Before you welcome a canine companion into your small space, you might want to consider these helpful tips.
As the number of Canadians living in condominiums has skyrocketed, so has the number of pets making their home in the sky, too. More and more developers are realizing that, far from forbidding pets, promoting pet ownership can offer a competitive advantage, and are offering everything from rooftop dog runs and in-house doggie spas with showers, to outdoor pet parks complete with fake tree stumps. Still, there are some things to consider carefully if you want to share condo life with a doggy roommate.
Photo: Tracey Ayton
1 Perhaps the most important factor, right off the bat, is to fully inform yourself about your building’s rules regarding pets in the home. Some forbid pets of any kind (except perhaps birds, lizards, hedgehogs and other small caged pets); others allow cats but not dogs; some restrict the size of dogs allowed; a growing number are completely open, as long as you adhere to certain training and anti-nuisance rules.
2 There are instances, especially with older buildings, where there may be a no-pets rule but it is not enforced, and numerous pets live in the building anyway. Be wary of such a situation; if there is a complaint against your pet, you have little to no legal recourse if you are ordered to remove it or sell your unit. Even buildings that do allow pets can order you to remove your pet if there is a complaint and the board rules against you.
3 What if you have a dispute with a neighbour over your pet? As with other disputes between neighbours, the proper place to go first is the condo board, which can apply a number of remedies ranging from simply mediating and resolving the dispute, or requiring modifications to the pet owner’s behaviour (such as enrolling the pet in pet training, or better supervision), to forcing the removal of the pet – or even the owner. There was a case in Toronto not long ago where a woman whose Rottweilers regularly menaced the neighbours was essentially evicted and forced to sell her condo unit.
Photo: Donna Griffith
4 As dogs are becoming more popular than ever in urban areas, so are off-leash areas, parks, and fenced-in dog runs. With the exception of designated off-leash areas, be conscientious about keeping your dog on their leash at all times outside your unit. It’s safer for the dog to have the proper pet accessories, more considerate to the neighbours (and their dogs), and it’s the law.
5 Some dog breeds are better suited to a small condo interior than others. While generally, smaller dogs don’t need as much space or exercise as larger breeds, there are some exceptions. Greyhounds and Newfoundlands, for example, are rather staid fellows, whereas a Fox Terrier can be a little bundle of energy.
6 The lower the floor you’re on, the better: if your dog has to get outside now or risk anointing your carpet, it’s a lot faster to go down four floors than 20. Never consider your balcony as an emergency pet bathroom, or you’ll soon earn the wrath (and possibly a formal complaint) from the owner below you.
7 Make sure your dog is well trained and well socialized. In a condo, he’ll meet many more people and dogs than in the average suburb, and a dog who is fearful, aggressive or undisciplined will quickly become a problem both for you and your neighbours.
8 Seriously reconsider getting a dog if you have to leave him alone all day. It’s lonely for your dog, and can lead to behaviour problems such as barking, chewing furniture and indoor wetting (or worse). If you can’t arrange doggie daycare or at least regular visits from a walker or sitter, get a cat instead.