how to keep your house clean when you have dogs

How To Keep Your House Clean When You Have Dogs

I have 2 gorgeous, fabulous dobermanns. They’re full of energy and ask to go out to the garden at least a thousand times a day (well it feels like that!). Inevitably they drag the dirt in. Any pet owner will agree that it’s a challenge to keep the house clean when you have dogs.

how to keep your house clean when you have dogs
Tips on how to how to keep your house clean when you have dogs

I walk them every day too, of course, but they used to live on a farm so they’re accustomed to having permanent access to the outside. All of this in-and-out does nothing for the state of my home – not to mention what it does for my concentration when I have to get up and open or close the back door every 5 minutes.

I love walking barefoot too, so having dried-up remnants of muddy paws across the floor doesn’t appeal much.

More importantly, I have a dog food business and cook lots at home so the place HAS to be kept clean. I’ve developed a professional cleaning schedule which is essential for maintaining a spotless house, but when your kids are fur babies, you have to go the extra mile.

list of poisonous food your dog shouldn’t eat

Dog Hairs And Muddy Paws

Thankfully dobermanns are short haired. My vacuum cleaner would have to work much harder if they were German Shepherds. All the same, fur or no fur, muddy paws are my biggest problem. Muddy paws + carpets = a nightmare for keeping the house clean when you have dogs.

She’s very cute, but my lovely little girl makes it really hard to clean…

Some dogs are scared of the vacuum cleaner. Not mine. They think cleaning is a game. When I’m trying to sweep up, Toxa pounces on the broom. Mino grabs the end of the hoover. They don’t make it easy to clean around them! Of course, I’d never swap my two playful pups for the world, despite them creating extra work for me almost every minute of the day. But I do have to send them to their bed (aka the sofa) when I’m cleaning, or I’d never get it done.


The mud is only one of the many challenges to keeping the place clean and tidy: then there’s the toys. Toxa isn’t really bothered about toys, but Mino is crazy for them. Whats more, he’s a devastator. What do I mean by that? He destroys everything. It’s a miracle finding toys that survive longer than 5 minutes. His favourite play-thing is a cuddly soft-toy. He will literally de-gut, Jack-The-Ripper style, any soft-toy in under a minute. Once its fluffy, white innards are spread across the living room floor and sofas, he doesn’t want to know anymore and lopes off to find something else to mutilate.

Food And Water

Some dogs are tidy eaters. Some are not. Mine definitely fall into the second category. I home cook almost all of their food – if you’d like to try cooking some meals or treats for your pooches, you will find recipes here. Toxa ALWAYS ends up with a big blob of food stuck to the end of her nose, which of course falls off onto the floor at some point in the day. And Mino drinks water like he’s in the middle of a lake. Thankfully, that all happens in a room with tiled flooring, no carpets to mess up there!

how to keep your house clean when you have dogs
These are really practical tips for how to keep your house clean when you have dogs – even really big, dirty ones!

Top Tips For Keeping Your House Clean With Dogs

So these are the methods I have found work for me in keeping the place clean. You may well do some (or all) of these already. Maybe you have some other ideas that work well for you? Let me know, leave me a comment below.


I try to keep the toy clutter to just one room. There’s a basket in the lounge that we use as a toy box. Of course, I often find toys lying around the house during the day, but I make a point of picking them up straight away and putting them back in the toy box. (Note to self: I really must teach the mutts to do this on command. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?)

I also limit the amount of toys available. Most of the squeaky toys no longer squeak but Mino still likes to play with some of them so I leave them in the box until he eventually tries to rip them up. Then they go straight in the bin. There’s nothing more annoying than a thousand tiny pieces of rubber strewn across the floor to pick up.

Border Patrol

It’s not just muddy paws that dirty the house. When we get back from a walk in the fields, there’s far more mud on my boots than on the dogs. We have a coir mat outside the door but that only deals with your usual walk-around-the-block level of dirt. I make the pups sit outside while I take my boots off (good practice for them to be able to wait calmly after all). Only once I’m sorted do I let them come in and make them sit on the rug in the hall, otherwise they’d scamper right through the house redecorating all the carpets. Of course, you do have to question the wisdom of having beige carpets and expecting to be able to keep the house clean when you have dogs…

photo of basket with towelling mitts

We have a tiny hall, with just enough room for a slimline cupboard. On top, I keep a basket of towelling mitts and dog wet-wipes.

By the way – if you’ve noticed the extendable lead in the photo above, please don’t think I use this on walks. They’re potentially very dangerous should the spring mechanism fail and the lead flies back into your face. Someone gave me this one and it’s super useful for when I’m out in the countryside and want to tie them up on a long line. I just reel out the entire length of the lead and tie it to the back of the van.

This really is the bare essentials of cleaning stuff: I only use the wet wipes for muddy paws. Otherwise it’s the towelling mitts every time, and I tell you, they are SO much easier to use than a regular towel.

I always used to try to wipe them down with a standard towel, but even a relatively small hand towel was pretty awkward to clean them down with and took up precious space in the hall. Plus I had to do much more washing since I tend to toss them in the laundry basket as soon as they get dirty.

Muddy Paw Solution

The answer was to make little hand-sized pouches out of old flannels and towels. They’re super simple to sew up – it’s not even necessary to finish off the seams.

photo of towelling mitt & flannel

I’m a queen of recycling so I simply sewed up old flannels by folding them in half, sewing one of the shorter ends and along the long side. Turn it inside out and you have a towelling mitt, just right for your hand.

It’s much, much easier to handle their paws and clean them down with a mitt than with a larger towel. Plus, a mitt takes up much less room in the washing machine.

Floor Covering

We use dirt-trapping rugs that are machine washable and they get washed regularly. In the past we had normal house rugs but it was such a faff cleaning them. I had to wait for a sunny day, get the pressure washer out of the shed, blast the rug to high heaven, spraying everything else around it in the process, and then hope there was enough time and sunshine left to dry them before nightfall or the next raincloud (anyone reading this in the wet UK will know that means the rugs were almost always left outside hanging on a line for DAYS ON END.

In our previous homes, we’ve always had ceramic tiled floors which are much easier to clean than carpets. It seems everyone in the UK has carpets, and this house is no exception. Inevitably, every now and again my stern, doggy dictatorship fails and they do indeed scamper right into the house when we get back from a walk, thereby turning the pale, fawn carpets into feature paw-print disasters. That’s what carpet shampooers were invented for. I’d never seen them til I moved back to the UK and I am sooo glad we have one. If you want to solve the problems of keeping the house (and more importantly, the carpets) clean when you have dogs, get one of these. They really are a gamechanger.

Dog Clothes

I often have to toss their coats in the washing machine after a muddy walk. It might seem like I have to do laundry every day (I do) but look at it this way: the more mud that lands on their coats and not on them is less doggy wiping down for me to do when we get home. Given that dobermanns feel the cold, and that we now live in the UK where it is much colder than our old home, Buenos Aires, they are pretty much ALWAYS in PJs or coats.

Restricted Access

We put a baby gate on the door to the kitchen so they couldn’t come in when I was cooking, but it turned out to be the best way of maintaining a clean kitchen. I’m used to having my fur babies with me wherever I am in the house, but no one likes to find dog hair in their food or have a cold, wet doggy nose moisten their bread rolls…

Washable Covers

We have leather sofas. Leather is a very good, resistant material but doesn’t look so good with mad dog claw marks etched into it when over-excitable dobermanns leap onto it at 100 miles an hour. Plus, it takes longer to wipe down the entire sofa surface than simply covering it with a large throw, which can easily be washed and replaced with another throw.

Ditto the bed: I never used to let the mutts sleep on the bed but that’s when there were 2 humans in it. Two humans + two dobermanns = no room for me to sleep. Now there’s only one human though, so I let them on. They make great hot water bottles in the winter 🙂

My mother has a habit of saving those airline blankets that they give you on long-haul flights, and it turns out that sewing a couple of those together makes a pretty excellent throw. Soft, recycled, and free. Win-win.

how to keep your house clean when you have dogs
These are really practical tips for how to keep your house clean when you have dogs – even really big, dirty ones!
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