When I decided to go Tiny about a year ago I already owned my Australian Shepherd, Rocket. At the time he was about a year old, and I knew that if I was going to make a Tiny House work I would have to get creative about how I fit my buddy into my new way of life. I knew it would take time to figure out the space, come up with a workable routine and figure out a way to get him the exercise I knew he would need.
A Comfy Home
My first concern was making the home comfortable for me and my pup. I started with a crate to help Rocket get used to the Tiny House. Having a large dog crate in a Tiny House, takes some creativity, but it worked well when we first moved. I found a collapsible crate that was meant for traveling so I could fold it up and lean it against the wall out of the way when I was home. This way I was able to free up as much floor space as possible in my “living room” when I was home, but it gave Rocket a space that was all his when I was at work. After the first month I was able to get rid of the crate altogether and simply keep a dog bed inside for him to snuggle up on…although he seems to be just as happy with my rugs.
I also had to find an appropriate place to store his food and keep his supplies. I originally tried to keep his food outside in a Rubbermaid container, but it turns out that raccoons are quite adept at opening up Rubbermaid containers. Rocket was not impressed when the little guys came for their evening buffet. I was also less than excited since Rocket was quite vocal about his frustration with the uninvited guests. After three failed attempts with various storage containers, I realized his food would have to be kept inside. I ended up buying a small storage container that I keep next to my bookcase near my washer. I also decided to keep his water and food bowl on a placemat, to cut down on the water on the floor. Finally, I bought a small bin for his ball, rope toy, raw hide bones and leash. This storage arrangement is out of the way and gives Rocket a dedicated space for all of his important “gear.”
Australian Shepherds are nicknamed “Velcro dogs,” and there is a good reason for that. Rocket likes to be right next to me most of the time. This was probably the most challenging aspect of Tiny living. It took us both a while to learn how to navigate our space without hurting each other. I stepped on him a few times and he tripped me more than once in our first month in the Tiny House. But just like the rest of our routines, we developed workable patterns. He knows to stay out of the kitchen when I am cooking, and is obedient most of the time. He’s found a great spot to curl up under my feet when I’m working on my business at my desk. And he has two spots he loves to use for his daily naps. We have learned how to share the space and make it our own.
I will say that I have to vacuum more religiously because of my fur-buddy. He sheds a lot! I usually vacuum once or twice a day, but it only takes me a minute or two each time, so it isn’t a big deal. I also have to use a lint roller fairly frequently on my “furniture.” Of course now my furniture consists of one chair and an ottoman…so it is still easier to maintain than all the furniture I had in my old house. I will say that I am incredibly lucky that Rocket isn’t a big chewer and he is out of his puppy accident stage. Those things, help me maintain my sanity in the house together and simplify my cleaning routine exponentially.
I think the biggest change to my cleaning routine is the frequency and location of baths for Rocket. I try and get Rocket groomed on a more consistent basis now that I am in a smaller space. It turns out in a tiny space, you want a clean smelling dog if you have a highly developed sense of smell! Initially this was tricky because I no longer have a tub to use to bathe Rocket. Instead I found a groomer I use in winter and this summer I plan on going old school with the garden hose out back. These changes were simple fixes that made it less stressful for me to have a dog in my space.
When I got Rocket I lived in a townhouse with a small outside area and no fence. From the day I got him, we developed a routine of going on walks together. Living in a Tiny House made it even more imperative that I stick with my daily walking routine. I must say I am more consistent now than I was in my townhouse. We almost always take a short walk in the morning and then take a long walk (a couple of miles) in the afternoon. It’s a great way for me to hang out with him and see the neighborhood. Our walks also give me a chance to work on my photography skills, a new passion I found.
But the most unexpected advantage to having Rocket with me in my Tiny House, is the sense of security he gives me. Last night, someone came to my door in the middle of the night and Rocket went crazy. Although he is generally relatively timid, it turns out that he is a phenomenal watch dog. He rarely barks in the RV park, which is a blessing since I don’t want him to bug my neighbors, but if someone gets to my porch he lets me know about it.
Last night my visitor was actually a good Samaritan. Apparently while I was sleeping last night, the parking brake on my car failed, and my car rolled out of my parking space and into the road around the RV park. My neighbor wanted to let me know what had happened and help me make sure my car was still drivable. It was incredibly thoughtful, even if it was almost midnight! Obviously, last night my visitor had great intentions, but I know that Rocket will be there to keep me safe in the future.
I think it is absolutely possible to have a fur-buddy in your Tiny Home if you think through your routines and design a space that is usable for everyone involved. What are your thoughts about pets in a Tiny Home? I’d love to hear your questions!