Pet-Friendly Garage Ideas and Benefits for Fur-Tastic Living

Reading time: 17 minutes

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Pet ownership is at an all-time high in the U.S.

66% of American households own a pet, according to the latest data from the American Pet Products Association. That’s 26% higher than the percentage of U.S. homes with children!

Dogs are by far the most popular type of pet. As of 2022, data shows that dogs reside in 44.5% of American homes, compared to 29% for cats.

Our pets are more than just animals. They’re cherished family members who we try to provide with the utmost love, comfort, and care in our homes.

An often-overlooked part of the home that can be turned into a pet-friendly space is the garage. Well-designed garages can be very useful for pet owners by adding extra functionality to the home. 

All it takes is a little creativity and some modifications to create a pet-friendly garage that’s safe, comfortable, and enjoyable for your furry friends.

The practicality of a pet-friendly garage

Although most pets spend the majority of their time in the main living area of a house, there are a few reasons to give the garage some attention as a space for pets to use more.

The controlled environment of a properly set up garage is safer and more secure than most backyards. Some dog owners find out the hard way how skilled their pets are at jumping, climbing, digging, or chewing through things when their seemingly secure fenced-in yard can’t hold them. Backyard gates accidentally get left open all the time, which is all it takes for a dog to make a run for it. That’s one reason 10 million pets go missing in North America every year, according to the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society.

In combination with good training, the garage is a part of the home where pets can enjoy more independence and provide their owners with the peace of mind that their pets are safe, even when they aren’t around.

Another reason to use a garage more for your pet care needs is that garages are typically underutilized in ways that can better serve the lifestyles of their owners. Taking care of one or more pets is certainly a part of someone’s lifestyle, so why not take advantage of what a garage offers to help out? 

Traditional perceptions about garages have evolved

The idea of keeping a pet in the garage for extended periods may not appeal to a lot of dog and cat owners. We understand why if someone is picturing how garages have typically looked for decades – drab, cluttered, dusty, and dark. That’s not exactly a hospitable environment for anyone...even humans!

Modern garages that have been finished and remodeled are a completely different story, however. For proof, take a look at this gallery of incredible garage remodels showcasing some of the thousands of projects Garage Living has completed in the last two decades.

Our garage designs capture the style and aspirations of their owners, creating extraordinary spaces that reflect and enhance your unique lifestyle. By harmonizing the functionality and aesthetics of the garages we transform, Garage Living can maximize the space’s potential to improve the living quality for every member of the family – including the furry ones. 

8 practical uses for a pet-friendly garage

man petting dog in garage

Now that we’ve established why pet-friendly garages are so practical, let’s take a look at some specific ways a thoughtfully designed garage can become a more useful home space for pet owners:

1. For when guests come over

Visitors to your home might be uncomfortable around pets or have pet-related allergies. Alternatively, some pets may not be comfortable or well-behaved when strangers visit. In such cases, the garage is an ideal place to put them instead of the backyard or another room.  

2. As a pet grooming space

By nature, garages are built for rugged use, including dealing with everything from daily foot and vehicle traffic to storage. Well-designed garages are made with durable, low-maintenance materials. These characteristics are tailor-made to use the garage as a mudroom or pet grooming space because it can handle a little dirt, water, and discarded pet hair. These types of spaces are also useful for cleaning a dog after a walk.

3. As a dog daycare alternative

Some homeowners may not want to keep their dog(s) unsupervised inside their home while they’re away during the day. A new dog may not be fully housetrained yet or perhaps an older dog has mischievous tendencies. Instead of paying to use a dog daycare service several times a week (which involves a lot of driving to drop a dog off and pick them up), it’s more convenient to modify a garage to provide much of the same functionality for dogs that are okay with being left alone. 

4. As an obedience training room

The same reasons that make the garage an ideal pet grooming space are what also make it perfect for anyone who wants to do their own dog obedience training. Even an empty single-car garage provides enough space to train a puppy or older dog.  

5. For a time-out space

Sometimes a disobedient dog needs a time-out, which is an effective way to curtail undesirable behavior. Time-outs shouldn’t last any more than about 15-20 minutes as a general rule. As an alternative to putting a misbehaving dog in a spare room or bedroom, the garage can be used. A garage time-out space is also more comfortable for a dog than putting them outside when it's freezing cold or uncomfortably hot, especially if the room is climate-controlled.

6. As a dog play space

Playing with a dog strengthens an owner’s bond with it, is good for the pet’s health (by keeping them active and providing mental stimulation), and lets dogs release their pent-up energy. Playing and roughhousing with some types of dogs (especially bigger ones) can take a toll on hardwood floors and cause a little more mayhem than some rooms can handle. Try using the garage as a dog playspace instead.

7. For anyone who uses a garage or yard regularly

If you spend a lot of time working in the garage or yard and enjoy having your pets with you, that’s one more reason to make the room more pet-friendly. With the right changes, your four-legged friends can wander around the garage freely without any worries about their safety.

8. For dogs who frequently ride in vehicles

Some pet owners regularly bring their dogs along on car trips. Dogs who enjoy accompanying their owners on trips will be spending more time than the average dog in the garage, which increases the importance of making the room more pet-friendly.

The great crate debate

Before we explore some more pet-friendly garage ideas, we thought it was important to mention dog crates (which are also referred to as kennels and cages).

Dog and cat crating has become increasingly popular and is a widely accepted practice in the U.S. and Canada. They’re seen as an effective training tool for house-training puppies. The benefits of dog crate training are supported by many in the following professions and organizations:

  • veterinarians
  • dog trainers
  • animal welfare organizations
  • dog breeders
  • animal behavior experts 

In addition to the functionality they offer for training pets and travelling with them, crates can also be used in the home as a space where dogs and cats can rest, as long as they’ve had the proper training. Crates are well-suited to a dog’s natural “denning instinct” to seek shelter in a small space where they feel comfortable and safe.

A crate could be set up in the garage with its door left open to allow pets to roam around the room at their leisure. When it’s time to rest, they’ll have complete access to a safe, familiar space. Dogs typically avoid soiling an area close to where they sleep, which is another practical reason to consider using a crate.

Despite the popularity of pet crates, the use of them seems to be a very divisive issue, especially among dog owners. Crate haters believe the practice is inhumane because they confine animals to a small enclosed space and make it easier for irresponsible owners to neglect their pets.

When crates are used properly and responsibly, they can be an effective pet care tool. Misusing crates is not in a pet owner’s best interests because research shows this typically makes a pet behave worse. For example, they should never be used when a dog is being punished because the animal will develop a fear of the crate.

10 pet-friendly garage ideas

dog resting on floor

Garages present a few challenges to make them a safe and comfortable enough environment for pets to stay in with or without their owner around.

These pet-friendly garage ideas are a little more practical for households with dogs, but cat owners may find some of these ideas and uses beneficial, too.

The garage won’t be a suitable environment for every dog or cat. After learning more about what goes into creating a pet-friendly garage space and how it can function, decide whether or not these changes are right for your pets.

1. Prioritize garage safety

Just as we childproof our homes for the safety of our children, it’s important to pet-proof a garage as well. Start by inspecting the room for any potential dangers, such as any of the following common garage hazards:

  • toxic chemicals (examples: stored fuel, antifreeze, cleaning supplies, lawn care products, and car fluid leaks)
  • sharp objects (examples: yard care tools, power tools, and hand tools)  
  • falling hazards (examples: items leaning against walls and wall-hung items that aren’t firmly secured)
  • chewing hazards (examples: spare tires, power cords, hoses, and bungee cords)
  • electrical hazards (examples: exposed wires, overloaded circuits, and ungrounded outlets) 

ASPCA pet dangers in garage infographic

Infographic from ASPCA

To ensure the well-being of your pets, install proper storage systems to keep potentially hazardous items out of reach. If necessary, install safety gates or barriers to keep your pets from accessing dangerous areas in the garage. Consider adding a smart security camera in the garage so you can monitor pets remotely via a smartphone.

For the safety of everyone living under your roof, it’s a good idea to give your garage doors and door opener system an inspection and test at least once a year. Verify that their parts and components are in good condition and operating smoothly. Double-check that the door sensors are correctly aligned and that the doors properly reverse when they’re closing if an obstruction is detected.

Modern vehicles produce much less carbon monoxide than they used to. Even still, carbon monoxide levels are still something anyone keeping pets in a garage should be concerned about. Never operate a vehicle in an enclosed garage with a pet present. If you’re used to warming up a vehicle in the garage for longer periods on cold days, adjust your routine if a pet is around.

2. Declutter and create more space with storage upgrades

A cramped, over-cluttered garage not only makes the room harder to use for parking and storage, it also makes it a less practical space for pets to use.

A recent Stanley Black & Decker “Take Back Your Garage Survey” found that 52% of people with a garage aren’t satisfied with how it’s organized. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said the garage was their home’s most cluttered space. Another recent OnePoll survey for The Container Store shows that the garage was the most difficult storage area of the home to keep organized.

After eliminating as much clutter as possible, establish a solid foundation for more efficient garage space management by investing in smart storage systems like slatwall, storage cabinets, shelves, and overhead racks.

Slatwall is ideal for storing the majority of items in a garage, including pet-related items like leashes, collars, brushes, and towels. This wall storage system reduces or eliminates floor clutter, keeps the space well-organized, and creates ample space for pets. Slatwall is versatile enough to store everything from yard tools and sports equipment (including bikes) to cleaning supplies. Garage Living’s LINEA line of premium slatwall accessories even has a locking system to prevent hung items from shifting or falling.


Storage cabinets are essential for garages that pets will be occupying frequently. Lockable cabinet doors and drawers are the best way to protect kids and pets from some of the most common garage hazards. Cabinets can store a multitude of things, including the following items:

  • pet food and supplies
  • sharp tools
  • power tools
  • fertilizers and pesticides
  • car and house cleaning supplies
  • garbage and recycling bins
  • paints and solvents

3. Upgrade insulation, climate control, and ventilation

A comfortable environment is crucial for a pet's well-being, which means most garages will need a little work to bring them up to the standard needed for pets to use.

Adequate door, wall, and ceiling insulation is a good first step toward making a garage more comfortable for pets. Even in homes without pets, good insulation is practical for any garage because it improves a home’s energy efficiency year-round. Insulation also absorbs sound, which reduces barking noises to any ears outside a garage.

Garage insulation upgrades alone won’t be enough to keep pets comfortable if you live in a climate with extreme temperature changes. You may need to add a heating and/or cooling system to maintain comfortable garage temperatures for your pets. A space heater and portable air conditioner might work for your needs, but they’ll be less reliable and efficient than proper room climate control systems.

While it is more expensive to have a climate-controlled garage, the investment does offer some additional benefits for homeowners. Trips between the garage and home will be more comfortable when it’s scorching hot or freezing cold outside. Year-round garage climate control also makes the room more viable as a home hobby space.

Better ventilation improves a garage’s comfort level. Most garages have poor air quality due to excess dust, ancient building materials, and the lack of an adequate ventilation system. Dedicated garage ventilation systems come in a range of budgets. Even opening some garage windows when the weather is nice will freshen up the space for pets.

4. Make the garage floor more pet-friendly


A durable, low-maintenance polyaspartic floor coating is ideal for garages used by pets.

The right flooring is another important element to consider for pets using a garage. The vast majority of garage floors are uncoated concrete that wears down over time, leaving fine particles and dust. Bare concrete is also porous, so it absorbs stains and odors. That’s obviously not ideal for a space where pet potty accidents are inevitable. 

Durability and easy maintenance are vital for floors pets will be walking, resting, and playing on. The best option for any garage’s floors is a high-quality polyaspartic floor coating.

A floor protection solution like Garage Living’s Floortex™ floor coating provides a clean, low-maintenance foundation for garages that is ideal for dogs and cats. Pet hair, dander, dirt, dust, and pet waste are easy to clean up. Auto fluid leaks can be easily wiped up, which makes the room safer for pets. The decorative flakes used with the coating also effectively mask surface debris and add a stylish design touch to a garage.

The floor coating’s hard surface prevents scratching from pet claws, but you’ll naturally want to provide pets with a more comfortable surface to rest on along with the soft bedding they probably use. An easy-to-clean outdoor rug, rubber mats, and vinyl mats are all viable options.

5. Improve the lighting

Most of these pet-friendly garage ideas and upgrades are beneficial to both pets and their owners, including making improvements to the room’s lighting. Poor garage lighting is a hallmark of unfinished garages, along with outdated storage systems and cracked, drab grey concrete floors.

Even though dogs and cats can see better than us in low-light environments, making lighting upgrades is another step that makes the garage safer for everyone by illuminating potential hazards more effectively. This can be particularly important for older pets or those with vision problems.

Good garage lighting helps you maintain a clean and hygienic environment for your pets. With better visibility, any messes are more noticeable and can be quickly cleaned up. Additionally, good lighting helps deter pests and makes them easier to spot.

Just like humans, pets benefit from getting regular exposure to natural light. Natural light and lighting that mimics sunlight can improve our mood and energy levels. Try to allow as much natural light into the garage as possible using windows, a skylight, and garage doors with translucent panels.

Better garage lighting will help improve the room’s overall comfort level and give it a more inviting appearance. Along with some additional remodel upgrades, garages can feel more like part of a home’s livable space and not like the separate, utilitarian space we’ve viewed them as for ages.

6. Create a pet corner with the right creature comforts

dog sleeping on pillow

Personalize your pet’s space in the garage with things that make them feel more comfortable.

Now that the garage is set up to be more accommodating for pets, it’s time to designate a specific area as their primary space. Many dogs favor the corners of rooms to rest because it helps them feel more secure.

Wherever you choose, the goal is to create a cozy space that’s functional, safe, and feels like a sanctuary. Make sure the area is relatively quiet, well-ventilated, and as far away from moving vehicles as possible.

Comfortable bedding is a must, but the materials should also be durable and easy to wash. Set up food and water bowls or a feeding station on easy-to-clean mats.

Personalize the space with items your pets love, such as chew toys for dogs and a scratching post for cats.

Keeping all your pet supplies close to the main space they use is practical and convenient and gives pets a greater sense of security. Garage Living’s cabinets are customizable, so the needs of your pets can be factored into how the cabinet system is designed. For example, one or more cabinets could be designated as storage for pet supplies, or perhaps a couple of shelves in a taller locker-style cabinet.

7. Acclimate your pet to the garage properly

If you’re comfortable with using the garage as a space for your pet(s), get them gradually used to spending more time in the room. It may take some time for a pet to feel completely comfortable in a new home area. Pets typically need some time to create a positive association with a new environment.

cute dog sitting on garage floor

To help make a smoother adjustment, try to maintain a regular routine for feeding and watering. Pets appreciate consistency with their care from their owners.

Many dogs get separation anxiety when their guardians leave the home. To ease their anxiousness when you have to go out, avoid being too demonstrative by showing any signs of sadness. They’ll associate you leaving them alone in the garage as a negative thing and it will take them longer to feel comfortable in the space.

8. Set up a pet grooming station and dog-washing station


Garages are one of the most practical areas of the home to set up a dog-washing station. 

Setting up a pet grooming station in the garage can streamline grooming tasks and keep your home cleaner. The garage is an ideal area of the house to groom pets, especially if you get a remodel from Garage Living. Our polyaspartic flooring completely seals floors to protect them from water damage and our slatwall panels are made with PVC, which is very resilient and easy to keep clean.

A home pet grooming station is practical even if you only do the simplest of grooming tasks yourself, such as washing your dog. Many pet grooming companies offer mobile service, so it’s even more convenient and efficient if you have an in-home grooming space already set up.

A garage dog-washing station is useful for cleaning up muddy paws and fur after walks and involves using a bathing tub or shower. To avoid having to lift big dogs into a waist-high bathing tub, invest in a model with steps or an electrical scissor lift design.

All of your pet grooming supplies can be stored within close reach in cabinets and on the slatwall’s shelf, hook, rack, and basket hanging accessories.

9. Create a dog-walking station

A dog-walking station is another natural fit for the garage, particularly if a dog-washing station is set up. It ensures a smooth, efficient process every time you take your dog out and helps keep your time tidier.

Add a small bench or stool to make it a little easier for you and your dog when you’re getting them ready for their walk and removing their gear afterwards. Consider using a bench with built-in storage to further maximize the garage’s storage space.

Once again, smartly planned storage allows everything needed for dog-walking to be conveniently kept in one spot, including leashes, collars, harnesses, poop bags, dog apparel, treats, and toys.

10. Keep the garage clean

A clean garage is a more pet-friendly garage. Garages tend to be the last room in the home we give attention to when it’s time to clean, but that can’t be the case if pets use the room regularly.

dog and child playing on clean garage floor

Maintaining a clean garage is essential for the health and happiness of your pets. It’s harder for parasites to survive in clean environments, which can help prevent health issues for pets.

Sweep and mop the garage floors every week, wash pet bedding regularly, and keep litter boxes clean. Proper cleanliness will also deter pests from invading your pet’s living space.

If you’re leaving a dog in the garage for several hours or more while you go out, leave enough time to give them a walk or let them out in the backyard to do their business before you depart.

Put down pee pads to make cleanups easier. Another option is to buy a higher-quality product that’s specifically made to handle pet waste. We found everything from a $120 portable pet toilet that consists of a 3' x 3' raised platform with artificial turf and a removable waste container to the more expensive Quick N' Clean Garage Kennel, which has a clever built-in disinfectant and cleaning system.

Give your garage a paw-sitive transformation

Transforming your garage into a pet-friendly haven is a wonderful way to enhance your pets' lives, while providing them with a safe and comfortable environment. 
Garage Living prides itself on creating beautiful, highly functional garages that are customized for the lifestyles of any homeowner. If pets are a part of your lifestyle, these pet-friendly garage ideas can cater to all of their needs (and yours, too).

Schedule a free consultation with us to get started on creating your pet-friendly garage design.

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