Here in Portland, Oregon we love our animals! That’s clear from all the “couture” pet accessory stores & doggie day-care centers sprouting everywhere, and even the wonderful “Lucky Lab” neighborhood brew pub with it’s great covered patio where you can hang out and relax with your dog. But when it comes to selling your home, suddenly our beloved four-legged friends become pariahs in their own homes. I have seen the topic of staging a home for sale when you are a pet owner addressed many times. But the article is always about eliminating odors and hiding the pet beds, dishes & toys. One thing I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone address is your pet’s safety and well being during the time your home is on the market. So, Part 1 of this post is about assuring your pets survive and thrive during the marketing of your property giving you peace of mind. Part 2 is about making it as EASY as possible for a pet owner to show their home in it’s best light.
When your home goes on the market, strangers will be coming through – we hope! Having strangers in your home and yard when you aren’t there can be very stressful for your pets and there’s the potential of your pets accidentally getting loose. Although I find most people to generally be courteous and considerate when touring homes, there are few who will make a mad dash to capture a cat or dog that bolted for the door the instant it opened. Also, when a buyer is viewing a property, there’s a lot to capture their attention and they aren’t familiar with all the tricky bits of your latches & locks. It’s very possible that a back yard gate does not get latched properly. I don’t know about you, but my dogs are always testing the boundaries for any possible weakness in perimeter security and would nose it open the instant they thought the coast was clear and be off like a shot. Sometimes potential buyers bring children with them to view the home and your pet can be a real attention magnet. Your pet may be the gentlest and most tolerant animal, but there’s no guarantee that the KIDS have learned to be gentle! Best to keep your pet out of possible harm’s way.
My first choice for keeping your pets safe is to remove them from the home for all showings. If you are home almost all of the time, this is pretty easy. Have your dog leashes and cat carriers at the ready. Load everyone into the car and make your escape before the buyers get there.
If you work and cannot drop everything to run get your pets when a showing comes up, how can you protect your pets? Here are a few ideas.
My first choice & easiest solution, if you have the funds, is to drop your dogs off at a doggie day-care center on your way to work. Your dog will have fun romping with other dogs all day and you’ll rest easy knowing there’s no chance of your dog getting let out of the yard or having his tail pulled. One recent client of mine lived near her parents, so her dog got dropped off at “grandma’s” every day. Great solution! Buyers will feel more relaxed viewing your property because they aren’t worried about keeping your pet where it’s supposed to be, nor are they worried about being jumped on or bitten.
My second choice for your dogs. Create a dog run, preferably away from your house. When I had to sell my home four years ago, I didn’t have a dog run. Our dogs lived in the house with us, and had full run of the fenced yard. So, when I knew we were putting our house on the market, we fenced off a lower portion of our yard several feet away from the house. Buyers could see the entire yard from the top level, so there was no need for them to go into the fenced off area. The dogs were safe from anyone viewing the house and people didn’t feel threatened by the dogs. There is a lot of good info online about creating a dog run that is safe and healthy for them. When you create your dog run, I recommend either using slightly raised wood decking or synthetic turf on the ground so that it doesn’t turn into a mud pit. Both solutions look great, and are easy for you to hose down. I am including some photos of very nice dog runs. Shelter from sun and rain will keep your dog comfortable in any weather. An extra tall fence will keep kids and grown-ups alike from reaching in to disturb your dog. A nice soft bed and enough room to run around and play lets you feel good about keeping your dog here while you work.
If you live in an area that gets exceptionally cold or snowy, here’s a great idea! My next door neighbors have created an indoor/outdoor dog run by putting a dog door in the side of their garage and actually have fenced off a portion of the inside of the garage where they keep the dog’s beds & water. So, the dogs have access to warmer indoor shelter directly from their outside dog run. You can also buy dog house heaters and outdoor heated kennel pads for use during winter. Use a little creativity and go the extra mile to make the dog run look attractive. It could be a nice bonus selling feature if your buyer has a dog. Blending fencing materials with the style of your home enhances your home instead of creating a visual eyesore or distraction.
If you’re a cat owner, I’m sure you’ve noticed your cat’s lack of enthusiasm when it comes to going for a ride! So although there are perfectly nice cat kennels that are great for caring for a cat while you are on a vacation, the stress to the cat of being driven somewhere everyday may make this not such a great solution in your cat’s opinion.
Outdoor CatterySo,here’s my first choice for cats. Build an outdoor “cattery”! This is like a dog run, but it has a full ceiling since cats are waaaay better at climbing than dogs. We have six cats and at my last home my husband and I created a cattery on the side of the house where most people would have put their trash cans, etc. We did this years before we sold our home because we lived on a busy road. It provided a safe haven for them to play outdoors. Our cattery was pretty similar to the photo on the right, except we didn’t have a wood floor. We had lots of plants, fresh bark mulch, a tree for shade, garden sculpture and a small fountain for lovely sound. We did our best to make it look as much like an enclosed garden as possible. It was actually very pretty. The whole side of the house was still visible to potential buyers, and they didn’t have to open any doors that might have let our cats escape. The cats had plenty of room to play, shelter from the elements, comfy spots to sleep, and we kept it meticulously raked and clean so there was no odor problem. Whenever we left, the cats went into the cattery. Outdoor heated pads are also available for cats. With a little design savvy, a cattery can be quite nice. I love the one below, left. Very contemporary style!
Because we had the dog run and the cattery, all pet food bowls were kept out there, not in the house, so they had access to food & water with no cat or dog food smells in the house.
If you don’t have space for an outdoor cattery, and it is essential that your cat does not get out of the house, then my second choice for cats, is to have a large crate or cattery in the garage, or (less desirable) a spare room. Again, it should look as nice as possible and be kept meticulously clean. Keep in mind that some people are super allergic to pets, so having them out of the living areas of the house for all showings is really desirable. This is why my first choice is to have these enclosures outside of the house, and second choice is the garage, with last choice actually being inside the house,
If you cannot provide a cattery for your cat, then it’s a good idea to have a kitty door that uses a cat collar with a signal so that only your cat can enter and it can also get back in if someone accidentally lets it out. If your kitty is an indoor/outdoor cat normally, then having a cat door will assure that your cat can go about it’s routine pretty much undisturbed.
So, to sum it up, for your pet’s safety and well being, and because of buyers’ potential for leaving a door or gate ajar, their fear of animals or allergies, the ideal plan is to have your pet in a safe, secure, and comfortable location outside or away from the house.
If you would like more details on any of the dog runs or catteries pictured here, please see my original post which has clickable links on all the photos to their sources.
Pet owners have some extra challenges when it comes to keeping their homes show-ready. Please read part 2 for the EASIEST ways to keep your house looking and smelling it’s very best while living with pets.
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