If your family includes one or more dogs, your house-hunting checklist will probably include some very pet-specific features.

While these wish-list items are not absolutely essential to everyone, they will help make pet ownership more pleasurable and hassle-free for both you and your dog.

Large, fenced-in backyard: Since dogs love to run, play, and exercise, a spacious backyard is a desirable aspect of a new home. Kids love them, too! Fenced-in yards are ideal for families with dogs, since it helps prevent your pet from wandering away, bothering your neighbors, or straying into traffic. A solid, well-maintained fence can also help protect pets from wildlife, such as coyotes, raccoons, and foxes. Although gaps at the bottom of the fence need to be blocked to prevent small animals and pets from going in or out, a well-maintained fence can provide a lot of protection, security, and privacy. If your dog happens to be a loud or frequent barker, it would also be beneficial to find a house that is sufficiently spaced from other homes in the immediate area. (For many suburban house hunters, that’s already a strong preference!)

Walkable neighborhood: One of the many advantages of dog ownership is that it helps motivate you and your family to get some regular exercise. Since dogs love to go for daily walks with their owners, an ideal neighborhood would offer one or more of the following features: residential streets with light traffic, sidewalks, or easy access to a public park. If a neighborhood you’re considering has a designated dog park nearby, that’s another desirable amenity to keep in mind. While not all dogs (or owners) feel comfortable in dog parks, others thrive in that environment.

Dog-friendly flooring: Dogs bring a lot of positive qualities into our lives, but neatness is rarely one of them! Even the most well-trained dogs have a messy accident every once in a while, so certain kinds of flooring are less desirable than others. Carpeting and pets are almost never a good combination — especially if the carpeting isn’t stain resistant and darkly colored. All types of flooring have their pros and cons, but some materials are easier to clean, more scratch resistant, and less prone to water damage. Those include vinyl, stone tiles, and laminate flooring, If hardwood is your flooring material of choice, then a coating of urethane will make it more resistant to stains, spills, and scratches.

From a convenience standpoint, it’s also desirable to buy a house that’s relatively close to essential services, such as a veterinary clinic, boarding facility, and grooming services. When moving to a new community, it’s always a good idea to check on any local regulations, licensing requirements, and restrictions that might apply to your four-legged companion(s). Much of that information can usually be gleaned from town, municipal, or HOA websites.

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