Advice needed: decorating around huge dog kennels

This pink dog crate and Doberman combo just kills me!
My husband and I have two rather large (a pit bull and a bull terrier) and rather old dogs. They have a huge disgusting futon pad on the living room floor they lie on, and drool on, and shed on, and eat dog treats on. And two large kennels against the wall that they lay in. I would like to get rid of both things, but since the dogs are old, they have things like arthritic hips, and one dog really DOES need the kennel because he can't be trusted to not eat things in the house he shouldn't. My husband says the dogs need comfy things to lie on, and as we have laminate floor in the living room, I'll grant him that point.

How on earth do I give the dogs their "comfy spots" without making it look like the living room revolves around pets, not people? -Laurel

Here's my advice, from the mama of two dogs (a pit bull and a small terrier):

Match your home decor
When it comes to decorating around dog stuff, MY go-to is keeping it all within your color scheme. My apartment is all bright oranges, blues, and greens, so I try to purchase dog toys, and beds in corresponding colors. That way when the toys get left about, or when I need to have a pet bed in the living room, they all just blend in, instead of looking messy.

Not all pet beds have to LOOK like pet beds
My big dog Jackson is lounging on oversized, overstuffed decorative pillows in the photo above. These can easily be found for cheap at home design stores.


I love these Meadow Pet Rugs from Wildebeest! They look like funky rugs, AND they can be unzipped for easy washing, and comfy over-stuffing for your older dogs.

Hide your pet bed
Note that my dog Jackson is lounging underneath an existing piece of furniture. Can you tuck your pet beds under a table, maybe lay a long table cloth over it and then your dog can have its own cozy cave, out of sight! Or can you place a pet bed in an unused corner. If you have a large, unsightly crate, drape decorative fabric over it, leaving only the entrance uncovered.

Find a good-looking dog crate
I totally get having to crate your pet while you're away! If you can't retire your large crate, then get one that isn't an eye sore. The one pictured above does double duty as an end table — that means it can be used in your living room or in your bedroom as a bedside table.

Or for a boat load of cash you can find dog crates that look like stand-alone pieces of fancy furniture, like this one from DenHaus ZenHaus.

Those are MY go-to dog decorating tips. What are YOURS?

    • I am SO doing this for my nect apartment! Thanks for the share :)

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    • That's amazing! Unfortunately, it wouldn't work for very large dogs:(

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  1. The crates that look Luke furniture look like they are just built around the existing crate. Go to your local habitat restore and get some funky old table legs and a piece of wood. Drill some holes in the wood, then attach it all to ur existing kennels with fishing line. Presto kennel furniture

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    • Honestly you could probably measure the kennel then find yourself a table that is just large enough to fit over it but small enough so it looks like it's meant to be there, and just plop the table on top of it.

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  2. If you can cover the giant dog pillow with something that's easily washable (like sheets) in fun colours it could at least make it less disgusting. As for the crates, if the room is large enough you could potentially hide them between the sofa and the wall, or put a table over them and put stuff on the table to distract from the doggy jail under the table. I'm fortunate to have four seasons porch where I can hide the dog crates from visitors. So crates in a different room is always an option, the bedroom might be easier to hide than the living room.

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    • I'll have to discuss with the hubster about that. Closets in the other rooms are full ( well we can empty some out but not easily). I once read from someone who had put their crates in a closet in the other room. Our dogs are not allowed in the carpeted bedrooms ordinarily because they like to drag their butts on the carpet – which is a light color. So that's NG. Maybe if they were in the crates in the other room. Locked in when we leave…

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  3. I like a lot of these crates featured. It may be time to give Mrs. Dog Parts a better crate.

    In addition to dog crates, we also have the 'decorating around' challenge with our treadmill, and use a folding bamboo screen for that issue. If your pups have crates that are in use only part of the time, that might be a solution, too.

    Megan, brilliant with the matching the toys to the color scheme of the house idea!! I'll try that.

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    • Because I had some time this morning, I created this inspiration board using my living room and the toys and dog bowls we have purchased to match AND the dog bed I've been lusting after, plus a cool crate cover I'd use if we still needed to crate 'em:

      Source: offbeathome.com via megan on Pinterest

      Living room: mine
      Crate cover: Molly Mut
      Mod dog bed: Amazon
      Rubber dog toys: Zogoflex
      Terry cloth squeak toy: Loofa dog
      Dog bowls: Petrageous Designs
      Dinosaur chew toy: Nylabone

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      • Molly Mutt makes RAD dog bed covers – that crate cover is far from their most attractive fabric.

        I used to cover my big dog's crate with a bold patterned cotton shawl.

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  4. a friend had two large dogs (one lab mutt and one greyhound rottweiler mix), who both shared a very large crate. What she did was put the crate under a tall crafting table off to the side of her living room. This was the dogs' hang out space, sleep space, and their "locked away because you can't be trusted" space. They loved it because she was always standing right next to the crate working on her projects above them.

    I wouldn't build a table attached to the crate, though, since dogs can be wiggly. If the crate were attached to her craft table, her supplies would always get shaken down onto the floor. As a free-standing table over the crate, the dogs could come and go/move around as they pleased with minimal table-wiggling or project-disturbance.

    The crate had cushions along the bottom, but she just got a large toddler-bed sized fitted sheet & put it over the cushions in the bottom of the crate. Every week, she'd switch out the sheet so she could wash the one they'd been shedding & chewing & whatever on. Prest-o! It'd be cute again.

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  5. I want to second the ideas of a decorative, washable cover for the futon. I feel like the two pillows idea is cute but I totally see Dog ending up wiggling and the pillows separating under her- for me, one large pillow is the way to go. When I was looking for a new living room dog bed last year, I came across a site that makes dog bed covers from fabric remnants. You can buy a bed insert or simply fill it with squishy stuff. Maybe that would work well for someone who has lots of squishy stuff that has become unattractive. The company is called Greener Pup. In the end I bought from somewhere else, but I was very tempted by Greener Pup's covers. The bed we ended up with is, essentially, a giant pillow with a hemp canvas cover. It came in a green that looks nice with the rest of the decor in the room.

    I put the older, uglier bedding options in Dog's crate (including an old bed pillow I don't use anymore), which we have tucked between the desk and the wall in the office nook. We keep the printer and printer paper on top of it. It is one of those ugly tan plastic crates. For a while I had it under the dining table in the living room that I covered with picture frames, nick nacks, flowers, etc. If you have a medium or larger dog, the crate won't fit under an end table, but it might fit under a dining table. It also fit exactly under the desk (basically a table I got to use as a desk/ crafts area), although this limits leg room significantly. I have also, in other decor incarnations, covered it with a tapestry. I like having limited visibility out of the crate windows especially when Dog needs to go in there when we have a repair man over or something.

    Dog's bagel bed is under the shorter hanging clothes in the bedroom closet. Yes, I need the storage space, and yes, we now keep our shoes on shelving in the entryway, but Dog needs a place in the bedroom, so. Priorities. The foam mattress part got peed on by my sister's dog, replaced from a foam store, barfed on by Dog herself, and since then, the cover of the mattress has been washed and folded and stored away. It's annoying to replace the unwashable foam every time someone can't keep their body fluids in. Instead, the middle of the bagel bed is filled with an old, free comforter which is easily washable.

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  6. wag.com is a good website for pet stuff. Lots of discounts for members, etc.

    Otherwise, I like the advice that says to get stuff that's not necessarily dog-only and/or that matches your existing decor. We have several blankets laying about our living room–some for both dog & person, some for just person, some for just dog. They all sort of "go," though.

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  7. Building more attractive frames around crates certainly look better, but keep in mind that not all dogs can handle that. I have two greyhounds, and they lose it when they can't see everything in the room around them.

    Also, you probably won't get as much use out of a decorative pillow used as a dog bed. I'd recommend getting a nice, high quality bed- we got a Crypton last year, and it's held up pretty well. Check out this one:

    http://www.greyhoundsonly.com/greyhounds-only-store/beds/crypton-william-wegman-square-bed !!!!!

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  8. If you have an ugly crate and can't afford a fancy upgrade, you could always spraypaint it a "matching" or funky accent color, and line it with matching soft things in a contrasting color that goes with your decor, and put the whole thing under a table that is not attached but fits closely over it. For the bed I'd just get a really funky, washable cover for it and maybe a contrasting color blanket and a few decorative but cheap pillows to go on it or along the wall it's against.

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    • This is a fantastic idea! Our crate is one of those ugly greige airplane-approved plastic crates. I'd love to spraypaint it black to match the rest of our furniture. I never thought of that!

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  9. This won't work for bigger dogs, but my cat's current bed is a large panda shaped pillow pet. It's super cute and easy to fold up when company comes over.

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  10. No judgement here… but in Australia the idea of a crate for you dog is, well foreign to us. I suppose it must be because we don't see dogs as apartment pets as much? We just let our dogs have the run of some rooms/a level of our house or even just the verandah. I'm not linked with ikea or anything, and nor is this site (officially) but they have a heap of "hacks" for pet furniture that may inspire you… http://www.ikeahackers.net/search/label/pet%20furniture

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    • Not all crated dogs are in apartments–I have a friend who crates her dog in their house when they're gone because if they don't, he claws at the walls until he can get to the drywall to EAT IT. !!
      It's a weird thing, what's common care in one country is nearly unheard of in another.

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    • My thoughts exactly! Crating is beyond foreign in Aus – to me its actually kind of abhorrent. NO JUDGEMENT – I just really don't understand it! How long are dogs left in crates for? How often are they crated? I can understand getting to the point that you need to 'lock up' your dog/s – mine are super destructive at the moment due to picking up on our human vibes – I'm 40 weeks pregnant and everything is about to change at any moment. But despite stealing and destroying items, ruining window ledges and putting holes in our new couch, as well as reverting on their toilet training, the thought of putting them in crates hasn't come up. We're working on making our backyard neighbour proof (the reason we cannot put our pups outside is our idiot neighbour), but that is harder than anticipated. Could someone explain the crating thing?

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      • Most dogs that are properly crated actually find it quite soothing. Dogs are natural den creatures–they like to have a place to sleep that's safe and secure. A lot of people give dogs soft things to sleep on, but dogs do just as well with something flat to lie on because soft beds can lead to overheating. The size of a crate should allow a dog to stand and turn around, which is how a dog prepares itself to lie down to sleep. Most adult dogs are left in a crate for about the time that a person is at work–8 hours or so a day, or at night while unsupervised. It's not recommended that they be in there any more than 8 hours any given day.
        Crating is usually to protect a dog from injuring itself due to destructive tendencies or to alleviate undue stress. Dogs with a lot of separation anxiety or stress when they meet strangers can benefit a great deal from being put into the crate. Again, it's a little safe pseudo-den space for the dog. I've seen firsthand stressed out dogs go into a crate and immediately feel better.
        Obviously, these things can be abused by bad pet owners. Leaving a dog in there too much will lead to a restless, sad little pup. But for the most part, it's just normal life for them doggies. They get a routine of sleeping or playing with their Kong while crated then roaming around when they're out.
        It's totally up to a pet owner whether crates are a good option. But I promise, it's not completely abhorrent! :)

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        • Yes! We have learned all of these things, recently. Our dogs love their crate, and while we only KEEP them in there whilre we're at work (because of their tendency to eat/destroy everything), they actually like to sleep there overnight often, and play with their toys there, etc. It really is their little cave.

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          • I've seen dogs do this, too! Just like "This mah hang out place, y'all." Walkin' in and out of their own free will.

            ALSO, ADDITIONAL CRATE USAGE: I have a friend who has a house rabbit and her cage is a crate that they just leave open all the time with bedding and food and water and her poopspot inside. She just walks in and out at her leisure. Crates: not just for dogs anymore.

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        • Yes! I would just like to reiterate that there are PROPER ways to use a crate in your training. You aren't just locking up your dog, but giving them a place to feel safe and be safe, ONCE YOU'VE TRAINED THEM. There are lots of resources to show you how to crate train.

          Also, during warm weather you should have an oscillating fan near the crate to keep the dog cool if necessary. I also like to put a water dish with a reasonable amount of water in it- enough to get a drink but not too much that they will have to use the bathroom before you get home.

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      • Crate training is also used to aid in house training — it works like a charm (at least is has for the four dogs I've had to house train).

        More info on crating can be found on the Humane Society's website.

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      • I'd never heard of it before either, I don't think it's done at all in Australia, but I'd hesitate to call something abhorrent without a full understanding of how and why it is used.

        I can understand how a pup who was trained from a young age using a crate would actually find comfort in having it around, even if they're not shut in it anymore. It becomes like a security blanket.

        It is different, yes, but not necessarily cruel. Besides, over here a lot of people use choke chains and various shock or spray collars to teach their dogs certain things, so it's not like we're devoid of iffy training practices!

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        • I guess the abhorrence stems from the fact that the closest thing I could relate it to is the vast numbers of dogs locked up in miniscule spaces in puppy farms etc. To my mind locking dogs up in confined spaces has always been synonymous with abuse. Obviously this is not the case – but the fact that its so foreign here made it impossible to understand, hence why I was asking for more info. Most of the issues we seem to have with dogs in Aus stems from the fact that we allow them to dominate us, so they feel that they are responsible for us. That's the underlying issue we're having with our dogs at the moment. I can totally see how crating could provide the dog with its own calming space, while assisting the human in maintaining dominance over the dog and allowing the dog to feel assured. This is all part of why I love the offbeat empire – I learn something new with nearly every post. :)

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          • That makes a lot of sense :-) I can definitely understand thinking that way, it's totally strange to me too, but from what I've read, a lot of people who use dog cages when their pups are little don't actually lock them in later on in life.

            Plus, I use a time out technique on my cat when she gets into an out of control rampage – I shut her into the bathroom to calm down. So I guess I use a similar technique, but without an actual cage.

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      • We crate our two. The beagle-mix because he had really bad separation anxiety when I adopted him. The foster group had crate trained him, and the second I broke down and got a crate, he was perfectly happy. It's nice, cause we know he wants to be left alone when he goes to take a nap in the crate.

        The corgi has to be crated because every few months she has really bad… butt issues. Since we have carpet, the easiest thing for our sanity is to crate her when we're not there and put trash bags under the crate for easier clean up. Even without that, she's the type of dog who will eat anything, food or not, so we have to keep an eye on her.

        So yes, crates for all kinds of uses!

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  11. I have a large dog kennel to fit my already large and still growing puppy (6 months and 50 lbs and counting!) so it was hard to find a place for it to fit in the main area of the house. He loves to lay in there to rest and needs it to be where he can watch my husband and I. So I put it under the desk in the office-portion of our living area. We don't have a computer chair and basically use the desk to store pens and the printing area, so it doesn't really serve a purpose…anyway his kennel is under that desk and sticks out about half way. It keeps it out of the way and most people don't notice it. It's his own personal space and he feels safe there.

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  12. I thought of a possible alternative:

    Tops of large bird baths–just the big bowl-shaped part. It wouldn't work for all sizes, but it could work for smaller breeds. They'd be heavy, so most dogs wouldn't tip them over. They're paint-able. Covers could be made. GLITTER could happen. Put thrifted cushions in them.

    My HS English teacher makes giant birdbaths from castings of rhubarb leaves & paints them with glittery/ metallic paints. For terriers and other small dogs, that would be super cute.

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  13. Full size fitted sheets fit very well over a futon mattress. At least those are easy to remove, machine wash and snap back on.

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  14. I love all of these ideas, but from experience I warn y'all to be careful putting sheets or tables over the crate. Our dogs will chew up anything they can possibly reach, including the wall against which we USED to keep the crate. Nothing is safe near them. We can't even keep a bed in there, since they tear it up (although I think they're cooler and happier without one anyway). Anyway, just be warned that some dogs can be expremely good at reaching things from inside the crate, as well as being extremly good at destroying those things.

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  15. Megan-
    Thanks for posting about the Wildebeest Pet Rug! And you're absolutely right, not all pet beds have to scream PET and the Pet Rug was conceived out of my resistance toward another generic donut bed that's hard to wash.
    My customers have used the Pet Rug to put on their couch or bed so their critters don't shed directly on their furniture, as a crate mat or in their car, and stuffed with old pillows and placed bedside. I think the versatility of the rug lets you get creative with how you use it. :)
    Cheers!
    Jane / Wildebeest
    P.S. I too really love your living room!!

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  16. I put my dog's crate under the dining room table (which we rarely use because we have a built in table in the kitchen that we use more often) and it has a table cloth over it so you don't really notice the crate and she think it's just brilliant, it's like a little "dog cave" if you will :) might not work for the really big crates but its an idea – and when we need to use the dining room table it's easy to move her crate into my office temporarily.

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