Whether you’re planning to rent or buy an apartment or home, it’s important to find a dog-friendly neighborhood that suits your style. If you’re one of the more than 100 million Americans who live with a dog (or two, or three…), locating the right area can make house hunting a daunting task. Groomers, general practice veterinarians (as well as emergency clinics), and pet stores are essentials found in most communities. But, if you’re specifically looking for a neighborhood that easily accommodates your canine companion, here’s what you should keep an eye out for.
While it’s easy to dismiss sidewalks as a “nice to have” feature, if you’re a dog owner, put this at the top of your must-have list. Wide, well-paved, brightly lit sidewalks are essential for enjoyable walks around the neighborhood, especially in those predawn or late evening hours.
If you live in a suburb, we don’t condone throwing your dog’s poop bag in your neighbor’s trash bin. But if you reside in a city, frequent garbage cans set you and your pup up for a more pleasant walk that doesn’t include carting “goodies” home for disposal. If you see a fully decked-out doggy station, complete with disposable bags and a garbage pail, you know you’ve hit the jackpot.
Many food establishments are opening their doors to four-legged customers. A lot of restaurants have patio seating with room for pups, and you might even find dog-friendly menu items. Some neighborhoods have even upped their game by offering dedicated doggy food trucks!
Perhaps the best indicator of a dog-friendly neighborhood is the presence of other dogs. Check out your desired neighborhood early in the morning (before the 9-5 crowd has left for the day). If you see happy dogs taking their humans for a walk, you’ll fit right in with your pup. Aside from the number of dogs, take a look at the breeds, along with their overall well-being. A neighborhood with a variety of breeds speaks to a general dog-savvy population. Happy, healthy dogs with an overall balanced temperament can signal that playdates will be plentiful.
If you’re unable to visit a neighborhood outside of traditional work hours, check out front and backyards of homes in the area as best you can (we’re not suggesting you trespass!) Houses with dog toys, well-maintained fences, and doggy doors are good signs.
Cookies and Water Bowls
If your neighborhood is dog-friendly, you’ll see bowls filled with clean, fresh water outside shops and businesses. And don’t be surprised to see artisan dog cookies at cash registers. Additionally, parks will often have multi-tiered water fountains, with a separate spout just for pups that’s lower to the ground.
Transit and Taxis
If you typically drive everywhere, you might overlook the role of transit in your search. But in an urban area, pet-friendly transportation can mean day trips to nearby beaches, farmer’s markets, breed get-togethers, and more. Check with the local transit authority for rules and applicable bylaws. Some cities, like New York, allow any dog on the subway that can fit in a bag/carrier (prompting some large-breed owners to become very creative).
Choosing a dog-friendly neighborhood doesn’t have to be stressful. Do a little research before your move, and relax knowing that even if your new home doesn’t feature all seven of the things listed above, your pup will be content as long as you’re there!