First published for the NWFA Magazine March 28, 2017:
Every dog has its day…right? These days it seems as if dogs are living the high life. We’ve seen a growing number of adorable pooches who have their own Instagram and Facebook profile pages as well as a large following. Everywhere I’ve traveled recently, it’s been easy to find hotels that are “pet friendly” complete with dog treats and courtesy leashes in the lobbies.
This past week, I listened to some entertaining “dog tales” from the National Wood Flooring Association team about Michael Martin’s dog “Woodrow Forest Barker” aka “Woody”. He’s become the NWFA’s adored mascot. As the NWFA team told cute stories on Woody, I couldn’t help but think there are a lot of “Woodys” out there who hold special places in the hearts of the homeowners who are also choosing furnishings and flooring for their homes.
Homeowners are now designing their own spaces around the needs of pets and are choosing products for their home that will live up to the daily wear of tiny (or large) paws. If you spend any time searching HGTV.com, Pinterest or Houzz you will easily find posted photos of “pet projects” which feature custom-tiled dog bathing areas, comfy indoor air-conditioned and heated kennels fit for a king or a King Charles Spaniel. Beyond “dog specific” areas, the human-occupied spaces also include custom details like built-in dog feeding areas within the kitchen cabinets and fashionable dog sofas and beds with cushions upholstered in colorfully patterned fabrics. Speaking of fabric, check out the expansive selection of upholstery fabrics by companies like Sunbrella, Crypton and other “performance” brands. For years, the family dog wasn’t allowed on the furniture becasue of the damage it could cause but now the upholstery choices are made based on what would be “pet friendly” and easily cleaned. Now the family dog might have its own sofa covered in Crypton fabric with designs by either “William Wegman” or “Thibaut”.
According to a 2015-2016 survey conducted by the APPA, sixty-five percent of U.S. households, or about 79.7 million families, own a pet. The pet industry is expected to surpass its $62 billion dollar record set in 2016 according to the American Pet Products Association. “The pet humanization trend is alive and well and continues to drive growth at the premium end of the market,” said Bob Vetere, CEO of APPA. “As millennials prepare to take the reins from the baby boomer generation as the primary demographic of pet owners, they stand to further develop this trend.” Pet owners are a very diverse group of consumers. Young singles, newly married couples, young familes, empty nesters, retired seniors are just some of the types who are dog owners. Regardless of the age or phase in life, dogs enhance our lives in some wonderful ways.Whether it’s young professionals or retired seniors who otherwise would live alone, they feel that owning a dog is an ideal solution. Pet ownership can provide for social opportunities with other pet owners. Pets, especially dogs, can help you connect with other people, helping reduce stress, loneliness and giving a sense of responsibility and sense of purpose which contributes to overall well-being.
We’ve witnessed the influx of “Pet Protect” carpet, resilient and WPC flooring over the past few years as the demand for products that perform has continued to grow. It goes without saying that stone, porcelain, ceramic tile, LVT, WPC are easier maintenance for cleaning up not only spills but also pet accidents and muddy paws. Don’t forget though that there are endless hardwood floor options which are incredibly durable and stand up to daily wear quite impressively. Aluminum oxide finishes have elimated a large percentage of typical surface scratches and current flooring trends happen to include many species like white oak and hickory species which are inherently harder than others. Further current hardwood trends such as low to zero-gloss, face-sawn, wire-brushed and various other hand-scraping techniques make for a very forgiving flooring aesthetic as compared to the higher gloss smooth wood floors of the twenty years ago. Suffice it to say, homeowners need not compromise on the style or quality of their hardwood floors if they have a dog to consider, merely to be cognizant of the wood species, the type of finish, UV or oil-rubbed, as well as adhering to the manufacturers recommended maintenance for cleaning.
As we move into this economy which follows the recent presidential election, we’ll continue to see the introduction of more and more pet services, pet-centric products and pet-home products. Hopefully we will also see more hardwood flooring companies provide comprehensive and relevant information to consumers on dog-friendly products.