If you’re one of the 67% of Americans who owns a pet, the thought of moving into a new home is probably extra stressful for you. Depending on the type of home you’re looking for, there may be some extra considerations to make in order for you and your pet to live in harmony with the rest of the neighborhood. More than your own needs, you’ll have to consider the needs of your fuzzy little buddy.
As a dedicated Dog Father myself, I wanted to point out a few of these things you may be overlooking in your search. Fellow pet owners, this guide is for you.
First, Check Out the Local Pet Rules or Laws
Every city has different rules in place about this, most commonly vaccination and license laws. Various jurisdictions may have also regulations about the number of dogs you can own or how much space you need to have. You may be required to pick up after your pet, keep them safely in your yard if unattended, or even make sure they aren’t barking in the middle of the night. As each city has its own unique take on this, you’ll want to investigate these laws before moving.
For instance, in Minneapolis you’ll need a license for any pet older than four months. Getting a license is a good idea even if your city doesn’t require it, because it comes along with some benefits that will help give you some peace of mind as a pet owner in an unfamiliar city. One major plus is your pet will receive a ride home to you rather than being placed in a shelter in the event they become lost.
Most cities will have this information readily available for you to view on their website, so don’t be afraid to do some quick research.
On a smaller, yet no less important level, you may also be subject to rules and regulations of the HOA or condo association, depending on the type of home you’re looking for. While It used to be tough to find condos that allowed pets, this is quickly changing as many condos are now drafting rules for pet owners. Reading up on these will prevent you from needing to pay fees if these rules are broken. It's best to check the fine print before signing an agreement, because there could be restrictions on the size of your pet, the breed and the number of pets allowed.
Investigate the Neighborhood
Once you’re up to speed on local ordinance, it’s time to look into the neighborhood and determine how pet-friendly it may be. Aside from the obvious, such as nice places to walk or nearby dog parks, there are a few other considerations for you to make.
Are there other dog owners in the immediate area? If the neighborhood has many dog owners, they will be more accepting of your pet and much less likely to call the police when she barks for no reason at 3 a.m. You may also be more likely to find a trusted neighbor who is willing to watch your pets when you go out of town.
Are there options for pet-related services in the neighborhood? Sometimes your pet will need some grooming or veterinary care, or even doggy day care, and you probably don't want to have to travel too far to find it.
How pet-friendly are the local retailers and restaurants? Some places are welcoming and even have dog treats on the counter, while others are strictly against bringing your fuzzy buddy onto the premises. This can mean the difference between a fun neighborhood to walk around in and one that feels cold and closed off.
Check out the Yard and Fencing Situation
Most dogs need a little space to thrive. One key consideration to make is how much of a yard the property has, and whether or not it’s enclosed by a fence.
Most dog owners are active and love taking walks with their little buddy, but this isn't true of everyone. If you aren’t able or willing to take frequent walks, then having a decently sized yard becomes more important.
If there isn’t a fence, you’ll need to keep your dog on a leash when you let them outside, which may be a dealbreaker for some of you. In this case you may have to look into whether you’re allowed to build a fence, and how much that might cost.
If you can’t build a fence or your future home doesn’t have a yard, there are always additional options, such as frequent walks or trips to the nearest dog park.
Does the Home Have Pet-Friendly Flooring?
Now that you’ve thoroughly looked into the situation outside, it’s time to consider the inside of the home. Your pet spends most of its time on the floor, so you’ll need to make sure your floors will be able handle the extra stress of doggy claws and possible cat vomit.
This makes wall-to-wall carpet an iffy choice. Carpet traps smells and hairs and can be easily clawed and stained, so this all depends on your individual pets and how accident-prone they may be. While it’s not impossible for carpeting to peacefully coexist with your pets, it will probably be tougher (more expensive) to get your home ready to sell in the future if you need to replace sections of it before moving out.
Most experts agree that hardwood flooring is better suited to pet owners than carpet, since it can be easily refinished if it gets scratched or cleaned if your pet has an unfortunate accident.
A Floor Plan For Fido
There are several things to consider with the layout of the home. Is it big enough for the number and/or size of your pets? They will need a certain amount of space to be able to live comfortably alongside you -- and you will, too. You probably don’t want to be tripping over your chocolate lab in your tiny studio apartment.
Another factor for some pet owners is stairs. If you have older pets they might not be able get around the place easily if they have to navigate stairs. Consider choosing a single level home for your older, wiser buddies.
One final consideration to make with the interior of the home is its number of rooms. Sometimes you may want to confine Leo to a separate room if company is coming. Maybe someone has allergies, or Leo just can’t help himself from jumping excitedly on your guests. In this case, you’ll want a comfortable place for him to stay while you’re entertaining.
Living A Life of Harmony
These are a few key things to keep in mind when looking for that dream home. A little research upfront will save you a lot of time and heartache later. The last thing you want is to fall in love with a home, only to find out your best friend won’t be welcome, or would not be comfortable living there. Do yourself and your little buddy a favor and make sure you’ll both be happy and harmonious in your new home.