Dogs & home showings are a bad combination!

Home Stager with a fresh space :: home staging & thoughtful organizing

I love my dog.  She's great.  Sweet, well mannered and not too smelly for a lab.  But come near my house, and all bets are off. 

You probably love your dog too.  Maybe you think that she's so cute that anyone looking at your house will just be enthralled with her.  Or that buyers won't notice any doggy odor because she doesn't smell.  And the dog poop in the backyard just adds character.  Think again.

Here's my top 5 reasons for NOT leaving your dog at home when your house is being shown:

1.  It's your dog's house.  Any dog worth their salt is going to want to protect their property.  I don't care if it's a 150 Great Dane or a 6 pound chihuahua (personally I'd rather take my chances with the Great Dane), that dog is going to protect its turf.  No matter how sweet your dog may be when you are around, if a stranger (or group of strangers) comes waltzing in - watch out.  You are just asking for trouble.  It may be in the form of growling, charging, snapping or even a bite.  This isn't exactly how you want people to remember your house!

OK, you say, I'll put the dog in the backyard or a crate in the garage.  Not such a good idea either.  If the dog is in the backyard, then no one will go out there to see it and they will probably stand at the back door barking and scratching.  If they are in a crate, they will most likely be howling and barking.  This is not only stressful for the dog, but for the prospective buyers.  All they are thinking is, "that poor dog" and "why did those people (YOU!) leave them cooped up like that".  At least that's what I'd be thinking, being the dog lover that I am.

2.  Your dog smells.  Leave a dog in the house and you get the occasional accident, the inevitable scooting, the "I just rolled in something delicious" aroma, gassiness, and just general dog odor.  You may not notice it but your buyer will.  And they won't like it. 

3.  Your dog scares people.  I know, you love dogs.  Me too.  But a huge percentage of the population, a lot of whom are children, are petrified of dogs.  Do you want your house to be the one that makes a little girl hysterical?

4.  Your dog is annoying.  Even if your dog doesn't go after intruders, chances are they will want attention.  I know mine does when anyone is in the house.  A wet nose up a skirt, slobber on dress slacks or knocked down by an enthusiastic golden retriever is not the way to make a showing go well.  Not to mention the continual dropping of (slimy, disgusting, barely recognizable) toys and balls at the feet of people trying to admire your crown molding.

5.  Your dog is distracting.  The main goal here is to sell your house.  If people are all busy playing with your dog or being scared off by your dog, they are not paying attention to all of the great features of your home.  Keep the buyers focused on how great your house is, not how great your dog is.

When I stage houses, I always ask about dogs and where they are going to be during showings.  Plan ahead!  Set up a dog sitter, a doggie day care or kennel, or a friend or neighbor who can run over and take the dog for a bit during a showing.  If you are home, take the dog with you - make sure your vehicle is empty enough to toss the dog in along with anything else you don't want buyers seeing (dirty laundry or your lunch?). 

Yes, that's my dog.  And if you think you are getting in our house with us not home - think again.  And she smells.  And scares people.  And she's really annoying and distracting.  We love her but if we were selling our house, she would NOT be there so someone could actually look at our house instead of being bombarded with slobbery tennis balls and mangled rope toys.


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Jim O'Donnell
Raleigh Cary Realty - Fuquay Varina, NC

I love dogs as well (don't have one because I have a wife instead).  I am rarely bothered by dogs in the house, but I did encoounter a pit bull once with a low growl and ears pinned back.  I got done what I needed to go and got out

Feb 22, 2010 07:10 AM #1
Maureen Bray Portland OR Home Stager ~ Room Solutions Staging
Room Solutions Staging, Portland OR - Portland, OR
"Staging Consultations that Sell Portland Homes"

Liz -- you included excellent points about dogs and showing homes -- I agree, don't do it!  I'm a huge dog lover but when my house goes on the market, my darling little boy will have to go to the babysitter's.

Feb 22, 2010 07:10 AM #2
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

I tell all my clients to remove any and all evidence of's not just the pet.  You don't want buyers to see that a pet even lives there.  It makes them wonder what kind of "pet damage" has been done over the years and their imagination creates issues that aren't even there.

Feb 22, 2010 08:00 AM #3
Mike Sparks
The House Company Galveston Texas - Galveston, TX
Galveston Island Real Estate

It's always a problem, and most owners/dog lovers are insulted when you are blunt with them and tell the the truth.  I've had dogs in crates in th garage that work, or owners that walk or take their dogs with them for showings.  Occasionally I just don't take the listing at all if the owner can't accomodate the showings without the dog.

Feb 22, 2010 08:00 AM #4
Liz Jenkins
a fresh space :: home staging & thoughtful organizing - Franklin, TN

This conversation that I have with the clients when I stage includes both pet damage & odor (good points, Sharon!) but also the tough part about not having the dog.  I usually try to phrase it in such a way that lets them know how much I care about them and their pet and that it is in their best interest.  Sometimes I'll point out that the pet may get loose or do something in the house from stress before a showing or something else that indicates that I understand but leaving the dog just isn't a good idea.  Mostly try to plant the seed that they need to think about it and make a plan.

Thanks for the comments!

Feb 22, 2010 08:10 AM #5
Kathy Burke
Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA - Danville, CA
S.F. East Bay Home Staging

I love my dog toooooo he's darling and sweet and sometimes down right annoying!  But I LOVE him.....and I do NOT expect anyone else to feel the same.....soooo he would not be home if I had my house on the market!  I also worry about someone not being nice to him....or worse....leaving a door open and he wanders away.  

I do always talk with clients about their pets.....more from the safety aspect.....which will usually get them to see the light!

Feb 22, 2010 12:09 PM #6
Mary Lou Teague
Home Style and Staging Knoxville. TN

My dogs are everything to me, but have to agree if selling a home not everyone loves Lexie adn Lucie like I do...Dogs should be sent to boarding for the day if house is shown..Great post, thanks

Feb 22, 2010 10:45 PM #7
Sandi Gerrard
Toronto, ON

Bang on .. and it's totally impossible to keep the house clean with a dog in it.  Kibble crunching underfoot, bits of dog toy here and there, nose prints on the patio door, and wet paw prints down the hall ...

My house goes on the market tomorrow, anybody want to dog sit my boxer?

Feb 23, 2010 12:31 AM #8
unknown person
Toronto, ON

Our 80 lb. Chocolate Lab - Miss Dolly, goes for a visit to her grand-parents when we move house.  Its the best solution all round!

Feb 23, 2010 02:27 AM #9
Cathy Lee
CL Design Services Home Staging - Danville, CA

I love animals!! But, If a prospective buyer loves dogs and the dog at the home they are viewing is barking they will leave thinking they are upseting the dog-if the prospective buyer is afraid of dogs and a dog is home they will not enter. Dogs, pets- should go away until the home is pending. 

Feb 23, 2010 10:31 AM #10
B Lucas-Thrower
Staging - Interior Redesign & Home Staging - Franklin, TN
Interior Redesign and Home Staging

Very good post.

Mar 31, 2010 11:18 AM #11
Tracy Boutin
Real Estate Webmasters - Nanaimo, BC

I really like this post because it's so honest :) Adorable or not, dogs tend to become the center of attention, and may distract buyers when they're really there to see the house. While the smells, barking, and dog hair can all be unpleasant for buyers, I think your point about dogs protecting their territory is a key one for sellers to keep in mind. You definitely want your house to be a safe space for anyone touring it (not to mention you want your dog to feel safe and happy as well).

Jun 25, 2010 10:41 AM #12
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