Photo by Mike Burke at Unsplash
You’ve decided to buy a house with a yard so you and your dog can enjoy relaxing and playing without having to take him out on a leash several times a day. But with all of the options out there, how do you know which house is the right one for you both?
Believe it or not, you’re not the first person to buy a home with a dog in mind. A recent Harris poll found that millennials are motivated by their dogs to buy homes. But you don’t have to be a millennial to love your dog and want the best for him.
According to the American Pet Products Association’s 2017-2018 National Pet Owners survey, about 68 percent of American households have pets, and 60 percent of those are dogs. There are about 90 million pet dogs in the U.S.
On the hunt
The main thing you’ll want to look for is a fenced yard, and if your dream home doesn’t have a fence, determine if can you easily install one. Some neighborhoods have ordinances and covenants that prevent fences, so check first. Some neighborhoods only allow underground fences, which might look better aren’t secure for all dogs. Also, be sure to check for HOA rules about pets. Some HOAs allow only a certain number of animals living at a property.
Next consider the age of your dog: now and later. If your home has lots of stairs, your pooch may not be able to get up and down. He might be fine now, but if you’re buying a home, you’re likely planning to stay a while. Your dog will age, and stairs will become an issue. If that happens, you’ll have to carry him or get a ramp, which may not be suitable for all stairs.
Consider the flooring, too. Carpets are nice, but they hold smells and stains. Dogs are better suited to hardwood or tile flooring, or even painted concrete. The mud they track in will be much easier to clean on a hard floor than from a carpet. If the home itself doesn’t seem pet-friendly at first, you can always plan some projects to make it more accommodating.
Check out the neighborhood to see if it’s dog friendly. Are there sidewalks? Parks and dog parks? Are there a lot of dogs out for their evening strolls? If so, your potential neighborhood just might be pet-friendly, which means you’ll meet lots of other dog owners out walking with your best buddy.
When the big day arrives, your dog will need some extra care when he’s introduced to your new home. Allow him to investigate your new place before you move all your stuff in. Put him on a leash and take him around the house. Let him sniff around so he can get used to the smells and appearance of the home. Unpack his things and put them where you plan to keep them so he can feel at home right away.
Try to keep your dog away when the movers are doing their work. It could cause extra anxiety in your dog to see them moving stuff around, and with doors being propped open, there’s more chance of him bolting out the door into a neighborhood he’s unfamiliar with. Your best bet is boarding your dog or hiring a pet sitter.
Don’t change his routine too drastically. There will likely be some change of routine that you can’t help, but try to stick to his usual feeding, walking and potty schedule. Dogs love routines, and the familiarity will give him comfort.
Keeping your dog in mind as you hunt for a house is the best way to ensure you find something that fits you both. Once you find the right home and set up a plan for moving day, you’ll be in excellent shape. Before long, your dog will be relaxed in your new home and you both will be settled and making new friends while out on your daily walks.
**Cindy Aldridge of Our Dog Friends is passionate about dogs and pets and loves sharing her thoughts and insights on being a responsible dog owner.