Dog owners: What to consider when buying a house

By Laura Kapp

July 2018

I unexpectedly became a dog mom several years ago when my husband brought home a golden retriever puppy named Phoebe.  She was the Best Dog Ever. When Paddy Murfy joined the family, we learned A LOT more about dog ownership and homeownership at the same time. Paddy Murfy is a big guy (95-pound Fox Red Labrador retriever) with a big personality to match. 

Paddy Murfy offers these tips for dog owners planning on buying a house and wondering what to look for.

A big yard would be nice.

At least, look for a yard that matches your dog’s size, energy level and “output.” A yard with a fence would be even better, for both you and your dog. If you find the perfect house with the perfect yard, but need to add a fence, check with the local municipality about their fence laws. You may need a permit and permission from the neighbors.

Look for a neighborhood that has dog-friendly parks.

There is a city near us that has No Dogs Allowed signs posted in all parks. We would never live there. We found a house near an actual dog park, where dogs can run and play with each other off-leash. Dog heaven!

How close is the house to an animal clinic?

A friend bought her house within walking distance of their vet, because her dog gets so anxious riding in cars.

How close is the house to a 24-hour emergency animal hospital?

We take really good care of our pets but accidents happen, especially when your dog is part goat. Paddy considers anything a snack, including shoe inserts, moldy bones, bottle caps, carrots, pillows, cats and aluminum cans — (how did he know which cans contained cat food?). Other Labrador retriever owners are nodding their heads right now. The hospital is 5 miles from our house. They know us.

Dog-friendly neighbors are important.

Take your dog for a walk in your target neighborhood.  It’s a good sign if there are other dog walkers around or if people come out to say “hi” and give your dog a pat. In our neighborhood, we share dog care during vacations and in emergencies. And if a dog goes missing?! The whole neighborhood rallies to find her.

Is there a dog-walking service in the area?

My husband and I both work outside our home, so it would be a long day for our dogs without our reliable dog walker!

A walk-in shower with detachable sprayer is soooo handy.

This is not a deal breaker when buying a house, but hey, it sure comes in handy when your dog rolls in mud – or worse, turkey poop. Just think – no lifting into a tub. Dogs walk right into the shower (especially if a hot dog is involved).

If you and your dog have other tips to share, we would love to hear them!


It's so nice to see that someone else is basing their buying decisions around pet ownership! These things are very important to us and are part of the reason we have decided to buy instead of continuing to rent.

John Roth

I do not have a dog

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Laura Kapp is the former creative director of the writing and design team at MGIC. Now she works from her 1958-ranch-style home, accompanied by dust bunnies. Her messy home office proves the saying, “Creative minds are rarely tidy.”
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