Dogs coming in? Keep the mud out

10/23/2012 12:00 AM

10/22/2012 7:41 PM

Mud is my life because I share that life with retrievers. While many dogs enjoy swimming, few go to the extremes of a true water dog in maintaining a coat that's always damp if at all possible, and feet that are as muddy as can be.

Walk around a puddle? I've seen my dogs go out of their way to walk through a puddle.

As if it weren't hard enough to keep my old home clean, I decided to move to one that was even more difficult. That's because the new home is on acreage, with more room for mud and more reason to be out in it, since I'm outside with the dogs every day feeding my horses.

I had to up my game to keep this house clean, but the same rules applied. The best way to keep floors clean is to never let them get dirty. And that means catching those muddy paws before they come inside.

Here are some tips:

Use mats: Put water-trapping mats both inside and outside the door. A small doormat can be jumped over, so go for something larger. The wider the mat, the more chance you have of every paw hitting it at least once. Outside my doors, I have large black industrial mats that hose off easily. Inside, I have color- coordinated Waterhog mats from L.L.Bean – expensive but worth every penny. They really catch the muck.

Wait to wipe: Teach your dogs to wait for wiping. It's not difficult to teach a dog to wait on the mat for a paw cleaning. If you're patient and positive, you'll be able to teach your pet to offer each paw in turn and stand patiently while you towel it off.

One of my dogs used to be so good about this that he'd lift each paw by name: "Front. Now the other. Back. Other."

Save old towels: When towels get too ratty for guests to see, save them for use with your pets. Old towels are great for wiping paws, drying fur and even swiping a muddy paw print off the floor.

My old towels have endured years of hot water and bleach. They're ugly, but they do the job. You can also find super-absorbent towels and mitts made for wiping paws, but I've always found old towels to be more than up to the task. If you do need to buy paw wipes, compare their prices with shop towels.

Never let a mess settle in: If a muddy paw gets past you, don't delay cleaning up. While this isn't such a hard-and-fast rule for such easy-clean surfaces as tile and hardwoods, it's an absolute commandment when it comes to carpets. Keep cleaning supplies well stocked and at hand, and be sure to jump on a muddy paw print – or any pet mess – before it can set.

With all the paws in my household, keeping on top of mud is a must. What the mats don't catch, I do, and the house stays cleaner for my diligence. My move to the country may have meant more mud, but it hasn't meant much more effort to keep the floors clean.


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