Decks are meant for the whole family to enjoy. For many families, this means dogs and cats as well as children – not to mention more exotic animals like iguanas and guinea pigs. Here are some points to keep in mind for truly pet-friendly deck design:
Have a plan to keep your pets on the porch: There is no amount of animal training that will result in your pet reliably staying on the deck 100% of the time. There are just too many tempting distractions, including neighborhood dogs that want to play, cars to chase, and strange smells and sounds that demand investigation. Having a gate that closes will provide some measure of containment, but be aware that dogs can jump much higher than you think and a gate will do nothing to keep cats in.
Shade and shelter are a priority: A pet shouldn’t be left unattended on the deck for any prolonged period of time, but if you do, make sure your pet has shade and shelter. The sun in the Metrowest area can be brutal, and rainstorms do happen, even when the weather forecast says they won’t. Having a shelter also gives your pets a place to hide from predatory birds and neighborhood animals that may want to get too close.
Food and water stations: Your pet needs continual access to fresh food and water. Your Metrowest deck builder can integrate a food and water station into the deck design to allow your pet metered amounts of food and water. Many of these systems can be shut off when your pet is indoors, which keeps your deck from becoming an all-you-can-eat buffet for neighborhood animals and birds.
A word about the bathroom: Pets need to go to the bathroom, and they can’t necessarily wait until they get back inside with their litterbox. Set up a litterbox for cats and other small animals outdoors; have a plan in place to allow the dog to access the yard as needed.