6 Feng Shui Doggy Design Tips for Chi-Conscious Pet Parents

Joe Sporn of the Yuppie Puppy boarding facility shares his advice on interior form and function.


Joe Sporn invented the concept of doggie day care with Yuppie Puppy, the world’s first cage-free canine boarding facility. Now he has reinvented his invention with Yuppie Puppy’s new location in New York City.

A longtime admirer of the ancient Asian art of space and design known as feng shui, Sporn puts his own spin on the practice, channeling chi to make his establishment functional and beautiful in equal measure, with numerous design features not found at any other boarding facility.

“The idea is to let each area flow into the next one, for maximum movement of energy, or chi, so the dogs feel perfectly at ease,” Joe explains, giving Dogster an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tutorial in Yuppie Puppy Design.

The principles Joe used in decorating his establishment make it pleasant for pets and posh for people. By day, it’s Yuppie Puppy dog daycare, a happy, harmonious hound hangout. By night, cue the disco ball and hear the hip harmonies of Funky Joe’s Music Club, complete with a well-stocked bar for two-legged party animals!

If you’d like your own dog house to do double duty like Yuppie Puppy –- or just look really rockin’ for when Remodelista comes ’round — here’s Joe’s design tips on how he made his happening place happen.

1. Use wood

When designing a space shared with dogs, use as much solid wood as possible. Because it comes from trees, wood brings the spirit of the outdoors in, making domesticated wolves feel in their element. Joe’s favorite is mahogany for its durability and handsome appearance, which only improve with age.

2. And as many other natural elements as you can

Besides wood, use as many other natural design elements as you can, like pebbles, which line one outdoor wall, and stone tile, which Joe arranged in artful mosaic patterns to bring flair to the floors. He avoided the use of paint, leaving wood doors and panels au naturel for a warm, welcoming effect.

To emphasize the “dogs welcome here” message, he also commissioned an artisan to create two-dimensional glazed ceramic wall tiles featuring dogs of various breeds.

3. Celebrate the dog

Those terrific tiles aren’t the only examples of dog-themed décor at Yuppie Puppy. Feng shui dictates that a large, heavy object be used to ground an entryway, so out back, visitors to the yard are greeted by an imposing Greyhound statue. Meanwhile, a smaller Greyhound figure surveys the scene from his lofty perch high atop the fountain (and of course, the dog wears a Sporn No-Pull Harness, another one of Joe’s helpful inventions, which is now part of Martha Stewart’s collection of pet accessories).

4. Bring the outdoors in

Real plants do wonders to welcome the great outdoors in, helping animals feel comfortable away from home. But sometimes dogs have a habit of digging around and gutting the greenery. To prevent this, Joe cleverly hung pots of ivy near the ceiling of the indoor run, and landscaped the outdoor play space with a trellis of super-durable ivy, taking care to plant only species that are not toxic to dogs. Brilliant!

5. Just add water

Providing an aquarium to gaze upon is always a reliable way to relax your guests, the canines as well as the humans! Water is featured at key points throughout Yuppie Puppy to keep those relaxing vibes flowing. Joe incorporated several walls of water throughout the indoor and outdoor spaces, plus an outdoor fountain in the play yard out back.

6. Don’t forget the good luck charms

You can never be too lucky, so Joe incorporated numerous symbols of good fortune throughout the space, from vases of lucky bamboo to the Fook, ancient symbol of prosperity, which occupies pride of place behind the bar. Meanwhile, in his office upstairs, Joe draws strength and positive vibes from the peaceful presence of an alabaster Buddha figure.

Have you incorporated feng shui-inspired elements in your decor to make your dog feel more at home? How did you do it? Please share your design wisdom in the comments!

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