Finding the right home for your family is already challenging in today’s tight housing market, but when you throw Fido into the mix the search may feel overwhelming! Recent trends have shown that more and more people, especially Millenials, are shopping for homes with their dogs in mind.
Pets, dogs, in particular, can add additional items to the checklist of priorities and this may limit some of the houses you will consider. However, with the right pet-friendly realtor and approach, you can expand your housing options more than you may realize.
Here are some tips that my realtor and I came up with to help you find a home for your family and Fido:
- Understand your dog’s specific needs
- Have realistic expectations, and keep an open mind
- Buy a pet-friendly home you can dog-proof
- Work with a pet-friendly realtor
- Think about future as well as present needs
According to an article by Nicole Spector published August 9, 2017 by NBCnews.com, One Big Reason Millenials are Buying Homes? For their Dogs! , 33% of millenials buying homes in 2017 were motivated to buy because of their dogs. Finding a home for Fido seemed to be even more important than getting married or having kids according to a 2017 survey.
We saw this trend continuing during the 2019 Covid pandemic as more and more people began working from home. The shelters became empty as more people suddenly had the time to care for a pet and wanted a furry companion to help break their sense of isolation. The tight housing market in 2021 and 2022 became even tighter as more people sought to buy homes with more space to work and accommodate their families and pets.
Additionally, younger people are postponing marriage and children as they focus on financial and career concerns. And, thankfully, attitudes toward pets have become much more humane over the past 60-70 years regarding Fido’s needs. Today, pets are considered part of the family–they have their own beds, toys, clothes, playdates, and special food!
Our pets are considered important members of our family, who have their own set of needs. We now live in an age of multi-specied families.
Understand Your Dog’s Specific Needs
A lot of factors need to be considered regarding the best home that you and Fido may need:
- Size and breed of dog
- Health and physical needs
A younger dog with lot’s of energy may need a place to run around everyday, such as a dog run or a fenced yard. The bigger the dog, the more space he may require. However, some large dogs such as Great Danes, Greyhounds, and Mastiffs are actually quite mellow and do not need a lot of exercise every day. See my post about raising dogs in apartments for more information about raising a dog in a smaller space.
If your dog is older, think about how easy it will be for him to navigate stairs. If he has health problems or physical disabilities, he may have a hard time getting around a multi-level house. Also, senior dogs and puppies may have less control of their bladders and will need quick access to the outside.
The temperament of your dog should be considered. If he is a barker (think dachshund or guard dog), you may need more space apart from your neighbors. Otherwise, you may need to get some help from a good trainer to help with excessive barking problems.
I have been raising two Pug/Cattle Dog mixed breed dogs, and boy, do they like to bark! We live in a townhouse with a small backyard, and it is a challenge to keep up with them and try to keep them quiet. See my post about How to Raise A Cattle Dog in A Townhouse and Small Yard to see how I learned to deal with their herding and barking instincts.
Have Realistic Expectations and Keep an Open Mind
When I first searched for homes several years ago in the San Francisco North Bay Area, I wanted a three-bedroom home for me, and a large, grassy yard for my future dogs. At the time, I lived and worked in Marin County, one of the most expensive places in the country to live.
After searching for almost a year, I was about to give up. But, we discovered a beautiful townhouse just north of Marin in Sonoma County. I had a longer commute and had to forgo the big grassy yard. But I was getting ready to retire from my full-time job and work from home as a consultant. And the townhouse did have a small backyard with a large patio and bushes and plants around the perimeter. I decided it was large enough for smaller dogs that I could adopt when I retired.
So, I gave up some of my expectations about the location and the big, grassy yard. Instead, I checked out the local parks, which were plentiful, close by, and very grassy. I decided that the dogs would have a place to run around, relieve themselves, and we could also go for daily walks at the park. It could work! And, it has! See more about the adoption process of my new dogs in my post, Preparing to Meet My New Dogs
Buy a Pet Friendly Home You Can Dog-Proof
Consider buying a home with tile or hardwood floors. These will be more durable than carpet and accidents can be cleaned up easily. Although a downside to hardwood or laminated floors is being scratched by your dog’s nails. So, make sure you keep them trimmed!
Think about the layout of the house and consider the best areas for your dog to hang out. Some dogs can have free access to all parts of the house. But other dogs may fair better with den-like areas to retreat to. Any, you may need to confine your pooch to certain parts of the house when you are busy or away. Dogs can sometimes get into a bit of mischief when left alone. Be sure to see my post, Can a Dog Open Doors? Be Prepared!
When I moved into my new townhouse, I decided to install Berber carpet in the living room and bedrooms and went for ceramic tile in the other rooms. The Berber has worn well as it is a tough carpet. But accidents were a little more challenging. If you decide to get carpet, find a good eco-carpet cleaner and make him your new best friend!
Yards are great for dogs. Just make sure it has a solid fence, or at least, a fence that can be mended if it has any holes.
When looking at a condo, townhouse, or house in a development with an HOA, be sure to ask about pet policies. Some HOAs have very strict guidelines including how much a dog can weigh and how many pets an owner can have.
Work With a Pet-Friendly Realtor
My Quest to Find the Right Home for Me and My (Future) Dog
When I was searching a few years ago for my current home in the San Francisco, North Bay Area, I was very fortunate to work with a lovely realtor, Gloria Walli. I found Gloria to be a charming person with great integrity! She loved animals and was very sensitive to my needs. Gloria worked with me for almost a year to help me find the best home for my future doggie and me.
It was a challenge due to the hot housing market, limited inventory, and the high cost of housing in this area. But we prevailed. Gloria was always quick to point out features such as a nice grassy area or a fenced backyard with a patio. We ultimately found the perfect fit. Two years later I adopted not just one, but two sweet doggies!
A Pet-Friendly Realtor’s Best Tips
When I checked in with Gloria recently about tips that she gives to her clients, here is what she said:
“In my 18 years of selling homes, a large percentage of my clients either have pets or are looking forward to adopting a pet. The comfort of these family members is one of the most important factors in the choice of their new home. Therefore, I steer them away from barriers that could preclude having pets.
As an example, if buyers are looking at a property with a homeowners’ association, I immediately check if there are pet restrictions. Often this is a deal breaker for clients, and it is better to know before making an offer on a new home.
Other factors that influence which home a buyer would prefer are the type of flooring or stairs which might be difficult for an older pet. I also look for outdoor space, a pet-friendly neighborhood for walks, and pet services nearby. I always suggest that buyers take their pet for a walk in the neighborhood in which they are considering buying before they make a final commitment to purchase.”
When Buying a Home for You and Your Dog Consider Future Needs
My dogs were already 6 years old when I adopted them, so I knew they would not grow bigger. However, I adopted them after I bought my townhouse with a small yard. I had planned on getting one, small dog, and ended up adopting two medium-sized dogs. Fortunately, it has worked out, mostly because Gloria pointed out some of the neighborhood parks where I was able to take my dogs for a walk.
So, if you currently have a puppy and are looking for a home, think about how big your pooch may get and if the home you buy will offer enough space. If your dog has a lot of energy and likes to run, make sure you get a big enough yard with a fence. See my article about Why Dogs Run Back and Forth. Size and space may also be important if you hope to bring more pets into your home at some point. See my post, Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Rescue Dog for more tips.
And lastly, don’t settle for a home that really doesn’t work for you. You may need to forego some of the things on your bucket list, but strive to buy a home for you and your dog that fits at least 90-95% of your needs. Moving again in a few years would not only be stressful for you and your family, but for Fido too! Like us, dogs love their home sweet home and a consistent place to hang their collar!