Canada's Condominium Magazine
The world of pet owners is often vastly different than that of everyone else, especially if those pets happen to be cats or dogs. Fish, reptiles, rodents, and amphibians are relatively small and do not get in the way. Cats and dogs, however, are larger and prefer more freedom to play and romp. Dogs are taken outside to walk and heed nature’s call.
Dogs bark, cats meow, and neighbours complain. It is a fact of life, especially when living in close quarters. So how can you maintain peace and happiness within your community if you share your heart and home with these furry creatures?
First — the rules and regs
The first step is obviously to get the most important details out of the way prior to moving in. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with any rules and regulations regarding pets. Do they even allow pets, or do the condominium bylaws prohibit them? Are the building and community pet-friendly? Are there any breed restrictions? Do they allow some pets but not others?
Some places allow dogs and other pets but do not allow cats. Alternately, some allow small pets, but large dogs are forbidden. Some draw the line at creepy crawly pets that may escape from their tanks and find their way into the homes of other residents. Be sure you know which pets are allowed, if any.
Do not just assume the rules based on other tenants and their pets. Although it can be a good indicator, it is not the final word. The person you see with multiple pets may not actually own them all. They may just be a dog walker helping out fellow neighbours. The building may have changed management and therefore changed rules regarding pet ownership, but the tenant in question was grandfathered into the old system and thus not forced to give up his or her pets. Always be sure to ask management directly when inquiring about rules, restrictions, and limits. Also, you should consider the size of your home and the feasibility of keeping any pets there, now or in the future. If it is too small to accommodate your entire family, including pets, then you should look elsewhere.
The cardinal rule — stoop and scoop!
If the community is pet-friendly, find out what additional features they offer to accommodate pets. Is there a dog walk or a pet park? Do they have receptacles and bags strategically placed in order to appropriately discard waste?
Never take your pet out for a walk without cleaning up after them. That is the fastest way to become ostracized within your community, not to mention it could cause pets to become banned altogether and even cause health issues. Plus, it is disgusting. Seriously, clean up after your pets.
Make sure that you give visual and verbal warnings if your pet is not child-friendly or if they are prone to biting or attacking when frightened. Service animals wear vests when they are working so people know not to approach or pet them. They need to be focused on their human and taking care of them, so they cannot be distracted. The vests offer visual cues that let others know these pets are off-limits. Likewise, animals that pose threats should also have these visual cues. The most widely used sign is a yellow ribbon.
Colour coding and other safety tips
Tying a yellow ribbon to an animal’s collar lets others know that the animal may be: bad with children, easily excitable, prone to biting or attacking, dealing with fear or anxiety issues, new to the handler (and therefore wary of others, or the owner may not yet know if the animal is safe), under medical care, etc. The yellow ribbon is a multi-purpose warning that tells others to proceed with caution. If your pet is having a hard time adjusting to new surroundings or has any issues that may pose a risk to them or others, then tying a yellow ribbon around his or her collar will ensure everyone’s safety and happiness.
Be sure to communicate as well. If a child excitedly approaches you and asks to pet your dog, simply saying “no!” may not work. They may think, “But why not? He is so cute! It will not hurt to pet him!” They may reach out to try anyway. The child may also just think you are being mean. They do not always understand the risks involved in approaching strange animals.
Instead of just saying no, try something like, “I would let you, but he is not great with kids. He might bite you.” It’s better to be direct and explain the situation, whatever it may be, so they know why you are saying no. They will be more likely to listen instead of trying to sneak in a belly rub while you are not looking.
Not everyone loves dogs as much as you do
If your pet has not had a lot of experience being close to so many people at once, then it would be a good idea to begin socializing them more and getting them used to being around people. Start small and gradually work them up to larger and larger crowds until they are comfortable enough that they could easily handle condo living. You certainly do not want to thrust them into a drastically different environment without first preparing them for the change. That could cause a lot of stress and anxiety for the animal, which could result in poor health and a change in attitude. An animal that is normally very relaxed and happy may become closed-off and aggressive.
If you have an overly excited dog that loves children and is very friendly and outgoing, then that is great. However, you should be aware that not everyone loves dogs as much as you do. As a pet owner, that is difficult to comprehend, but a lot of people hate animals and do not want them around. Therefore, it is in your furry companion’s best interest that you train him or her to gauge people’s reactions and wait until they are approached before being friendly and outgoing. If your neighbour is happy to see your pooch and offers to pet them, allow it and let your dog have fun.
If your neighbour seems displeased at the sight of your four-legged friend, then it is best to avoid them when you are out together.
Communicate with the neighbour later when you do not have your pet with you so that you can find out about any allergies or whether they simply do not like animals. Do your best to keep your pets away from those neighbours, and be sure to keep them quiet.
No matter how much we love animals, nobody likes hearing them bark or whine at all hours. Visit the elderly and any other residents who could benefit from some good, old-fashioned pet therapy. Being able to spend time with new furry friends and play with them can provide so much joy. Not everyone is able to afford or take care of pets themselves, so having a kind neighbour who stops by with their pets for a visit from time to time is very much appreciated. Plus, it may lead to some new, incredible friendships.
Teach your pet how to act when riding on elevators. They may be scary to them at first. Even if they are not scared by them, they will not understand them or their use. It is up to you to train them.
They should sit still next to you, with their gaze focused on you so that they can look for cues that it is time to get on or off the elevator. That way, there is no risk of losing your pet or having them get injured as they dart out of the elevator just before it closes. This also ensures that they will remain at your side so as not to frighten children or bother anyone else.
Cats do well in condos — if allowed
Cats are excellent pets to have in a condo, as long as they are allowed. Some places do not allow them because of allergies. Cats do not require a great deal of exercise, they are often indoor pets, they are relatively neat, and they are quiet. They are ideal pets to own if you live in a condo.
You should still take care to make sure they do not sneak out while you have the door open, and you need to warn any visitors that you have a cat (or any pet, for that matter) in case of allergies.
Keeping your cat happy is easy. All you need to do is provide the necessities (food, water, a scratching post, kitty litter, etc.). As a bonus, create a custom cat walk along your wall so your cat can explore and climb without damaging personal property. Some condo owners even include a cage attached to their window so their cats can get fresh air without having to leave the apartment. Cat parks are also great for allowing them to play and socialize, while keeping them away from neighbours who may be allergic to them or simply do not like them.
Keeping it quiet and talking to your neighbours
Regardless of the type or number of pets you own, keeping them and your neighbours happy is easy as long as you are willing to put forth the effort. Take care of your pets, provide them with everything they need to be happy, and keep them quiet and out of people’s way.
Talk to your neighbours to make agreements with them so that you do not inconvenience them. Let them know that you have pets, what kind, and what their personalities are. That way, your neighbours know what to expect.
If your pet is particularly noisy, offer your neighbours something that will benefit them and balance the negative with something positive. Offer to babysit their kids while they go out, walk their pets for them, or assist them with anything they might need. Being proactive will go a long way in resolving conflicts before they even start and making sure that you establish a mutually-beneficial relationship with your neighbours. Everyone is satisfied, and you can rest assured that you and your pets are welcomed within your new community.