Even if we think our sweet pooch is perfectly trained or that our new pup is too small to do any real harm, it’s still good to do some research before you end up with a living room covered by a furry, expensive velvet bug is anchored. Certain fabrics are too tempting to scratch, while certain pieces of furniture can pose a safety hazard. To find out which types of furniture your four-legged friend is most likely to destroy, we consulted dog experts and design professionals. Read on to learn what dog parents should avoid—and what choices are up to the task.
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Although velvet upholstery, whether antique or modern, is a designer favourite, this plush fabric is a magnet for pet hair, is easily destroyed and can be difficult to clean and repair. Many other luxury fabrics pose similar problems.
“There is no doubt that the worst textiles for cats and dogs are silk, velvet, linen, suede and tweed. Aside from being delicate and/or prone to snagging, most of these materials cannot withstand water or the enzymatic cleaners typically recommended for removing pet stains,” explains Leonardo GomezCEO of Runball, a company that sells dog treats and toys.
Jens Stark, founder of Happy DIY Home, agrees. “Cleaning dog hair from furniture is a problem that comes up when you have dogs. Avoid using materials like corduroy, mohair, velvet, or chenille, which tend to attract pet hair.” And when choosing a shade, keep your pet’s color in mind. You don’t want to buy a black sofa when you have a fluffy white dog.
Opinions differ about the popular sofa and armchair material. How it works out for you as a dog owner (as with marble countertops) depends on how much you like the “patina” that the natural material gets with wear and tear.
While easier to wipe clean than fabric, leather is no match for puppies’ nails and teeth. Corresponding Daniel Cargil, co-founder of The Dog Tale, leather furniture comes with some basic instructions to keep it looking good, and these can be challenging if you have a dog. “For example, you never want to get leather wet. This can pull oils from the leather and create stains and stains that ruin the smooth, supple appearance. Now imagine your dog coming out of the rain after a romp in the morning dew or after playing in the snow.”
Cargill also notes that dogs’ claws will inevitably scrape leather, which some may find acceptable. “I would encourage you to just think of it as a complement to the well-weathered look that leather takes on over time,” he says.
On the other hand, leather is quite sturdy and can be a dream come true if you have a very hairy dog. “If your dog sheds a lot, you don’t want a sofa that’s difficult to clean. Materials like leather and canvas are really good at clearing up clutter and removing unwanted fur,” he says Linda SimonVeterinarian and consultant at FiveBarks.
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Just as it is advisable not to wear white clothing at a pasta dinner, dog owners should avoid light-colored fabrics. “Last year my wife bought a white bedspread,” says Cargill. “We made the bed, took a step back and saw how bright and clean it made our bedroom look. Then our dog hopped onto the bed. We had recently taken him for a walk in the park and he immediately stained the fabric with his paws. We tried to remove the dirty stains, but they just kept coming day by day.”
Like your favorite white t-shirt, white fabrics can yellow and fade over time, especially if you constantly treat stains. Instead, choose darker tones such as anthracite, olive or the lightest dark beige. You can also look for washable fabrics that are made to be thrown in the wash.
And if all else fails, invest in a nice dog bed that you place next to the couch to keep your dog comfortable while still being close to you.
Dogs—especially teething puppies—love to chew. “Puppies explore the world with their mouths,” says Simon, who turns wooden table or chair legs into great chew toys. Metal or plastic are less desirable materials for your dog. Of course, wood cannot be avoided. In these cases, make sure you lay out plenty of other chew-friendly toys or rawhides.
You’ve probably heard that coffee tables are dangerous for toddlers once kids start walking. The same principle applies to dogs, although it’s less about hitting their heads and more about the mess that can result. “A glass of red wine flies onto the sofa or carpet with a happy puppy,” he says Reya Duenas by Reya Duena’s design.
Likewise, low drink stands can be problematic as they are usually much lighter and balanced on a skinny leg. Make sure these weigh enough to stay in place and try to put them on a flat floor, not a carpet.
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Beware of furniture with small or moving parts. Dogs can chew them off or swallow them, which they say can cause choking or intestinal obstruction Jeff Netzley, Founder of Dog Training Near You. “It could be buttons, zippers, detachable pillows, or decorative elements like tassels or beads.” These decorative elements are also tempting to slap and play with, which could result in your dog ruining a fun cushion or ornate curtain.
This isn’t so much about your dog destroying the stool and more about how it can hurt it. Corinne Wigfall, veterinarian and spokesperson for online dog training resource SpiritDog Training, warns dog owners that lawn chair accidents are more common than most people realize. “As a veterinarian, I’ve seen a lot of accidents involving dogs (or kittens). [had] Limbs or a tail getting caught in the metal parts of these chairs when the footstool is released, or crushed when put back or the chair is reclined.” Instead, opt for a freestanding ottoman or footrest that you place in front of a stationary one can place chair.
In doubt, Jaquelyn Kennedy, canine behavior specialist and founder of PetDT, suggests avoiding anything expensive or fragile. “If you have a dog, you should avoid having furniture that is overly expensive, fancy or fragile. Even a well-trained dog sometimes gets excited and jumps on the furniture, and that means the furniture gets dirty, scratched, and sometimes even bitten!”