As any long term tenant knows, it’s hard to keep pets in a rental property. That means that if you want anything larger than a goldfish, you’ll need to own a home of your own.
But if you’re hoping to go straight from the settlement room to the pet shelter, there are a few things to consider first. Will your new home be suitable for a pet?
It’s a great idea to keep the garden in mind when you’re deciding which house to buy. Is there space, shade and security? Some modifications are easier than others to make, so a little preparation now can mean a lot less expense down the track.
Here’s what to keep in mind.
Dogs need outdoor space. While some breeds will be fine in an apartment, they’ll need extra walks compared to those who have a garden to play in.
Fencing and gates
The most important thing for a dog-friendly yard is to make sure that it’s secure. While some breeds are more prone to escaping than others – as any who’s owned a beagle will attest – you run the risk with any dog that’s left outside while you’re out.
Working dog breeds, which include collies, kelpies and Australian Shepherds, are usually excellent jumpers. Research what your breed is capable of and make sure that your fencing is high enough to keep them contained. Don’t forget gates, either: many dogs work out simple mechanisms very quickly, so make sure your gates latch securely and too high up for them to reach.
Now that you have Fido contained, make sure your hard is a safe and fun place for them to play. Dogs tend to eat plants, especially if they’re bored, and some species can be toxic. Check this thorough list of toxic plants if you’re not sure if you’re harbouring dangerous greenery, and consider taking steps to keep pup and plant apart.
If your dog stays outdoors while you’re out, it will need shelter. That means shelter from the sun during warmer months, as well as shelter from rain and wind in winter. Trees should provide enough shade in most circumstances, although some yards do get very hot. If yours doesn’t have a lot of trees, make sure there’s a verandah or outdoor room for your dog to lie in. A small wading pool, available from hardware stores, offers drinking water and entertainment.
In winter, your dog will need a little more than a tree. Build them a kennel if they don’t have a garage or other structure to curl up in, and make sure they have blankets or a warm bed to keep the chill out.
Across Australia, councils are introducing laws that will require cat owners to confine their animals to their own property. These vary both in scope and time. In some council areas, owners will only be required to keep their cats in at night; in others, all the time. Some laws are already in effect, while in other areas you have a while to get adjusted.
There are a number of things you can do to make your life easier, depending on the kind of yard you have. One option, of course, is to keep your cats indoors all the time. However, if you want them to have access to outdoor areas, there are some options on the market.
If you have high fencing, you can make some adjustments to stop your cats leaving the yard. Horizontal ‘spinner’ bars installed across the top of the fence prevents your cats from getting a grip on the fence and getting over. Alternatively, you can add mesh that angles into your yard.
To be effective, you’ll need to make sure there are no overhanging trees near the perimeter of your property. It may also prove expensive if your garden is very large.
If you have a small yard with solid fences, cat nets might be a good solution. These stretch between your house and the property’s borders to create an enclosure that’s not unlike an aviary. Depending on the layout and size of your garden, you can enclose a section or the whole garden.
Not every property is suitable for enclosing. Large yards or those with low or non-existent fencing will need a different solution: a catio. This is a purpose-built enclosure that attaches to your house, usually with a window as the conduit between inside and outside. It offers an enclosed area for your cats to play while enjoying the outside sights and smells.
Make sure your pet has what it needs, and you’ll live a long and happy life together. The local wildlife will thank you as well!