By Megan Wild, Author of Your Wild Home 

If you’re like most people, your dog is a friend and family member. When you buy a home, you want a place your fluffy friend is going to feel comfortable in. That surely includes a neighborhood that’s dog-friendly.

How can you find the best neighborhood for your dog? That’s a good question. Here are seven tips.

Check Into Laws and Restrictions

Don’t be shocked, but some counties, cities, neighborhoods and residential associations have laws or regulations against pets. They may be against certain animals, specific breeds or a blanket restriction against all animals. Many condominium homeowners’ associations (HOAs), especially, have the latter.

You don’t want to move into a new place and find out your dog isn’t allowed at all. Be sure to start with the county and city and move into neighborhoods and associations. If you need permission from an HOA board, be sure to get it in writing.

neighborhood for your dog

Find Out What You Need for a Permit

While you’re checking into laws and regulations, find out what you need to obtain a dog permit in each neighborhood. You’d be surprised by how much municipalities and locales differ. The expense may differ markedly as well.

Some, for example, simply want proof of rabies shots. Others may want multiple vaccinations and proof of them. There’s no one rule for which is the best for your dog, but you do want to get a permit if one is required in the area you move to.

Explore Whether the Neighborhood Is Pet-Friendly

Take a weekend day to walk around the neighborhood to see whether the neighborhood feels pet-friendly. There’s no one universal sign of this, of course, but it helps to get a sense of whether you and your dog would feel comfortable.

Are there people and dogs strolling around, for example? If so, it’s a sign that your neighbors have pets, so you and your dog will feel at home there. Are dogs snoozing by chairs as their people finish up lunch at a restaurant? Do stores have treats on the counter or signs saying pets welcome? All of these are the type of vibe you’re looking for.

Check the Number and Proximity of Dog Parks

More and more areas are getting dog parks, either as stand-alone places or designated areas of larger parks. These can be great for dogs to get their exercise, and they’re also wonderful ways to meet fellow dog lovers. These parks have dog runs and can have equipment just for them as well.

Check both the number of dog parks in the area you’re thinking of buying a home in and their proximity to your home. In a city like Harrisburg, there are many choices.

neighborhood for your dog

Look at the Local Traffic Patterns

You also want to look at the local traffic around your house. Whenever you and your dog go out, there’s a chance your furry friend will interact with traffic. After all, a passing squirrel could look really good and could cause your dog to dash to his side … across traffic.

Is there traffic that could pose a danger to an off-leash dog, especially an excitable one? Ideally, you want minimal, slow-moving traffic. If that’s not what the neighborhood has, would the amount of traffic be manageable in terms of your dog’s safety?

Think About Whether Your Yard Has a Fence

If your dog is going to play in the yard, it’s a good idea to have it fenced. Is it already fenced, or can it be fenced easily? There are several reasons for having a fence. The first is your fluffy friend’s safety. They won’t be darting into traffic if playing in a fenced-in yard.

The second is that good fences really can make good neighbors. Dogs vary in their flexibility and comfort when it comes to new people, especially children. It may not be a good idea for neighboring children or adults to be able to come into your yard, or have the possibility your dog could enter their yards.

neighborhood for your dog

Look for Pet Services Nearby

It’s likely your dog will need a veterinarian at some point. Will you be traveling to one you already know? If not, it’s a good idea to have one nearby, in case of emergencies and just for the sake of convenience. A groomer close by is also very convenient and can cut down on the stress for your dog if there are travel issues.

Look to see where the nearest pet store is as well. You can drive to these, but the nearer a source of food, toys and necessities is, the better. If you board your dog when you go away on vacations, look to see where the nearest kennel is. You could even make an appointment to tour it.

Your dog is as important as a friend or family member. Be sure to choose a neighborhood where your fluffy friend is welcomed, legal, safe, comfortable and happy using these seven tips.