet and other things we could tweak to help her through. 

If you've got a dog that's bit nervy keep an extra eye on them. Do whatever you can to make them feel loved, and to give them a stable environment, and get them to the vet if they're feeling under the weather.

Have you renovated with pets in the house? How did you manage?

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