Spring. The mere mention of the word conjures images of green grass, fresh blooming daffodils, and budding leaves. Gentle breezes carry the songs of newly returned birds through windows that have been opened for the first time in months, and soon our homes are filled with all the sounds and fresh scents that serve as proof that winter has finally come to an end. All seems perfect until it’s time for the family dog to come back inside. The spring cleaning that likely took you countless hours to complete is all but destroyed the instant Fido’s muddy paws hit your freshly cleaned carpet. Muddy paw prints are a part of Spring that is all too common among pet owners and parents alike. Though the mere thought of dirty dogs can spur panic attacks in those with wall-to-wall white carpets, you can ease your mind by learning a few simple tips and tricks.
Muddy Paw Print Prevention
For most people, paving over the entire lawn just isn’t an option, and even the best trained dog can’t be kept inside until the mud disappears. The key to preserving your carpet is to keep the mud outside. Frequent cleaning can actually damage carpet fibers and make them less stain resistant, so stopping messes before they happen is a necessity if you want to have beautiful carpets for years to come. You have probably already established a rule that members of you family need to wipe their feet before entering the house. Why not extend this rule to your dog?
While it isn’t likely that you will be able to train your dog to stand in one place and carefully wipe his paws on a mat, you can train him to walk across a large runner rug or series of mats leading up to the door. This can be done by simply leading him on a leash along the path you would like him to take when entering your home. When selecting a rug or mat, pick one that is very absorbent and has relatively long fibers to ensure the best drying and debris removal. While you can use regular mats, there are also some that have been specially designed to clean dirty doggy paws. Mats like the Mugoh Mat (http://www.eecopet.com/content/mugoh-mat) are highly absorbent, and they are perfect for removing excess moisture from dog paws of all shapes and sizes. As an added bonus, these mats will also help prevent messes when your kids forget to wipe their feet.
Often a rug or mat isn’t enough to keep all the mud outside. While they can effectively remove large yard debris and a lot of excess mud, your dog’s paws paw still be a bit muddy. There have been some inventive products like the PawPlunger (http://www.pawplunger.com) which helps remove the excess mud, ultimately the best way to be sure they are completely clean and dry is to dry them with a towel. This can be a bit of a challenge, but if you are patient and offer lots of rewards, you train your four-legged companion to allow you to carefully dry his feet before he enters your home. In order for the dog to learn to wait for his paws to be dried, everyone in the family will have to perform this procedure when letting the dog in. If you and your family have been training your dog consistently and are still having problems getting him to wait for you to dry his paws, putting a baby gate in the doorway is a simple solution that will prevent him from rushing in the house with dirty paws.
Carpet Choices for Pet Owners
Despite your best efforts, it is inevitable that some mud will get tracked in the house each spring. If you are in the market for new carpet, be sure to choose one that is both durable and stain resistant. While wool carpet is the softest and most environmentally friendly option, it is not a good choice for parents or pet owners. Instead, opt for stain resistant and highly durable nylon carpet with cut fibers. These options make for carpet that is easier to clean and less prone to damage. If your home is already carpeted, knowing how to tackle muddy messes the right way will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Cleaning Your Carpets
When muddy dogs come running across your clean carpet it’s natural to reach for the cleaner and paper towels immediately, but scrubbing the paw prints while the mud is still wet will grind the dirt deeper into the carpet. Instead, allow it to dry. Once dry, most of the mess can be vacuumed up with ease. After removing the loose dirt, treat the stain with carpet-safe cleaner. Oxygen-based cleaners like OxiClean work especially well. Allow the cleaner to work for a few minutes, then blot up the stain using a clean cloth. Don’t scrub as this can make the stain worse. If this does not fully clean up the mess, move on to using a carpet shampooer or steam cleaner. Products like the Bissell SpotBot are the perfect tool for the job because they clean up the mess quickly and easily.
Being a dog lover doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice beautiful clean carpets. With a little know-how, both your dog and your carpets can live in harmony year-round, and you will no longer have to dread those muddy spring days.
*Yellow Lab photo by “Product of Newfoundland” on Flickr