If you live with a dog, you can expect muddy paws and pee to happen. Don’t worry. We’re here to help. Here are a few things you can do to limit muddy paws from making it inside your house.

Stop it before it happens! Keeping wipes in the car and a foot washing station outside gives you the tools you need to clean up your puppy before he tracks everything he’s picked up on his feet inside your house. A washing station can be as simple as a bucket of water near the house and a few towels to a fancy dog shower in your mud room. Easy tip: Try the handy Dexas MudBuster to dip your dog’s feet into.

You can also limit how far inside the dirt gets. Put an absorbent mat outside the door, and add a runner that your dog has to use on his way in. This helps brush off dirt and dry paws. For wet days or post dip in the lake, add a hair dryer, some dog towels and ear cleaning solutions in a basket you can keep close by.

The right outdoor “shoes” can help keep your pup from bringing in dirt and mud. Choose booties meant for the type of outdoor activity your pup is doing and that fit right. Of course, wearing shoes requires training. Use high-reward treats, like pieces of hot dogs, for positive reinforcement to make it a pleasant experience for your dog.

If shoes prove too difficult, try Musher’s Secret or other natural dog wax products on your pup’s paws before you head outside. The wax barrier helps keep dirt and mud from getting too deep into the fur and sides of the paw pads. Materials like salt or sand that is used on snow or found at the beach can be trouble. Wipe all this off your dog’s paws as soon as possible. If you aren’t at home, have dog wipes you can use in the car.

Good grooming habits help

Regular brushing and bathing is key to keeping the fur from your furniture, clothing and floors. And, keep all things trimmed — not just your dog’s nails. Be mindful of any hair or fur poking out between the foot pads. Trimming that back makes cleaning easier and helps cut down on dirt that your pup picks up. Even if you have your dog professionally groomed, keeping things trim at home with a cordless clipper and a cordless nail grinder goes a long way.

Since you’ll most likely be wiping your dog’s paws at least once a day, use a gentle soap. Try dry dog shampoo or a gentle dog shampoo that is safe to be used daily. Finish off with a conditioner or paw moisturizer.

Tips for tracked-in dirt No matter how much you organize and plan, your pup is going to bring the dirt inside. When this happens here’s what to do:

Grout — for small areas, try using the eraser of a No. 2 pencil. For harder grout stains, use special grout-cleaning products or a paste made of baking soda and water. Apply with a toothbrush or grout cleaning brush.
Daily mopping can be done with warm water and should work for most paw prints. If you do use a cleaning solution or vinegar on your floor, go over once more with plain water and a dry mop to finish.
On carpet, let the mud dry to make cleaning easier. Dry mud on carpet should be vacuumed up slowly first. Hit it at all angles and take your time. When doing your final cleanup on carpet, blot instead of rubbing so you don’t harm the fibers.
Hair and grime collect on baseboards. Use a fabric softener sheet to clean them up. Not only will you get clean baseboards, but you’ll discover they will repel dirt for a week or so before you’ll have to do it all over again!
Vacuuming weekly if not daily is a must. A lightweight, cordless vacuum makes cleaning easy. And, if you condition your puppy from a young age to be around an automated robot cleaner and/or vacuum, she will be less likely to perceive it as an evil creature that should die. Just get a model specifically made to combat animal fur.

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Taking the EEE out of PEE

One thing you will find yourself cleaning up a lot with a puppy is pee.

There are four main reasons why a dog may tinkle in places he shouldn’t:

The most obvious is that the pup hasn’t been housetrained yet.
Your dog is dealing with anxiety. Seek the guidance of a trainer or behaviorist to solve this issue
It’s marking. Both sexes do it but males are more often the culprit. More likely than not you will have to deal with marking at some point in your dog-owning life.

When I was a dog sitter, owners would come in for a meet and greet and the pup would make a beeline to a piece of furniture and pee on it. “Oh my!” the pup’s parents would exclaim, “He never does that.” It very well may be the first (or one of the few times) their pup marked inside.

Imagine if you were that pup. You walk into a strange place, with all new things, everything smells like dog — EVERYTHING. What’s a pup to do? Claim a piece of the pie, that’s what! Cleaning up right away, keeping new things safely out of the way, diapering up when inside new places and getting your dog spayed/neutered helps with marking.

Finally, the fourth is your dog is sick. If a dog who’s never had accidents in the house starts to, check in with your vet ASAP. There are several health-related issues that may be causing the new behavior.

When pee happens

One thing is certain, you will have to deal with cleaning up pee. Here are some tips:
Get to the pee when it’s wet. The faster you clean up an accident, the less likely you will get stuck with lingering smells.
Place paper towels, newspaper or an absorbent chamois on top of and under (if possible) the messed area. Blot, don’t rub, until all the moisture is removed.
Blot area with clean water.
Waited too late and now it’s dry? Don’t use a steam cleaner. The heat will reactivate the smell and make things worse. Use a wet-vac on these spots instead.
Use a pet odor neutralizer or cover the area in baking soda overnight and blot with a vinegar/water solution in the morning. When all else fails, call out the professionals. Carpet cleaners often charge more for pee-stained areas, but it’s worth it!

Natural cleaners

A number of cleaning brands have great, natural based solutions. Before using, review the ingredients and look for notes from the manufacturer on the bottle and website regarding the safety for use around pets.

If you are looking to mix up a DIY version yourself, below are some key ingredients. Remember to do a spot test first for any cleaner, natural or not, first to make sure it won’t damage the surface you are cleaning.

Vinegar: This liquid’s acidity is what helps break up grease and grime.

Baking Soda: When you get down to its core, baking soda is a very mild salt. Its pH balance is the opposite of acidic, which makes it the yin to vinegar’s yang. Its ability to absorb acidic odors makes it a natural way to combat smells in your home or on your dog, and the light, abrasive powder helps dislodge stain particles.

Hydrogen Peroxide: A safer alternative to bleach, hydrogen peroxide properties mirror many of its benefits. It is known for its antibacterial qualities and can be used to help kill germs and bacteria. Be careful not to let your pup ingest this magical liquid, as it is also an effective way to get them to empty their stomachs!

Products to check out

Dexas MudBuster; $14.99-$24.99. chewy.com
FoamCare Pet Shampoo; $14.99. vetericyn.com
Vida Cordless Clipper; $230. small-animal.andis.com
Zymox Shampoo and Leave-On Conditioner; $15.99 each. zymox.com
ONEPWR Evolve Cordless Upright Vacuum; $199.99. hoover.com
Trinova Pet Stain & Odor Remover; $15.97. chewy.com

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