My husband (Adam) and I recently welcomed a new member into our household… our handsome black lab-mix rescue dog, Hunter. He’s everything Labrador;  fun energy, a zest for pleasing his people, and tennis ball-obsessed. One of the best things about him is he’s full-grown and only 35 pounds! Adam and I have always grown up with animals, but we have been without a dog in our home for 5 years. We immediately fell in love with Hunter at the San Francisco SPCA. He was (at the time) 14 months-full-of-energy and in need of structure and love. We were just the people for him, and he the dog for us!Hunter bow tie

Now, with a new pet like Hunter comes a new level of responsibility and LOTS OF NEW STUFF! He has his bed, his toys, his grooming supplies, his treats, his food…. And all of these things needed a home, too. After the bombardment of supplies slowed down, I took the opportunity to get them organized by following these steps:

  1. Assess
  2. Group/Sort
  3. Shop
  4. Place and Label
  5. Give It a Home

Step 1: Assess

How many dog items do we actually have that need a home? The first step is to get everything together in one place (I used my covered kitchen table). Dog items

Step 2: Group/Sort

Next, I took a few minutes to group (or sort) the like and similar items together in piles/categories. This gives me a visual of how much I have of certain types of items, and I can visualize how much storage space I will need. As you can see, I have items used for: Travel, Walks, Care, NEW Toys, and Special Treats. This makes 5 categories total. We have his other everyday toys in a basket near his doggie bed, and his daily food in a critter-proof container outside.

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 Step 3: Shop

Now that I can clearly see that I have 5 categories total, I know that I need to find a storage solution that has 5 separate compartments. I don’t own this type of storage solution, so off to a general retail store I go – I prefer Target, since it’s close to my house and I know the store well. BEFORE you leave, scope out the ideal place where the storage will be kept. You may need to take dimensions of the space to the store, so grab a measuring tape. I found the perfect 5-drawer plastic storage container at Target. The depth of the drawer will allow for enough space, and will fit in my ideal space perfectly.5-drawer plastic container

Step 4: Place and Label

Once home, I began putting the items in the drawers in a logical order that makes since to ME and ADAM. We are tall, and will use the walking items most frequently, so the Walk drawer will be the top drawer. This ‘placing’ process, needs to work well for each human in the household.

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Once you have the right order for the items, now you get to label. Labeling the drawers not only helps you, but helps any house sitters or visitor that may need to find the pet’s items quickly. Although I have a label maker, I tend to go for quick and easy in my home. I grabbed my permanent markers in different colors, and my sticky labels. Bold, short, one-to-two word labels work best.

Step 5: Give It a Home

Now, that the items are in the perfectly labeled drawer, it’s time to place the storage in it’s ideal location. This location may be different for you than it is for Adam and I. We know that we access these items multiple times per day, so having the storage in a convenient location is best for our home. It just happens to be next to Adam’s ridiculous DVD collection… As you can see, I put his “Good Dog!” dog biscuits on top in a air-tight coffee container. We access these regularly, and the container wasn’t going to fit in any drawer.


Final Thoughts…

As with any organizing project, remember that it’s ok to adjust and re-visit if the process isn’t completely working for you. Although this process is geared toward Hunter’s dog items, it can also be used for kids toys, family games, and other projects. The organizing process is about you, your household, or your space. Your kids can be involved in every step of this process, as well! From gathering, to sorting, to bedazzling labels – organizing is kid friendly to and it gives the kids more accountability as well.

Get Organized. Be EMPOWERED!

– Jessica Elix