You have a list of everything you want in your new home, but have you considered your dog’s needs? Buying a dog-friendly home not only makes life more pleasant for your pooch, it also adds convenience to everyday pet care duties. These are these questions to ask to ensure your new house has the dog-friendly features you need:
1. Does the HOA restrict pets? Believe it or not, some homeowners associations ban dogs completely. Thankfully, blanket bans are fairly rare. However, it’s not uncommon for HOAs to have restrictions on breed, weight, and number of pets. Even if you think it’s unfair, getting on the wrong side of your HOA only makes life difficult. If you’re eyeing a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, familiarize yourself with the bylaws before making an offer.
2. How are the sidewalks? If you’re the kind of dog owner who enjoys long, leisurely strolls with your pooch, cracked, overgrown, or nonexistent sidewalks are a major thorn in your side. As you scope out neighborhoods, make note of the state of the sidewalks.
3. What about the neighbors? If a prospective neighborhood has unattended barking dogs in every front yard, it might not be the most pleasant place for walks, especially if you own a reactive dog. On the other hand, a neighborhood full of well-behaved, leashed dogs indicates it’s a good place for your social pup to make friends.
4. Is the yard fenced? A fenced-in yard makes backyard play sessions safer and adds major convenience to bathroom breaks. When your yard is secure, you can send Fido out the door to do his business rather than leashing him for supervised trips outside. Note not only the presence of a fence, but also its security level. As charming as low picket fences are, they won’t do much to contain a jumper or digger.
5. Can you walk to the park? According to a report from the National Recreation and Park Association, you’re more likely to use a park if it’s within a 10-minute walk. You know your dog lives for trips to the park, so make nearby green spaces a priority in your house hunt. If the closest park includes an off-leash dog park, even better!
6. Did the previous owners have dogs? Best Friends Animal Society warns that homes with lingering pet odors could trigger your dog to start urine marking his “territory.” While marking is most common in dogs that aren’t spayed or neutered, any dog has the potential to urine mark. And the risk is there even if you can’t smell anything funky, because your dog’s sense of smell is much stronger than yours. If possible, avoid homes where the previous owners had dogs.
7. What’s the floor plan like? The considerations don’t stop at the front door. Opt for homes with open floor plans if you enjoy indoor play sessions with your dog. If your dog is elderly or soon to be, a step-free entryway enables him to move around comfortably despite arthritic joints. Dogs’ paws are also prone to slipping on hard floors; if you don’t want wall-to-wall carpeting in your home, know that you may need to add area rugs in rooms with high dog traffic.
Even with your efforts to find the perfect house for your dog, he might still have trouble adjusting. It doesn’t mean you didn’t make a great choice! Big changes are just scary for dogs, but there are things you can do to help your dog adjust: Keep your dog’s routine consistent, keep his old bed and toys for familiarity, let him explore at his own pace, and make sure the house and backyard aren’t hiding any safety hazards.
You want your new house to be perfect for your whole family. That means your dog’s needs should make the must-have list, right alongside your own. While following this advice might make your house hunt a little longer, asking the right questions ensures you find a home you’ll be happy with for years to come.
Medina James believes there are no bad dogs. She created DogEtiquette.info to share her dog training tips and advice to dog owners everywhere. Visit her site for more information.
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