Pets are part of the family. When you shop for the perfect new home, you want to make sure it’s not only idyllic for adults and children but for any current or future pets. As you shop for existing homes or plan to have one built, think ahead about your pet’s needs. Here are some of the factors that make for a perfect, pet-friendly home.
A Pet-Friendly Neighborhood
Choosing the right neighborhood is as important as choosing the right house, for many reasons. One of these reasons is your pet’s safety and happiness. If you prefer to walk your dog near your home, make sure you will have good sidewalks or trails that are safe and well-lit at night.
If you prefer to play in a park, find out whether there’s a dog park nearby. Try to visit it with your dog in advance to see how comfortable you both are with it. Notice whether staff is present to enforce regulations and break up dog fights. Ask whether they require dog owners to show proof of vaccinations or behavior in order to visit.
A Pet-Friendly Yard
You might have a dog or another pet who will spend time in the yard — pigs and goats have become more popular. A crucial element of a pet-friendly home is a pet-friendly yard. If you plan to exercise your pet at home, rather than taking long walks or playing at a dog park, your yard is especially important. Consider whether your yard will be big enough for pets to roam. Look for potential safety concerns like proximity to busy streets, woods that may conceal predators, or ditches and water hazards.
You may need a barrier to keep your pet in or keep wildlife out. Find out whether your neighborhood permits fences and what options exist that match the style of your home. An “invisible fence” works for some pet owners. These involve an underground electrical barrier, so make sure that one is permitted and feasible for your yard.
Choose non-toxic landscaping. Certain plants and even some types of mulch can harm dogs. Be sure to provide shade, especially if your pets will be spending long periods of time outside.
A Pet-Friendly Entry
Will you want or need a doggy door? Does the home already have one, or can you get one built into your back door or patio doors? Think about how often your pet may need to go outside and the practicality of having its own door. Consider energy costs, as heat and cold will escape.
Once your pet enters the house–through a pet door or a regular one–you want to protect your belongings. Pets bring in mud, snow, water, and potential allergens. For this reason, many homeowners set up a mudroom, which also comes in handy for messy kids! Think about flooring and wall coverings. Make sure everything just inside the entry is built to withstand some abuse. This is also a good place to keep your pet’s crate and to build in storage for leashes, waste bags, pet toys, and other supplies.
Around the House
Even in a pet-friendly home, you may prefer to confine a furry friend to certain areas. If you want to keep a pet only on the first floor, for example, or out of a baby’s room, consider how you will manage this. Rather than buying “baby gates” from a retail store and putting them up, see about having gates built into the house. Built-in gates will look more attractive and can be designed to retract out of sight when you don’t need them.
For areas that pets frequent, remember accidents happen. The most well-trained pet can get sick and expel bodily fluids on your expensive floors. Look for stain resistant carpeting in dark colors or easy-to-clean flooring.
Pets like to look out windows so think about where they will spend time, perhaps in front of sliding glass doors or, for cats, in large windowsills. Decide in advance where you will allow them and what areas are off limits.
Hidden Litter Boxes
Where to put the litter box is a common discussion among cat-owning families. Homeowners and builders have become pretty clever with hiding this necessary but sometimes unsightly element of cat ownership. You can have a special cupboard in a bathroom, kitchen, or utility room with a door cut out for your cat. Inside you can fashionably hide the litter box. You can also buy furniture, such as a side table or planter that actually disguises a litter box. Just make sure to show your cat right away where you’ve hidden it.
An Indoor Aviary or Terrarium
When you think of a pet-friendly home, remember feathered and scaly pets, too. If you have birds, you might want a sunroom or enclosed patio to use as an aviary. Think about how you and your feathered friends will use the space safely. Consider the challenges of heating or cooling a room with lots of windows. A sunroom can also work as a home for fish, reptiles, and amphibians, but like birds, they need carefully regulated temperatures.
Finally, remember to check out veterinarians in the area. Ask your new neighbors for recommendations or read online reviews. You might stop by to visit the veterinary office and meet some of the personnel before you actually need an appointment. Learn the location of the nearest emergency pet hospital, too. You don’t want to be panicked as you try to find one in an emergency situation. Make sure you know the best route from home and the hours of operation and put the number in your phone.
As you find your perfect home, you and your whole family will enjoy a brand new adventure. Take the steps to ensure it’s a peaceful retreat for every member of the family, even those with fur, feathers, or scales.