Are you in the dog house? Well, that might not be such a bad place after all. Around half of all British households have a pet, and our furry friends have never been so pampered.
But one thing all owners howl about (sorry) is the mess that four-legged friends tend to bring with them.
So what can you do to stop your sofas being destroyed and your carpets being covered in mud?
Build a shower room
Freshening up: Victorian Plumbing has a 3-Spray Dog Shower Handset for £96.24 (victorianplumbing.co.uk)
According to interior designer Emma Sims-Hilditch: ‘A pet shower never goes amiss in a household with dogs.
‘These are often positioned in a boot or utility room and are a must-have for those wishing to keep a clean and tidy home, particularly after long and muddy walks.
‘The shower can be integrated into the design of the room by using the same tile on the floor and walls of the shower. Not only does this look great, but it makes the shower practical and easy to clean.’
You want a dog-height shower, with a sturdy waterproof barrier around it, and preferably a good-sized towel warmer.
Set the shower at waist level so you don’t have to kneel to clean your dog, and a little step would be handy so they can walk in, rather than you having to lift them (and it can be used for muddy wellies, too).
Victorian Plumbing has a 3-Spray Dog Shower Handset for £96.24.
If you don’t want to build a doggy spa, you can buy a ready-made, enclosed washing cubicle to keep in the garage or basement. You just need to connect it to the water supply and drainage.
Vevor produces a range in stainless steel, such as the 50 in Pet Bath Tub, big enough for a large dog, which comes with a shower attachment, straps to hold your pooch in place and steps so they can clamber in (£917.99).
Try a pet ‘car wash’
Don’t have enough indoor space for a shower room? Consider building a washing zone outside, with a shower connected to the hot water supply.
To make light work of it, try the Woof Washer 360, a hand-held, hoop-shaped hose that you pass your dog through, a little like a car wash (£22, amazon.co.uk).
House and hound: The right fabrics can keep your sofa hair-free – choose smooth materials, such as leather, or hard-wearing short, synthetic fibres
Choose furniture wisely
Ask a dog or cat owner where Rover or Fluffy makes the most mess, and nine times out of ten the answer will be ‘the sofa’.
You might be able to keep your canine pal off a fabric settee (try telling a cat where it can and can’t sleep…), but those hairs will still somehow find their way on to the cushions. And good luck trying to vacuum them off.
So choose smooth materials, such as leather, or hard-wearing short, synthetic fibres, and stay well clear of anything that will trap dirt or fur or can be scratched (deliberately or inadvertently) by sharp little claws. That means velvet and velour are definitely out.
Wooden or cane legs are also inviting for doggies who fancy a chew, or cats who want to sharpen their claws. Stick to metal frames if you can. A dedicated scratching post is a must for cats.
‘The choice of flooring is key,’ says Emma Sims-Hilditch. ‘We recommend avoiding loop pile carpets, which can be damaged easily by your pet’s claws.
‘Instead, we suggest laying a natural stone floor. These not only look great in a garden room, kitchen or boot room, but are incredibly durable.’
Zone your home
Your canine chum needs their own space sometimes. You can keep all of their toys there, too, so they don’t infiltrate every nook and cranny of the house.
A play pen will do the trick, such as Lords & Labradors’ Wooden Puppy Pen in white or grey (£129.99).
One reason that dogs often climb on to sofas is because they like elevated places for sleeping. If you buy a nice raised bed for them, they will be less tempted to climb on to the soft furnishings. The Dog Bed Company does an attractive, large, handcrafted oak bed with Queen Anne legs for £299.
Watch the walls
Cats often stalk along walls, while dogs get overexcited and crash into them. Either way, if you have expensive textured wallpaper, it might take the brunt and end up dirty or torn. So stick to washable paint, such as Dulux Easycare (brilliant white emulsion, £50 for 10 litres from B&Q).
Banish those hairs!
Pet fur can get absolutely everywhere. Tackle the problem with the Dyson Groom attachment, which allows you to vacuum your pet for stray hairs. Just what he or she thinks of it all you will only find out when you try (£65).
Savings of the week! Drying racks
The Black & Decker three-tier rack is reduced by £50 from £199.99 to £149.99 (robertdyas.co.uk)
A tumble dryer may be a handy appliance, but it can also be an energy guzzler.
Despite the energy price cap freeze, most households will still be looking for ways to reduce their fuel bills this winter, which makes an electric heated airer worth considering.
These racks dry clothes effectively and the cost is about a third of that of a tumble dryer. Devotees also like that they are gentler on garments than dryers — and far kinder to the planet.
Robert Dyas, with a large range of models, offers the Status 220W dryer in silver, which would be suitable for a single person or a student.
It is reduced from £69.99 to £49.99. Robert Dyas also stocks the Black & Decker three-tier rack (left), which would suit a larger household. Its price has been cut by £50 from £199.99 to £149.99 (robertdyas.co.uk).
At Lakeland you can take £15 off the Dry:Soon three-tier rack bundle. This includes a cover, which helps to keep heat in and turns into a storage bag. The price is now £177.98 (lakeland.co.uk).