By Bob Walsmith Jr.
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors
For most of us, our pets are family. We let them sleep in our beds, ladle nutritional supplements on their organic kibble, and throw birthday parties for them. In fact, we love our animal companions so much that we even choose a home and a home design for pets.
These numbers tell the story. Forty-three percent of pet owners say they’d move to accommodate their pet, according to a 2021 study from the National Association of Realtors. What’s more, 68% of pet owners surveyed by Realtor.com say they’d pass on an otherwise perfect home that didn’t meet their pet’s needs.
Here are some pet-friendly features that will make a home more welcoming for animals.
#1 A Pet Bathing Station
Washing a dog in a normal bathtub can be miserable. Even if your pups are groomed regularly, you still need to clean them up after they romp at the dog park or roll in mud in the yard. One solution is to build a grooming station in your home for quick cleanups. For larger dogs, you can install a commercial grooming tub with a hand sprayer or a walk-in shower that will accommodate your pet. The location is flexible: A grooming station can go in a laundry room, mudroom, or garage.
#2 Pet Proof Flooring
Accidents happen, even with the best-behaved pets. That’s why floors with a hard, waterproof surface make your life easier. Think tile, hardwood, terrazzo, cement, or laminate. Stay away from wall-to-wall carpet. Carpets soak up pet stains, so they’re a bad idea. Adding wood floors to your home increases monetary value, too.
#3 Built-In Pet Beds
Pet beds tossed about your house are unattractive and consume valuable floor space. The alternative is building pet beds into cabinets, shelves, and other pieces of furniture. You can build a pet bed into the bottom shelves of a bookcase or into a kitchen or mudroom cabinet. Or tuck it under the stairs. If hiring a cabinetmaker or carpenter to build a seamless pet bed isn’t in your budget, you can also buy pet beds that look like furniture.
#4 Built-In Pet Gates
You don’t want your pets to go into certain places in your home, and most of us keep them out with baby gates. Plastic baby gates are flimsy and unattractive. A better option is a built-in gate. You can hire a cabinetmaker to build a custom pet gate for a door that’s mounted to a door jamb on hinges. Or consider pre-made upscale pet gates that you can mount to a door jamb or staircase.
#5 Outdoor Ramp
Just like humans, dogs and cats can get too old to easily navigate stairs. If stairs are separating your pet from the outdoors, build a ramp from the door to the yard to make your house accessible as they age. Be sure you design the ramp at an angle they can navigate. Small or short-legged dogs — like basset hounds and corgis — may need a ramp to navigate stairs even when they’re young.
#6 Enclosed Cat Patio
Also called a catio (cat + patio,) these outdoor enclosures provide a safe place for your cat to play outside. The structure, with a roof and four walls, keeps your cat safe and unable to harm wildlife. Catios can range from window-box sized ones to lanai-sized ones large enough to enclose a patio with human seating.
#7 Built-In Pet Doors
Those pet doors with the rubber flaps and plastic frames that you hack into a door can be flimsy and straight-up ugly. Fortunately, sturdier and more aesthetically pleasing alternatives are available. You can get exterior doors with built-in pet doors. Integrating a pet door into your home’s design is better for you and your pup because it’s more permanent, secure, and lovely.
#8 Fenced-In Yard
A fenced-in yard is near the top of most clients’ list when they’re looking for dog-friendly features. There’s no substitute for a safe place for your animals to spend time outdoors.
Bob Walsmith Jr. is a native to Southern California and a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara. During his work with the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Bob has served on the CORE Committee, Education Committee, been Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and the Multiple Listing Service Committee. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara. Bob lives in Goleta with his beautiful wife Julie. When not working, Bob enjoys playing golf, fine wine, fine dining, and walking our beautiful coastline. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org