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The Essential Checklist for Every Dog-Owning House-Hunter

Whether you’re searching for a home for yourself or you’re advising a client on how to make the best dog-friendly home purchase, there are a lot of considerations to examine, such as:

Is the backyard suitable for my dog?

Is the neighborhood dog-friendly?

What kind of flooring is best?

How can I help my dog acclimate?


It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the many important aspects of looking for a new property. So if you’re considering moving to a new place, or are helping a beloved client through this arduous process, and want to make sure you have your furry friend’s best interests at heart, use this checklist to help keep your dogs’ needs at the front of your mind.


Does the Backyard Have Room to Roam?

Outdoor space is one of the first things that dog owners look at when touring new homes. Even small breeds need plenty of room to explore, use the bathroom and stretch their legs. Being outside isn’t just for going to the bathroom; it gives dogs a much needed break from life behind four walls— napping, expelling pent up energy and engaging in some of their favorite activities, like chasing wildlife, listening for other dogs and smelling around. When making a list about the kinds of outdoor needs your dog has, be sure to look for:

  • A large enough space for “zoomies.”
  • Fences that allow for both security and privacy.
  • Opportunity to train your dog to use the bathroom in certain areas, while avoiding others (namely the ones you aren’t spending a lot of time in).
  • Gaps or spaces in the fence where the dog can slip or dig out.


If the backyard is limited, fit may not be ideal but you do have options. You can install an invisible fence to open up the front yard for exploration. You can also take your dog to obedience school to train him on voice commands so a fence isn’t entirely necessary. If there are parks nearby, your dog may be able to get the exercise he needs. That’s why it’s also important to move into a dog-friendly neighborhood.


Is this a Dog-Friendly Neighborhood?

Moving into an area where dogs are welcome is an often overlooked aspect of house-hunting. However, the right kind of neighborhood can set an important tone for your dog’s acceptance of the new area. When searching for homes online, be sure to ask yourself:

  • Is the house away from high traffic roads?
  • Will you be living within walking distance to parks or off-leash dog parks?
  • Are the sidewalks and other paths in good condition?


One of the best ways to determine if the neighborhood is dog-friendly is to take your dog for a walk. Notice if you see other dog walkers and if people in the neighborhood smile at your dog or even ask to pet him.


What Kind of Flooring is Best? Hardwood vs. Carpeting vs. Tile

Your house is more than an home— it is also an investment. When dog owners become homeowners they want to keep that investment sound. Dogs can be loving companions, but they can also be a mischievous and unintentional liability, especially when it comes to the condition of your floor. Before buying a home, think about the pros and cons of different kinds of floor.

  • Carpets can be harder (and more expensive) to clean.
  • Hardwood can be damaged by untrimmed pet nails and pet accidents that sit for too long.
  • Carpets can be more comfortable for elderly dogs to walk on.
  • Tile is more challenging for dogs and puppies to get traction when they walk.
  • Tile can be cleaned easier, especially in mudrooms and entry ways.
  • Carpet is quieter for dogs that like to move around at night or early in the morning.


The flooring in your house may vary, so it’s important to look at the individual rooms your dog will have access to and make sure they meet your needs.


What Are The Qualities Of Dog-Friendly Rooms?

You may not think the layout of your home means much to your dog, but you could be overlooking a few important considerations. Does your dog like to look out the front door or windows? Does he often go to a closet or bathroom when scared? Think about some of the amenities in your current home that are helpful and then consider what you might need in a new home so that everyone is comfortable and safe.

  • Tubs and showers are large enough and have detachable sprayers for cleaning an animal the size and with the temperament of your dog.
  • A mudroom lets you wipe off paws and store leashes, harnesses and other outdoor accessories.
  • There are comfortable, safe areas with tile where dogs can be kept behind a baby gate to have more space than in a kennel.


Giving your dog access to the whole house may overwhelm him at first, but knowing there are rooms safe from day one gives you solid peace of mind. That way you can create a plan for helping your dog acclimate to such a major change.


How Can I Help My Dog Acclimate?

You may see your new home as an exciting adventure, but your dog may see it is a terrifying change— especially if he is already prone to anxiety. Help your dog ease into the new environment by:

  • Avoiding any change in your daily routine.
  • Keeping their most beloved and familiar items— like dog bed, toys and food dishes— out in the open and easier to find.
  • Introducing them to more distant rooms incrementally, especially in a large house.
  • Giving your dog a tour of the new home before you move in.


Be sure to give your dog lots of reassurance and cuddles, especially when they seem worried or anxious. If you can avoid leaving them alone for a few days at first, it can help them feel more confident in the new space.


What Nuts and Bolts Do I Need To Get In Order?

While not as exciting as house hunting, you’ll want to be sure that your new home has access to all the services that promote health and safety. It’s easy to overlook some of the minutiae that comes with moving, especially when managing a big move— like to a new city for a different job or to a place you weren’t able to see before move-in day. Consider these tasks to keep your dog organized:

  • If you’re in a new city, find a new vet right away— look for recommendations on social media, Nextdoor or ask around at the local dog park.
  • Update all your dog’s tags, chips and licenses with your new address.
  • Find a pet supply store nearby that offers all your dog’s favorite foods and dog treats.


Moving into a new home often inspires new habits, behaviors and activities. Be sure to keep your dog in mind for these, too. When you think about the next chapter in your life as a homeowner, you are also thinking about a major change for your dog. Keep these questions in hand while searching to make those considerations easier.


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