why your dog needs a den

cc07-crate-cover

having our dogs share our personal space is one of the many joys of pet ownership.  from sleeping in bed with us to friendly bathroom visits, there is no denying that our dogs love being near us!  based on this behavior, it’s easy to assume that co-existing in our human spaces is best for the dog but that is not the case.  in reality, your dog needs a den.

why does my dog need a den?  it’s a dog, not a wolf…

believe it or not, your pup descended from a linage of wild canids that have been on this earth for millions of years but were only domesticated in the past few hundred years!  in turn our dogs have ancient wild instincts deep within them, including the instinct to burrow in dens.  (ever find your pup curled up in the corner of your closet when guests come over?  she’s not being rude, it’s instinctual.)  dens provide a safe refuge for your dog when she is stressed, tired or just needs to escape from the world, promoting both mental and physical wellness.

what is a den?  she already has a dog bed…

a dog den is so much more than a dog bed.  it is a sanctuary where our dogs can retreat to for quiet, rest and a sense of security.  unlike dog beds, dens are enclosed creating a true “home away from home” for our dogs.  dens should be placed out-of-the-way in the home’s common space, as they are not meant to isolate the dog but simply provide a personal and quiet refuge for her amongst her beloved humans.  this den should be off limits to other pets, children and family members, making a true sanctuary for canine r&r.  the easiest and most common form of a dog den is none other than the puppy favorite – a crate!

but crates are ugly…

yes, yes they are.  however, a true den is a place with shelter and walls that evokes a sense of enclosed security for your dog so they are indeed necessary to fulfill your dog’s innate desire to have den.  don’t fret, design diva! molly mutt crate covers are the perfect way to mask a dog crate and create a cozy (and even chic) den for your pup.  with over ten durable and gorgeous pattern options, you won’t have to sacrifice style to deck out this den! 

dog-friendly vacation spots for everyone

no matter where you take your dog, making time to be together and share new experiences is what matters most.  from luxury hotels to a night under the stars, whatever you choose is sure to (literally) thrill your dog and let him know just how much he matters to you.  below is a list of our favs, but be sure to make things easy by doing a little more online research, calling ahead to confirm policies and protect your car seats from scratches, fur and water spots with a new molly mutt car seat cover

four-star

head over to the dog-loving state of colorado for tons of luxury accommodation options that welcome dogs.  only a 2 hour drive from the denver international airport, the ritz-carlton bachelor’s gulch boasts spa treatments and guided hikes for your pooch.  or fly directly into aspen to enjoy a pampered stay at one of the many top-rated hotels that welcome dogs like hotel jerome or the st. regis aspen.

hotel

la quinta is a great mid-range hotel option that requires no deposit or fees to welcome dogs into their rooms.  with over 700 locations across the country, the odds are good there will be one near most large cities when you and your dog take that cross-country road trip you’ve been dreaming about.  (make post-road trip clean up a snap with a gorgeous, machine-washable car seat cover!)

airbnb

dog bark park inn & bnb: cottonwood, idaho (photo above)

this rental vacation home takes dog-friendly to another level with not one, but two, beagle-shaped structures on site.  located in rural idaho, the big dog sleeps up to four people with one bathroom and features expansive views of grain fields backdropped by the mountains.  perfect for a low-key getaway, this is when being “in the dog house” is a good thing!

camping

big sur riverside campground and cabins: big sur, california

a location made famous as the title of keroac’s novel, ‘big sur’ is located on the central coast of california where the santa lucia mountain range rises abruptly from the pacific ocean.  truly an american treasure this unincorporated town is home to some of the best camping in the USA, including the riverside campground and cabins.  at only $20 per night, you and your pup will have the choice of a furnished cabin, a rustic cabin or campgrounds appropriate for RVs or tents to enjoy this stunning part of the country.

for the dogs

should you want to treat your pup to a vacation that is all about him, travel + leisure magazine has compile a fantastic list of events and locations that are sure to give your dog perma-grin.  we suggest you check alaska off both of your bucket lists and show your dog why he is so special with a once in a lifetime trip to the iditarod!

color code: the secret meaning of colors

we live in a deliciously diverse world full of different cultures, languages and social contracts.  there are few things that are consistent across humanity.  mathematics are one, as 1 + 1 = 2 everywhere you go.  and another unifying (and arguably more fun) concept across the planet is color.  while a boy in spain will say ‘rojo’ and a boy in denver will say ‘red,’ they are both agreeing upon the same fiery color of strawberries and blood.  this allows colors to have deep historical and cultural roots, not to mention color is proven to have psychological affects on the human mind.  so before you select the color palette for you next design project, we feel like you should know what you’re getting into.  some of these fun facts you may know, others may cause the ‘more you know’ rainbow to shine bright. 

red

as established in the opener, red is the color of fire and blood.  a primary color, red is a dye found commonly in nature and has significant historical significance.  red is associated with strength and power making it a popular color in national flags (and ahem, dictator regimes) and is a universal sign of caution and danger.  red is also the color of love and desire, ironically claiming both valentine’s day and our world’s red-light districts.  red triggers impulse, too.  pay attention to those ‘buy buttons’, y’all.

designer profile: top-of-the-class charmers, bold bad-assess, those who are trouble with a capitol T

molly mutt pattern: lady in red

yellow

yellow is the color of the sun, which literally makes people happy via vitamin D.  the cheerful color stimulates the brain upon viewing, which is why attention-getting taxis and traditional highlighters are that color.  oddly, too much yellow has an adverse affect on the mind, so use this one judiciously.

designer profile: glass-half-fullers, lifelong wiz-kids, people who prefer accent colors

molly mutt pattern: lion’s roar and northwestern girls

orange

the energy of red + the happiness of yellow = enthusiastically determined orange.  a citrus color, it aligns with health as well as the fall harvest symbolizing abundance.  orange is also high visibility and is effective in promoting food products and toys.  plus nothing rhymes with orange.  (mic drop.)

designer profile: plant lovers, lifelong cheerleaders, people with a top-of-the-line juicer

molly mutt pattern: the boxer and amsterdam

green

green is the color of nature, combining the vibrancy of yellow with the coolness of blue.  representing fertility, harmony and growth, green is the most restful color to the human eye and can actually improve vision.  green is the opposite of red, representing safety and as such is often used in medical packaging and playgrounds.

designer profile: witches, zen masters, those who prefer being barefoot

molly mutt pattern: title track, dew in the grass and karma chameleon

blue

the color of both the sky and the sea (reflecting the sky), blue is associated with wisdom, confidence and stability, so it is no wonder that is it the chosen color of corporate America.  blue also represents purity, tranquility and cleanliness, and can be found on hygiene related products.  shown to increase metabolism and suppress appetite, restaurants and food products avoid using blue.  the color most favored by men according to years of studies, it is closely associated with masculinity.

designer profile: bosses of all types, manly men, tidy people

molly mutt pattern: romeo & juliet, new theory, weekend away and nightswimming

purple

kids love purple and no one really knows why.  maybe it is because they know it is uncommon in nature giving it a rare quality, associated with mystery and magic.  purple combines the materialism of red and the grounded nature of blue, making it an appropriate historic color for royalty.

designer profile: magicians, elusive rockers, queens of all kinds

molly mutt pattern: royals

inspired by song: our new ‘jitterbug’ pattern

Wake me up before you go go,

Don’t leave me hanging on like a yo-yo.

british pop duo Wham! exploded on to the UK and USA pop scene in 1984 with their inexplicably upbeat and catchy song ‘jitterbug (wake me up before you go-go)” which quickly climbed to the top of the charts.  in addition to the song, the signature dance performed by frontman george michael in the music video is now accepted as the quintessential dance of the 80’s, riffed on in nearly every john huston film and later by carlton on the fresh prince of belair.  jitterbug is also synonymous with the classic scene from zoolander where the excitement generated from the 80’s hit combined with “orange mocha frappacino” related elation results in a gasoline fight resembling a pillow fight.  we won’t tell you how it ends (#nospoilers), but needless to say this scene exposed younger generations to the glory that is the jitterbug. 

the boy duo, comprised of george michael and andrew ridgeley, went on to make other hits such as “last christmas” and GLBTQ anthem “freedom”, which featured the world’s top supermodels mouthing the lyrics in the video.  by their break-up in 1986, Wham! had sold 28 million records worldwide.  george michael went on to have a successful solo career, albeit controversial at times, up until he died of heart failure at the young age of 53 on Christmas day 2016, capping off what was a truly devastating year for musical legends.

as a lover of his music, molly knew she needed to pay homage to this incredible loss with a design.  the molly mutt pattern jitterbug emulates the chaotic exuberance of the 1980’s hit with a white line that jitters across a salmon-colored background, not unlike that of a jumping yo-yo.  (george wore a salmon sweatshirt in the video… no coincidence.)  the pattern is graphic, joyful and perfect for a home that embraces play (and dance parties)!  we tend to think george would have approved – we love you, george!

dogs and fireworks: 3 ways to plan for a calm 4th of July

visually delightful for humans, 4th of July fireworks are a source of anxiety for most dogs.  a few lucky breeds are in the minority, such as hunting dogs who are accustom to the sound of gun shots and smells of explosives, but generally speaking if you have a dog – they are going to lose it during fireworks. 

we realize ‘lose it’ is a loose term, so let me clarify.  the nervous behaviors dogs exhibit during firework displays are seemingly limitless.  from noticeable anxiety manifested in shaking and cowering to constant barking and destructive behavior, all dogs react differently to this loud independence day tradition.  remember that to your dog, fireworks are much more disruptive than thunder as it is closer to the ground and paired with bright light and smells.  the good news is there are a variety of ways to support your dog during this annual experience. 

avoidance

arrange to have your dog stay at a familiar alternative location such as a dog sitter’s home or doggy day care if you are setting off fireworks on your property.  if the alternative location is unfamiliar, make a few practice visits before the 4th of July stay.  this solution is fool-proof in that your dog never gets the chance to lost it, but it is only a short-term solution.

accommodation

if you are unable to take him to a firework-free location make a safe space within the quietest room of your home (likely the basement), so your dog can hideout when the booms begin.  a crate is ideal, but if you do not have one you can use furniture and blankets to create a den-like environment.  the sense of enclosure with naturally soothe him, as will calming reassurances that everything is going to be ok.  add in a special treat, his favorite toy, and a bed that smells like you and he will be set up for success!

acclimation

the very best way to prepare your dog for this annual occurrence is getting him used to the sound of fireworks, creating a positive association in your dog’s mind.  for 3-4 months prior to independence day, play a firework soundtrack increasing volume over time.  while this is the most time-consuming solution, acclimatizing your dog to loud noises is a long-term solution.  (if you are lucky enough to adopt a puppy you can start exposing them to loud noises at 3 months, so thunder, fireworks and other loud noises will not even phase them later in life!)

most importantly, during firework displays remain calm.  if you are anxious or reactionary to the fireworks, you will confirm your dog’s sense of fear and exacerbate the problem.  if at all possible keep things business as usual, supporting your dog with soothing reassurances and lots of love until the event is over… until next year.

room for everyone: how dogs and babies best coexist

there comes a time in many couples lives when they need to explain to their fur-babies, about human babies.  it can be a tough conversation, of which the realities won’t be fully comprehended until 24 hours after the human baby actually arrives in home.  not only does this new baby sister represent a new center of adoration and attention, she also produces very loud, non-barking noises at unpredictable times of day and night.  in sum, this household change can be a lot.  for everyone.  while sleepless nights are inevitable, sibling rivalry is not.  with a little planning and a few tricks, your dog and his new kid sister will be coexisting peacefully from day one.

preparation

long before human baby sister arrives, train and socialize your dog to improve his obedience, comfort with others, and sense of independence.  (if at all possible try not to welcome newborns into a home with an untrained dog, as it is not only challenging but can be unsafe.)  desensitize your dog to baby smells, sounds and routines with role-playing and socialization with friend’s infants and children.  additionally, the humane society of america created ‘preparing fido,’ a CD of baby noises, that will help normalize these new round-the-clock, non-barking noises.

boundaries

also well before the highly anticipated due date, create a den for your dog within the common area — corners being best.  (stop there, what is a ‘den?’)  work with your dog to sleep, play and rest in this space, making it a safe haven that he loves.  when baby girl becomes mobile, work with her to respect this space as “off limits” keeping your dog’s den (and toys) intact.  this can be difficult as a den looks an awful lot like a fort, so it’s up to you to maintain these important boundaries.

cardinal rules

these are non-negotiable, friends.  no matter how truly exceptional your dog and / or baby is.

    • make a non issue of introducing human baby girl to your fur baby.  with him leashed and calm, welcome him to sit by the family +1.  let him observe, in a low-pressure environment, until he feels more comfortable.  do that daily, then slowly graduate to sniffing and closer interaction.
    • create a ‘dog zone’ where he can play and relax and a ‘baby zone’ where she is safe, to use whenever needed.
    • do not leave babies or child alone with dogs.  tiny humans are not able to understand what will provoke even the most docile of dogs, so wait until they are grown for alone time.
    • seek professional help if you have concerns about your dog’s interaction with your children, family members or friends. 

up-cycled gifting

once sweet baby girl has grown out of her crib, let her give her new best friend (and the planet) a gift with the crib-e™, a chic and durable duvet that turns an unused crib mattress into a huge dog bed!

with preparation, clear boundaries and a few rules, you will be on you way to supporting the growing love between your dog and child.

want more?  we’re not experts but victoria stillwell is!

why your dog spins in circles before lying down & other nap trivia

our wonderful dogs: they are loyal, adorable and provide us with unconditional love.  but if we’re all honest, they’re behavior can be downright strange sometimes!  (endearingly strange, of course.)  for instance, nap time is one part of a dog’s daily life that brings out some odd habits that can leave us human’s a bit mystified.  we like to think of ourselves as ‘nap experts’ here at molly mutt and wanted to shed some light on your dog’s nap time quirks.

why does my dog sleep in the strangest places?

ever found your dog behind the toilet?  under a bookshelf in a space so small you can’t figure out how he got there?  yep, this is a thing.  no matter how much he loves his dog bed, you might find him occasionally holed up in an odd space due to the comfort it provides.  when dogs seek shelter or small spaces, they are instinctually recreating a ‘den.’ help your dog out with a crate cover (that is chic enough to keep in your living room) from molly mutt and build his den into your decor!

** molly mutt pro tip: darker pattern crate covers will keep the light out best when sleeping during the day for dogs who like to crash in closets.  choose a lighter patten for those dogs who love napping in sunny spots. **

why does he spin in circles (or scratch the bed) before getting comfortable?

this behavior is instinctual as well, going back to a time when dogs did not have ‘beds’ as they do now and would create soft places to sleep in nature by turning in circles and scratching the ground to clear the area.  modern farm dogs still need do this with loose hay when cozying up for the night barn, but the habit remains for many long domesticated breeds.  (this also explains why he may pull and nuzzle an unfolded blanket into a desirable shape before lying on it.)

do dogs dream and are they chasing rabbits?

it is widely believed that dogs can dream based on observation. in lieu of just being able to ask this question of our dogs, we turned to psychology today to provide some facts.  they note that brain wave patterns of sleeping dogs are consistent with those of human’s, suggesting dreaming is occurring.  additionally they site a study proving that rats, an animal with a smaller, less complex brain than dogs, dream about real-life activity based on memory.  (in the rats’ case: running a maze, in your dog’s case: chasing rabbits.)  finally, psychology today agrees that simple observation of your dog when sleeping can indicate a dream state. after about :20 minutes into your dog’s nap you may notice a change in his breathing, odd muscle twitches, and perhaps even see his eyes moving behind closed lids because he is actually looking at the dream images as if they were real images of the world. 

in sum yes, your dog is dreaming and likely about something he experiences in his daily life or even earlier that day!

while we can’t demystify all of the weird things our dogs do, we hope this helped explain a little bit about his napping behavior.  give your dog a durable and gorgeous backdrop to sleep on with a molly mutt dog bed: the dog bed dogs love! 

an ode to dog moms

at molly mutt, we had a thought, with you we’d like to share.

a mom is a mom, no matter what, even to those covered in hair.

mother’s day, is not a day, for moms of humans alone.

it is a day, to celebrate (even if barking prone).

from the love they give, to the support they show.

moms know what’s best, even when it’s ‘no-no.’

she washes the bed, when accidents occur.

and always takes you with her, like a personal chauffeur.

she’s strong and wise, and always kind (except when dad is late)

she is your mom, and loving you, is her chosen fate.

so raise a paw, to all the moms, for everything they do.

and since it is her special day, her shoes remain unchewed.

we know it’s different and don’t mean to be bold,

but we love dog moms, which is why we wrote this ode.

backyard zen: how to create an outdoor haven for you and your dog

take it outside

as wonderful as our homes are, spending time outdoors is undeniably good for wellbeing.  along with countless other benefits, is has been proven that moderate daily exposure to the sun improves bone density and can reverse the impacts of seasonal affective depression.  (not to mention the generally accepted fact that cocktails taste better on a patio.) 

being outside is also good for your dog!  it encourages them to exercise and engage with the world around them using their powerful sniffer, tiring them out both physically and mentally.  it is also a wonderful place to bathe and brush your dogs to cut down on inside mess.  so now that we have talked you into moving to your backyard for the coming months, let’s get to our very favorite thing: decorating!

elements of your outdoor haven

haven sounds a lot like heaven, huh?  and that is the aim here: to create an outdoor space that is truly heavenly! 

    • the yard – we know, we know, you probably didn’t want to hear this (unless you’re a lucky green thumb) but keeping your yard on point is critical to a backyard haven.  no one wants to chill in an overgrown jungle complete with broken terra-cotta planters… except maybe dickens’ ms. havisham.  so before you start picking out patio sets, tighten up the yard by trimming shrubs and hedges to a uniform height, raking / mowing the lawn, identifying the epicenter of your haven and taming weeds. 
    • safety first – keep your design kiddo and pet-friendly with these simple tips.
      • no harmful pesticides: skip harsh sprays and substitute vinegar for toxic weed killers + more solutions from the experts below.
      • no poisonous / dangerous plants: although beautiful, both amaryllis and begonias, along with countless other flowers and plants, can be harmful to pets and humans.  as a rule of thumb: always research before you plant. 
      • boundaries: edging landscaped areas with a substantial material like driftwood will help keep pets and littles out..
      • paw / feet-friendly: if using stones, choose smooth flagstone or river rock to limit potential scrapes.  if you prefer mulch, small cedar chips are easy on skin but large enough that they won’t stick to fur.x
    • the vibe – starting with an overall feeling you would like to achieve with your outdoor design is a great way to help you hone the decor.  for example should you want to feel vibrant and eclectic, channel an ornate and colorful moroccan spice market and pair with ethnic touches like the ‘elephant parade’ duvet.  or if you prefer a sense of comfort and ease, welcome in a light an bright palette and the nautical ‘weekends-away’ duvet creating a backyard beach cottage.  once you know how you want the space to make you feel, you will know what kind of decor you will need.
    • the decor – now that the canvas is clean and the vibe is set, it’s time to decorate!  based on the feeling you want your space to evoke, select appropriate base and accent colors to keep you focused when hunting for decor. chose a style of furniture based on that vibe, too.  while a traditional patio set may be appropriate for the comforting cottage, the vibrant moroccan design may call for a low-to-the ground table and bright cushions.  be sure to carve out a unique space for your dog(s) to ensure they feel at home in the new space complete with a bed appropriate for outdoor use.  molly mutt developed water-resistant duvets in a selection of patterns ideal for outdoor use.  however, all of our duvets can be paired with a water-resistant armor to shield against the elements, wet paws and accidents.  our durable duvets come in a variety of patterns sure to compliment any vibe!
    • money ain’t a thang – what matters most when creating your outside haven is that great design comes at all price points.  fabulous finds can come from creative upcycling, goodwill or the alley just as easily as jonathan adler.  so don’t let money be an excuse, get creative and turn your backyard into a place you love to be.  (molly mutt is all about up-cycling, so before you toss it ask yourself: could i re-purpose this in the backyard?)

the experts

good housekeeping: 13 homemade organic weed killers that really work

hgtv: outdoor design ideas for any budget

diy network: 10 outdoor rooms on a budget

inspired by song: celebrating dire straits with lattice pattern dog bed

a song so iconic that it has been covered by the killers and the indigo girls alike, “romeo & juliet” by dire straits retells shakespeare’s best-known tragedy.  in this upended version, romeo (frontman mark knopfler) pines after a flighty juliet (his ex-girlfriend) who writes him off as “just another one of [her] deals.”  the grammy winning brit band released the single in 1981 and it has appeared on 90’s soundtracks such as empire records and can’t hardly wait.

opening with a gentle guitar melody similar to the opening chords of their biggest hit “sultans of swing,” the instrumentation is simple during the verses and builds to a rock arrangement during the chorus.  these quiet verses transport the listener to a simpler time (perhaps 16th century verona) where images of a vines crawling up a stone balcony and latticed windows creep into their subconscious.  as the narrative unfolds the deep love and heartbreak of the singer becomes apparent, not unlike that of romeo’s when he believes his beloved has taken her own life. 

although this classic play is traditionally read in high school english it becomes increasingly relevant as we grow up and experience our own epic loves, heartbreaks and losses.  often those that are most supportive, don’t come in human form.  for some, our dogs are our greatest loves and losses in life.  what matters most are those quiet moments spent together, looking out the window at the sky, feeling content.

our “romeo & juliet” duvet pattern features a deep blue behind a white lattice pattern, resembling the window that romeo & juliet first met under.  this pattern is classic, like a shakespearean play, and one of our most popular, like romeo & juliet.  and we promise that your pup will be smitten with the eco-friendly design that encourages you to up-cycle old garments and linens for the duvet stuffing.  its familiar smell will remind your pup daily of the lifelong romance you two share, just like their contented face when they sleep will remind you.

meet the dogs with a love for this pattern that lives up to its name: romeo & juliet

(in order: @adventures.of.roxy.and.zoey, @nikkii.j.cullen, @prestonjenkinsiii, @joyfulgolden, @baxterthebossydachshund, @littlemissveda)

things you’ ll want to do after reading this blog post:

buy the duvet

watch the song performed live (yes, there is a keytar involved)

re-experience the amazing fish tank scene between claire and leo circa 1996

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