It’s Pet Week part 2! If you missed part one, see this post.

For those who have never read this blog before (or haven’t read for long), let me introduce you to the other major character in this DIY adventure: Charlie

Charlie 2017

Both she and my decorating habits have changed a lot over the years…

old IKEA rug with puppy Charlie

When she’s happy and relaxed, our life at home is pretty quiet:

Charlie relaxing in bed with me and my laptop

More often than not, this is a more realistic picture of her:


Over the years, I’ve had to make lots of adjustments to keep her happy and me sane. At times when I worked in an office, it meant turning down jobs that would make me travel so much that she would be boarded all the time. Now that I work from home as a full-time blogger though, you would think it makes everything easy — but while it is nicer for a dog in many ways, there are still obstacles we have to work on together:

  • I do conference calls with brands while at home. Which is usually right when the UPS guy decides to deliver something and send my dog to DEFCON 3. Not even working in a home office with the door closed makes this ideal.
  • DIY projects, tools, and related dangers are all around, and she likes to be directly in on the action (and even sometimes underneath my ladder).
  • She’s a the medium-to-large size, which means my family likens her to a GIANT and don’t always know how to deal with her size compared to their smaller dogs.
  • Her size also means heavy bags of food to carry around, larger spaces on the couch (someday I hope to get a decent picture of her thinking she can fit when she totally doesn’t), pet beds that can’t be neatly hidden, easy counter and table access, etc.). Luckily, she is well trained enough not to climb on things and understands unattended food does not mean her food, so it’s mostly just her climbing the fence that I worry about.
  • Lots and lots of dirt and fur tracked into the house (to think, I used to want this to be a no-shoe house… HA!)

Adjusting to having a new puppy in the house meant a lot of changes right away when I first adopted her, but after a few years, I learned about those super awesome pet-related things that I had no clue about for a long time: new products, new websites, and other things that make maintaining a busy life with an active dog even easier. So, as I promised earlier, here’s that list! If I ever find other things, I’ll continue to add to this same post (for easy bookmarking later). And there’s also a giveaway from one of my sponsors, Swiffer, below — so be sure to enter with a comment this week and in the widget at the bottom of this post (if you don’t see it in your reader, click over to the post in your browser here).

*some links contain affiliates*

My DIY elevated feeder — I already explained how my DIY project from last year fixed Charlie’s habit of tossing over her food bowl, but it’s worth repeating! Since having built it, there has been far less food on the floor (not zero food, but she’s still a dog… still a messy eater, but she usually keeps it in the bowl now instead of turning over the bowl and eating it all directly off the floor).


Charlie likes to turn her food bowl onto the floor


easy to build DIY dog feeder with full instructions

Microfiber floor mats — I have two microfiber floor mats, one at the front door and one in front of the patio, that are specially designed for catching mud and fur whenever Charlie enters and exits the house. It’s not fool-proof, but it does make a significant difference for me whenever it’s a rainy/muddy/dirty day outside and I don’t want her tracking the muck into the house. I find that since having used them, I am spending less time and effort trying to wipe each of her paws with wet wipes, and my floor doesn’t suffer.

Grooming wet wipes — Of course, now that I’ve got my new block print rug in the living room (and as a fan of lighter colored rugs in general), I still have to wipe their feet. Even though I could use a cheap paper towel, I like the dog wipes for paws. These anti-itch wipes are great for treating Charlie’s allergies (if you’ve ever seen your dog licking or chewing their paws after coming inside, you know what I’m talking about) and I like these grooming wipes as well for when Charlie has a dirty playtime at the park — Georgia red clay is no joke! I buy the bigger containers for savings.

Rinse-free/waterless dog shampoo — Charlie is an anxious dog. And when it comes to regular grooming, it was a LONG process just to even get her to take a bath. She’d freak out to the point where groomers won’t even take her, so I had to re-train her at home. I started with this rinse-free shampoo to keep the time in the tub to a minimum, and it made a huge difference. Over time, I’d use the same shampoo, but incorporate water so she’d get used to it, eventually graduating to deeper cleans. She learned to love the massage and being brushed, and now we can get through it without trauma or me getting soaked to the bone from trying to keep her in the tub. The rinse-free alternative truly did give me some relief (and still does if she needs a quick bath but I don’t have the time or energy for a longer one).

Oatmeal shampoo — if your dog is itching a lot from allergies or fleas (even if you use good flea treatments, they can still get bitten and itch, especially when warm summers like this year mean more summer fleas!). This one is highly rated.

Swiffer — There’s a reason I fully embraced working with this brand as a sponsor of the blog! I use Swiffer all the time. Charlie is a shedder — a massive, unrelenting shedder. Even after first using a good floor vacuum that can pick up her tumbleweeds of hair, I still have to go back through with a Swiffer Wet Jet to take care of all of her paw prints and use their dry cloths to take care of lots of other surfaces. Whenever one of my friends gets a new house or pet, Swiffer products are a very welcome gift (and you can get your own gift by entering the giveaway below!). Oh, and I forgot to mention in the last post: they actually reformulated their wet jet so that it no longer leaves streaks on laminate floors like mine. It used to be my biggest gripe with their products, and their development team took that feedback from lots of folks reporting the same thing and went looking for a better solution (pun-intended).

Food delivery — After discovering the mud mats mentioned above, I went searching for other smart solutions on pet-related websites. I found my answer in the form of automated dog food delivery. I try to give Charlie the best food I can afford, and I order the BIG bags. And since I also subscribe for steady delivery, I get another 5% off. The end result is that it actually beats the price I was paying to drive to a store like Petsmart, but I don’t even need to put on pants or feel guilty that I forgot her food during my last errand for groceries (which sometimes means she gets people food when I run out, but it’s not great for her digestion).

A rolling food bin — I haven’t finished the pantry makeover, but an improvement I made several years ago was a simple investment in a rolling bin that was large enough to fit an entire large bag of dog food. Given that the cheapest price per pound of food is in the large bags, I would buy in bulk, but when I was using a smaller bin, it meant that I could only store a small amount each time in the previous plastic container and had to keep the rest elsewhere (which is a quick way to clutter). I think I only spent $20 on a new bin that also had rolling wheels and a flip-up top, but the mileage and convenience I get out of it is night and day. It just goes to show, once again, that investing in the right products for your house (even if it costs a little bit more than what you were using before) is a smart move because it can save you time, money, and square footage.

“Tough” stuffed dog toys — There’s unfortunately no stopping the gutting of a stuffed toy sometimes. Even when they’re labeled something akin to indestructible, I look at the claim and laugh, because Charlie will eventually find her way inside the stomach of that toy if it contains a squeaker. I’ve learned to just embrace it, but buying “tough” toys instead of the cheap ones still mean she usually hangs onto them a little longer, and that added time is easier on my costs long-term (I pay more upfront, but she hangs onto them long enough for break even or better). Sometimes she’ll have a favorite and keep them intact for months, and others will last just a few weeks, but less cleanup and a happy dog who is quiet during conference calls is a win-win for me!

Honestly, that’s all I can think of for now, but I’ll add more as I think of it! It’s also a great question in terms of a special giveaway:

Giveaway question: What products or services have you been grateful to discover in caring for your pet?

Leave a comment on this blog post for a sweet goodie box from Swiffer! Be sure to also update the Rafflecopter widget too. I actually just asked them as I was writing this post if they would throw in something for you guys (another reason why I like working with them — they really have an awesome and super flexible team), so I don’t have details on precisely what you’ll wind up with, but the box is generally this size (photo is of my sister modeling one of her housewarming gifts):

Emily housewarming gift box Swiffer new mover

Full giveaway details:

  • Prize: a sweet goodie box from Swiffer to help you & your pet keep things fresh & clean (any package I’ve gotten from them includes ample refills to last a while)
  • Number of winners: one
  • Geographical restrictions: U.S. only (that’s usually how it goes, but if that’s not the case I’ll open it up further!)
  • Ends: Friday, June 23 at 11:59PM
  • To enter: leave a comment on this blog post answering my giveaway question & update the embedded widget (if you have trouble with the widget, please let me know, and if you don’t see it, make sure you’re clicked over to my site directly!)

Ready? Go! And thanks in advance for your tips and recommendations on other items… I hope Charlie and I discover something in the process!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This post and giveaway are sponsored by Swiffer, but as always, all text and opinions, embarrassing stories, and bad jokes are 100% my own.

The post Things That Make a Busy Life with a Dog Far Easier (+ Giveaway) appeared first on The Ugly Duckling House.

Website // Subscribe // Advertise // Twitter // Facebook // Google+