We get asked a lot of questions from our customers and fans. Usually they have to do with dietary issues involving their dogs' treats or even food. But recently we were asked what things we would recommend considering when moving into a new home with a dog. Interesting. Well, this may not be our exact expertise, but we believe we have found the perfect person to help! This month's blog has been contributed to us by Alexis Craig. Alexis is licensed Real Estate agent with Keller-Williams and also Founder of Mocha Homes right here in Mid-Michigan! Keller-Williams has a reputation for being a very dog-friendly agency, and Alexis is as good as they come. Without further ado.
Nearly half of the households in the U.S. own a dog and every single year 10% of those households are planning to move.
If you’re the one out of every ten dog owners who are looking for a new place to call home, you know how difficult it is to find the right home in the right neighborhood for you family and your dog. While your dog could be happy in just about any home, there are homes that won’t be good for your dog.
The right home and environment can have a positive effect on your dog’s behavior. Good behavior makes owning a dog much more enjoyable. The wrong home could cause your dog to pick up bad behaviors — like chewing socks or destroying the house — in an effort to deal with the stress.
As a real estate agent, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to dog owners about selling and buying a home with a dog. I have learned what dog owners want in a house, how to decide on a house, and things to avoid.
Today, I’m going to share with you some of the tips that I have learned from working with dog owners.
When Buying a Home Think About Breed and Personality
To determine the “must-haves” — the features a house has to have to even consider buying it — in your new home, you have to know the needs of your dog based on their breed, and more importantly, their personality.
For example, a Belgian Malinois has a different set of needs than a chihuahua. And a dog with separation anxiety has different needs than a dog without separation anxiety. If you a own a dog with separation anxiety, you may have to live closer to work so that you can minimize time away from your dog or visit them during your lunch break.
First, if you don’t know the needs of your dog, do some research. The AKC has a great resource on finding the exercise needs, energy level, and general personality of your dog. For example, a siberian husky is medium in size, has a lot of energy, and often gets into trouble because of its mischievous personality.
If you’re like a lot of dog owners, your dog is mixed-breed and has several breeds in them. If that’s the case, then skip to evaluating the personality of your dog. The characteristics of a specific breed gives you a baseline and a framework to evaluate your dog’s personality.
When looking at your dog’s personality, some of the questions you should ask yourself:
- Does my dog have any particular behavioral problems, like separation anxiety, that needs to be taken into account?
- Is my dog easily excited or calm? A calm dog can be placed in any environment. An easily excited dog could present challenges if there is too much going on in their environment.
- How much exercise does my dog like and need? Dogs that need more exercise need to have access to parks or larger yards.
- Does my dog get along with other dogs? Dogs that don’t get along can be difficult to handle if there are dogs next door.
With your dog’s personality in mind, you can begin searching for the community that fits your dog.
Finding the Right Community
Based on your dog’s personality, you should have an idea of the needs of your dog. For example, a high energy dog is going to need more exercise, which means you will want to have convenient access to parks.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when evaluating a community:
- Does the community provide convenient and easy access to parks where your dog can play and run around?
- Are there any dog parks around?
- Are there any barriers towards getting your dog some exercise? For example, living on a busy road could make it challenging to walk your dog. Is the neighborhood pet-friendly?
- Living next to people who don’t like dogs or understand why dogs bark at 6am in the morning can be a real problem.
Every day I run past an apartment complex, where the closest park is about three miles away. I watch people with golden retrievers or similar breeds, play with their dogs on the fenced-in basketball court.
It’s not very big. I have no idea how they can get enough exercise for their dog. Living in the perfect home, but the wrong community can cause problems for you and your dog.
My brother-in-law lives in a pet-friendly neighborhood. His neighbors have dogs and all of them are often barking at each other. But it doesn’t seem to bother any of them. They all know it’s just part of owning a dog.
Homeowners that don’t know what it’s like to own a dog is like trying to solve a puzzle without an image. It’s challenging. Everyone knows how to raise and train a dog, except those who own one. Meaning, people who don’t own dogs are often very critical of your dog’s behavior.
How Big Is the Yard?
Real estate agents have a saying; “The kitchen sells the home.” The idea is that if you can sell the kitchen, then you can sell the home.
With a dog owner, it’s often a close tie between the kitchen and the backyard. Taking your dog to the park often involves a lot of work. It’s the same reason a lot of us don’t go to the gym after a long stressful day at the office. We just want to get home and stay home.
A good backyard allows you to meet your dog’s needs without having to spend all of the time going to the park or walking your dog. You can let them out into the backyard and just throw the ball.
In our community, I love homes in Grand Ledge and DeWitt. A lot of them offer homes with larger yards. Your yard requirements will depend on your dog’s breed and personality.
Aside from the size of the yard, you’ll want to evaluate the safety of the yard. Is it fenced and closed off? If your dog escaped, are there any threats like traffic?
Other Stuff to Consider When Buying a Home With a Dog
A lot of dog owners only think about the yard and space. I try to encourage dog owners to also think about things like proximity to work. For example, it may not be a good idea to live far from work if you own a dog with separation anxiety.
Living close to your work would allow you to go home for lunch and get home to your dog sooner at the end of a work day. Will your dog be able to handle being locked in the house for the time that you will be gone?
The last things to look at in a home is the amount of indoor space and the layout of the home. Small rooms can make it feel cramped for your dog. Open layouts, like an open kitchen layout, provides more space for your dog to roam around.
Winters in Michigan can be long and brutal, so living in a home with adequate space for your dog becomes important. Nobody. I mean nobody wants to go out to walk a dog in sub-zero weather in the middle of February after a long day of work.
So, a small condo isn’t going to be an ideal home for your Great Dane or German Shepherd. But it will probably work for your teacup terrier.
My cousin, who frankly had no business owning any dogs, constantly lived high-energy and active dogs in a small home with almost no yard. Her family’s busy schedule didn’t really leave anyone to care properly for their dog.
Every so often the would come home to a surprise. I will never forget one Christmas season when we walked in the front door and the 7ft christmas tree that took nearly three hours to decorate was on the floor.
All of the busted bulbs made it impossible to step anywhere without breaking them even more. Cleaning up the mess was like trying to salvage parts of a ship that exploded 2,000 years ago because of pirates. Almost nothing could be saved.
Where you live will affect your dog. The question is whether it will be positive or negative. When looking for the right home, it helps to start with your dog’s breed and personality. Once you have determined the unique needs of your dog, you can begin looking at specific communities and homes.