You’re moving! With so many options and variables to consider, house-hunting can be an exciting and overwhelming endeavor. Add multiple family members and their opinions and it’s easy for things to get complicated and stressful.
As you dream of features, floor plans and mutual agreement, do you wonder what your dog would wish for? He might not be as vocal in his opinion, but given the chance, what would he include on his New Home Wish List?
Maybe a big backyard? Plenty of windows to look out during the day? Carpet to pee on? Proximity to a dog park?
Use these five diagnostic questions to find out what he really wants in the new house:
1) What kind of environment does my dog currently call home?
Single-family dwelling? Apartment complex? Mobile home on acreage? Penthouse in the heart of downtown?
Different home environments unavoidably foster different lifestyles. What does your dog’s life look right now?
2) How is my dog doing in his current home environment?
Thriving? Just getting by? Struggling?
Once you identify where he’s been living, look at how he’s been living. This is more about his state of mind than about the specifics of his day.
(PRO TIP: canine stress or anxiety can be subtle. Hyperactivity, little to no sleep during the day, and frequent panting can actually be signs of general stress. Learn more with the “Guide to Stress Signals in Dogs”)
3) What bothers my dog?
Traffic? Strangers? Deliveries? Strange noises? People walking by outside the house?
If your dog is terrified of the traffic he encounters every time he toilets outside your downtown apartment, moving to a quiet cul-de-sac could greatly improve his quality of life.
4) What does my dog enjoy?
Exploring off-leash? Hiking? Relaxing at a patio restaurant? Cuddling on the couch for a Netflix night?
Check out Is My Dog Happy?
5) Does my dog have any current behavior problems?
Stranger-Danger? Leash-pulling or leash aggression? Barking? Digging?
Does Fido think every other dog is his mortal enemy and goes to great lengths to let them know as such? Moving to an apartment where all his toilet breaks include seeing 5-10 other dogs would be extremely challenging for both of you.
I’ve got answers, now what?
Construct a hypothetical “ideal” home for Fido based on the answers.
Examine the similarities and/or differences between the available properties and his “ideal.”
If the new home includes things he struggles with, how easy would it be to avoid those things on a daily basis for an indefinite period of time? (This is called ‘management;’ read about The Almost No-Work Way to Fix Behavior Problems)
If the struggles cannot be avoided, how much time and energy would training new habits and behaviors require? Much like your own Wish List, there are some things that are easy to change, and some that are challenging if not impossible. Replacing carpet with hardwood floors is a relatively simple fix. Relocating a home from the middle of the block to your dream corner lot is a much more ambitious and costly venture.
If training new habits and behaviors is not an option, what kind of quality of life are we both signing up for? (Living with behavior problems is hard on the human half of the relationship too!)
Is the home/environment/location conducive to engaging in activities he enjoys?