Does your dog spend its time scrabbling at the foot of the couch or simply crying next to it? Do you frequently find that the toy basket is empty, but you can’t find any of the toys? Do you frequently watch as your dog knocks a tennis ball under the sofa? Toys under the couch can be problematic. They’re often hard to retrieve, and dogs can become distraught when they cannot get to their toys. They also result in a lot of time spent on hands and knees trying to sweep toys back into the room with a broom or other implement.
The ideal solution is to find a way to prevent them from going under there in the first place. Luckily, there are a lot of options that will help. They include both off-the-shelf products you can buy at the store or online and do-it-yourself solutions for the craftier pet owner. Some solutions work better than others, but all of them will help to prevent as many lost toys as you may currently experience.
Related: Outdoor Dog Toys
Toys under the couch is a sufficiently common problem that several companies have developed products specifically to help alleviate the problem. The specifics of each company’s method are slightly different, but they all share the common goal of blocking toys from getting too far under the couch so that your dog can reach them even when they roll there. Below is a selection of products that are available for sale.
One popular product for preventing reverse fetch is Gap Bumper. It is a durable fabric strip that wraps around the legs of your couch to create a flexible barrier below the sofa. It is appropriate for most standard sofas. However, if the gap below the couch is less than 2 ½ inches or more than 5 inches, it may be a good idea to research another solution.
The way Gap Bumper works is simple. Each end of the fabric strip wraps around the leg of the couch and hooks back onto itself by using a pre-installed metal hook. Attaching the bumper creates a barrier to prevent toys from going beneath the sofa.
Gap Bumper comes in 10-foot lengths that are 2 ½ inches wide. The manageable length allows you to connect multiple Gap Bumpers to cover couches of various sizes. The two-and-a-half-inch width covers the majority of gaps below standard sofas. Most industry-standard couches have floor gaps of 3 inches high. This measurement leaves half an inch of space, and most toys won’t fit through an opening that small.
Gap Bumper is black so that it blends with the shadows beneath the couch. The company makes Gap Bumper of durable material to block even the most rapidly traveling objects.
Bowerbird Toy Blockers
Bowerbird Toy Blockers provide a great way to avoid toys under the couch. Their plexiglass construction makes them sturdy and damage resistant, while their no-mark adhesive makes them easy to remove, replace, and clean.
They also come in two sizes for differing floor gaps. The smaller size is 1.6 inches, and you can trim them for shorter sofas. The larger size is 3.2 inches for couches with longer legs. Each section is 16 inches long, and they come in sets of five, so for each group purchased, you receive 80 inches of coverage.
The installation is made simple with double-sided adhesive tape. Line up sections an inch or two under your sofa until you’ve covered the necessary area. The pieces are also transparent so that they won’t be as noticeable.
One more off-the-shelf solution comes from Pet Blockers. These take yet another approach to keeping toys from under the couch. They are long, flexible, stuffed fabric tubes that bend to cover the perimeter of the sofa. For installation, they bend to fit and slide into place.
Like other options, they manufacture Pet Blockers so that they are less visible. They are colored black so that they blend into the shadows under the couch.
Pet Blockers come in sections that are five inches in diameter and 125 inches long. This length gives a wide range of customizability because they are so flexible. Use more than one for substantial furniture. They are of memory foam construction with a microfiber shell. This construction allows them to bend in any place along their length. Their construction makes them both durable and easy to clean with a vacuum and a damp washcloth.
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For the handier or more independent dog owner, there are also do-it-yourself options available. They range from behavioral changes to small-scale construction projects. It all depends on your skill level which option with which you’ll be most comfortable, but there are options for people across the range of skills.
Avoid Rolling Toys Indoors
The first option isn’t foolproof but can cut down on under-couch clutter. The most frequent culprits for toys under the couch are those that roll. They include tennis balls, Kongs, and baseballs, among other round objects. It’s easy for these to get out of control and keep rolling until they land in some dark corner under a piece of furniture. So, one option for avoiding this problem is to limit rolling toys to use outdoors. You can still use other toys like ropes and tugs indoors because they’re less likely to roll away and be buried. Keep in mind that this option only cuts down on the under-couch toy problem. It doesn’t completely resolve it.
Related: Dog Toys
Pipe Insulation or Pool Noodles
You can purchase another great solution at your local hardware store. Pipe insulation, sometimes also sold as pool noodles, offers a quick and easy possibility to block the space below the couch. The pipe insulation sold at the hardware store is usually dark gray, so it may be a better choice than pool noodles when it comes to encouraging concealment.
In any case, the first step is to measure the space where you’ll be placing your new toy blocker. Remember that pipe insulation only comes in select sizes, so huge gaps may make this method obsolete. Measure the width and depth of the sofa to determine what length you’ll need to purchase.
Also, measure the gap between the bottom of the couch and floor to determine the appropriate diameter for the insulation pieces. Depending on this measurement, it may be necessary to use two pieces of insulation per length, tucked inside one another. Double layering the foam is easy to do. There is a pre-scored line along the length of the insulation. Split this open and stuff the second length of insulation inside.
Once you’ve done the necessary calculations, head to the hardware to pick up supplies. Once you get back, the fun starts. Cut the insulation pieces to fit along the perimeter of your couch and tuck them underneath. Ideally, there will be some pressure as you install these, which will keep them from moving when a toy or pet hits them. Once installed, toys should bounce off the foam and wind up in front of the couch instead of under it.
While this solution will work in several cases, it’s unlikely to be useful for couches with very large gaps between the bottom of the couch and the floor. So, this option is best used with furniture with lower clearances. In those cases, however, it’s a very practical toy blocker.
Nylon Webbing or Strips of Fabric
Inspired by Gap Bumper, this option is also relatively simple. It’s a helpful option for furniture with legs. Nylon webbing can be acquired online or at the fabric store and comes in various colors. It’s probably best to go with something dark, so it remains well hidden under the couch. The great thing about this material is that it comes in various widths and you can cut it to any length you need.
The first step is to take measurements of the furniture to be toy-proofed. Take measurements of the couch’s perimeter along the legs and the distance between the bottom of the couch and the floor. You’ll want to purchase webbing that covers most of the gap below the sofa. You’ll also want to get sufficient length that it covers slightly more than the length of the sofa’s perimeter. The extra length will be necessary for attachment.
When you’ve purchased sufficient webbing to cover your furniture, take it home and unroll it. Take one end of the webbing and make a loop around the left rear leg of the furniture in question. Use a safety pin to pin the webbing to itself to secure the loop around the leg of the furniture. Next, pull the webbing tightly around the other four legs. Once you’ve reached the other rear leg, make another loop and pin the webbing to itself. Cut off the excess. You’ve just toy-proofed your first piece of furniture! Repeat the process with each piece of furniture you want to keep toy-free.
Another fabric option is to create a skirt for the piece of furniture. A skirt has the advantage of being possible to use on couches with varying gap heights. The disadvantage is that it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, matching fabric to an existing piece of furniture can be very challenging, so you may end up with a skirt that’s a different color than the furniture itself. A better strategy than matching may be to pick a fabric that’s complementary to the couch. Note that this option requires some skill at sewing, along with access to a sewing machine.
For this option, you’ll need the standard measurements. Measure the length and depth of the couch to determine the size of fabric required. Measure the gap between the bottom of the sofa and the floor to determine the width to which you’ll need to cut it. Purchase sufficient material for coverage.
Cut the fabric into strips of the appropriate width. Fold over the edges and sew a seam along each side to create a clean edge. Cut the strip to the correct length to cover three sides of the couch. If it’s necessary to add more length, you can sew additional strips to the end of the piece.
Once the pieces have been cut and seamed, begin on the left rear side of the couch and safety pin one edge of the fabric to the sofa’s fabric. Be careful to keep the edge level and work your way along the entire length of the material, turning at the corners until you’ve covered three sides of the sofa. Now, you’ve got a fabric blocker surrounding the furniture.
Note that because the bottom edge of the fabric is just hanging there, it may still be possible for some toys to slip through if they’re moving very quickly. However, it should keep the toys out most of the time.
A solid option for a handy person involves building a wooden frame beneath the sofa. This option requires basic carpentry skills and access to essential tools as well. However, it may create one of the most robust options on this list.
The first step is to take measurements. You’ll want to make the frame fit either between the legs or just inside them. Depending on which option you go for, take measurements in the appropriate locations. Next, measure the distance between the bottom of the couch and the floor. Purchase sufficient lumber to cover the space.
The next step for either option is to rip the lumber to the appropriate width to fit underneath the couch. Use a table saw to do this. If your pieces will go in between the legs, simply cut them to the appropriate lengths, paint them, and place them between the legs on the front and sides of the couch.
If you plan to build a frame to fit inside the legs, cut the pieces to the measured lengths and then screw them together in a “U” shape. Slide the frame under the couch and it should block toys from going to an unretrievable place under the couch.
Related: Runball Tug
Dog toys under the couch result in repeated trips fishing beneath it, whiny pets, and empty toy baskets. However, by using one or more of the options listed above, it’s possible to prevent this unfortunate occurrence from happening. With either a little out-of-pocket expense or a little ingenuity, this is a problem that can be taken off your list.
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