Successful House Hunting as a Dog Owner: How to Get Two Thumbs Up and a Wagging Tail
Guest Article by Cindy Aldridge
The three most common reasons young buyers are searching for their first homes include marriage, children, and dogs. Believe it or not, dogs are the number one reason, with 33 percent of millennials stating dog-friendly features are a must. If you’re a dog owner hunting for a new house, it’s likely you’re concerned about finding a home that accommodates you and your dog, but with a little preparation you can find that checks the boxes for both of you.
Survey the size
First, consider the size of the home. A small home may be suitable for a single person and a cat, but active or larger dogs need more space. It’s also important to think about your dog’s long-term needs. As dogs age, their mobility can become an issue. Older dogs often have difficulty climbing stairs, so a second-floor condo or a two-story home may not be accommodating down the road. Look for a home that’s big enough to accommodate you and your pet but remember you have other options if space is challenging. For example, if you find the perfect home for you and your dog but there’s not a lot of space for storage, you can rent a storage unit for seasonal items and belongings you don’t need in your daily life.
How about the interior?
Flooring is a crucial consideration for dog owners. Carpet isn’t the best option. While it’s soft and warm for little paws, carpet stains and holds smells. Tile and stone are tough, water resistant, and easy to clean; however, they’re hard and cold, so they’re uncomfortable for dogs. Cork and bamboo are okay, but can be easily scratched by nails. Hardwoods are also easily scratched and don’t fare well when exposed to liquids. Keep these options in mind as you house hunt. Flooring doesn’t have to a deal-breaker as you can always make changes to the flooring later.
Many dog owners want to find a home with an appropriate-sized yard that features a fence. The convenience factor of a fence pays off when your dog needs to go to the bathroom early in the morning or late at night, and it can do a great job at keeping unwanted critters out of your yard. If you can’t find a home with a fence, don’t assume you can simply add one; many HOAs require approval, and some cities require permits. Be sure to have your realtor confirm any restrictions as you weigh your options.
Look for dog-friendly areas
When selecting a neighborhood, look for one with a fair number of dog owners. Not only will your neighbors be more likely to accept your dog, but the area is more likely to be dog-friendly as well. Note that just because an HOA or condo association says it is pet-friendly doesn’t mean it’s without restrictions on the size, breed, or number of pets allowed. Working with a real estate agent who knows how to work with dog owners is ideal. A pet-friendly agent is knowledgeable about town or city pet ordinances, rules and regulations for local HOAs and condo associations, and upcoming changes to ordinances or regulations. He or she should also be savvy about local pet amenities.
If you’ve been considering a move to Los Angeles but aren’t sure about which area of the city you’d like to live, one idea is to rent a pet-friendly vacation home in a neighborhood you’re interested in. Many areas of LA are ideal for you and your pet, especially if you have an active pup. For instance, Griffith Park in the Silverlake area offers great hiking and amazing views. Or if you prefer to be near the ocean, Santa Monica has beautiful beaches, while the boardwalk on Venice Beach is ideal for people (and dog) watching.
Acclimating is important
Once you’ve found the perfect home, your dog will need help acclimating to the new place. When preparing to move, pack up gradually and remain calm. Also, find a new vet before the big day. Update your ID tags with your new address and phone number in case your dog becomes anxious and is separated from you during the move and the first weeks in the new home. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. To add an extra precaution, consider outfitting your pup with a GPS collar so he’s easier to find if he makes an escape during the move.
When you arrive at the new house, have a fun, welcoming moment, and let your dog explore at his own pace. Try to stick to the normal routine as much as possible as you settle in, and hold off on replacing familiar items like food and water bowls, food, crates, and beds. It’s also a good idea to take the opportunity to go for a long walk the first day. Bring your dog along to meet your new neighbors so you can both make new friends.
Putting together a wish list for your new home is both exciting and intimidating. A lot of thought goes into finding a home that accommodates all of your wants and needs. As a dog owner, you also have to think about what will accommodate your pet’s comfort and safety. Carefully considering all the options when you’re house hunting ensures you and your canine companion will feel right at home in your new place in no time.