For thousands of years the Chinese art of feng shui (pronounced fung shway) has helped people enjoy happier, healthier and more balanced lives. Advocates say the practice of intentionally arranging one’s space can help you score a better job, meet the love of your life and enjoy stronger relationships with friends and family. It can even help your pets.
“If it works for people, why can’t it work for dogs?” says DeAnna Radaj, a feng shui consultant at DeAnna On Design.
Radaj is a practitioner of the bagua school of feng shui. This entails dividing a space into nine zones — or guas — that represent different aspects of life, such as career, family, health and prosperity.
Each zone is represented in the bagua, an octagonal map that can be laid over a home or room. In the bagua school of feng shui, the main entrance of the space aligns with the skills and knowledge, career and helpful people guas. Each gua — and corresponding life area — is activated (and deactivated) by specific colors, shapes and elements.
“In general, feng shui is all about living in harmony with your environment,” Radaj said. “It’s not just about putting Buddhas and crystals everywhere.”
Unless you’re a professional breeder or your kitty’s auditioning to be the next Morris the Cat, chances are your pets don’t need help with their relationship or career guas. But small design tweaks throughout your home can help them feel more comfortable, less stressed and increase their overall wellness. Here are a few to try:
Welcoming A New Pet Into Your Home
One of the biggest feng shui no-nos is clutter. Chances are if your house is a chaotic mess, your life isn’t far behind.
In feng shui, clutter blocks the flow of energy through your home. This can lead to anxiety and difficulty focusing; it can even hold you back from getting a raise. Clutter can also symbolically overwhelm a shelter pet whose life has been chaotic enough, Radaj said.
“A lot of times we don’t know what these poor angels have been through,” she said. “Or what they’ve overcome just to survive.”
Use your pet’s adoption as an excuse to tackle organizing at least one of your home’s most cluttered closets or corners, then place a picture of you and your new furry friend in the family gua. For even better results, display that glamour shot (or selfie) in a green wooden frame.
Plants are also energy amplifiers in the family gua, as are rectangular objects. Use them wisely and your new pet will feel like part of the family in no time.
When it comes to feng shui, the most psychologically secure position of any space is the diagonal corner farthest away from the entry. Radaj calls this “the power position.”
“You have the support of the wall behind you,” she said, “but you can still easily survey who is coming in and out of the room.”
If you’re directly facing the door you’ll be in the line of traffic, which can be disrupting. And if your back is facing the entry you’ll feel on guard and unable to relax. So will your pet.
To help your animal catch its ZZs, place his or her bed in the far corner of the room, facing in. Colors like blue, grey and black have a calming effect. Avoid bedding that has triangular patterns. Triangles represent fire in feng shui, and you don’t want your pup getting fired up before bedtime.
Feng Shui Foodies
“My friends hate going out to eat with me,” Radaj confessed, and as a feng shui expert, it’s hard not to obsess over where you sit in the restaurant.
If the maitre’d sticks you in the middle of a bustling dining room it can be hard to focus on your food. Same goes for being placed in a neglected corner or near a high-traffic route to the kitchen. Similarly, you’ll want to give your pets a proper place to eat their dog food or cat food, especially if they are food insecure or come from a hoarding background (like a shelter pet might).
Just like the bed, the room’s power position is a great spot for your pet’s food dishes. Ideally you should feed him in the health gua, DeAnna said. If that’s not realistic, keep the health gua’s amplifiers in mind when picking out your pet’s plates.
Items made from the earth, like stone or ceramic, are strong here. So are gold, yellow and other earth tones. Just avoid blue, as it’s often a cooling color and you don’t want to cool a finicky pet’s appetite.
Where To Put The Litter Box
“Feng shui has a whole lot to say on the bathroom issue,” Radaj said. “Like bathrooms, there is no best area to place the litter box, only least worst.”
If possible, avoid putting it in your home’s health, abundance or relationship guas. DeAnna said these tend to be life areas all of us humans are working on at some level.
Ideally, pick a gua representing a life area that doesn’t need any help. If you don’t want kids or have already sent the little ones off to college, Radaj said the children and creativity section might be the best spot for the litter pan.
Also consider moving the pan to a bathroom or laundry room. The symbolism of the pipes taking away dirt and waste will help symbolically remove any negative chi associated with the pet potty. They’re also traditionally quieter spaces in the home where kitty can have some privacy.
Clean the pan often and keep the space clutter-free. Don’t place crystals, bright lights or mirrors near the pan. These are feng shui activators, and the last thing you want to do is amplify the energy of the litter box.
Sit. Stay. Fetch.
When it comes to training your dog, both of you will need the help of your home’s skills and knowledge gua. Amp it up with crystals, strategically placed dog training books and objects you associate with wisdom and wise people. Give your dog a blue collar, the power color of this gua.
If you are trying to find a trainer, activate the helpful people corner of your home. Radaj recommends placing business cards of highly-recommended trainers here. Keep the space clutter-free and use some well-placed silver objects and crystals to attract the perfect canine coach.
The best place for your beloved pet’s ashes is the helpful people gua. This section doesn’t just refer to the living, Radaj said, it can also represent helpful people and pets looking over you from beyond.
It goes without saying that feng shui is not a substitute for medical care, so if you have any concerns that your pet may be ill, bring them to your veterinarian (then focus on your home’s health gua once they’ve been seen by a professional.)
Helen Anne Travis is a freelance writer based in Tampa, FL. She also writes for CNN, The Guardian and The Globe and Mail.