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Transitioning Dogs Into Community Living

by Barry KuKes

If you have just moved into an apartment complex or a home that is part of a homeowners’ association (HOA), and you have a dog, then you probably know that there are rules that govern the keeping of pets in your community. While rules vary from community to community, basic rules usually include the requirement to register pets, enforce cleanup, and keep dogs on-leash. While this is all well and good for the human beings in the house, the question of how to ensure your dog is happy in your new set-up is up to you. The following ideas may help ease his transition.

Checking Out Your HOA Rules
HOA communities have an elected governing body made up of members of the community itself. In many states, part of the home buying process involves obtaining HOA rules and reviewing them. Make sure to read the regulations pertaining to pets. HOA rules are usually fair, practical, and reasonable. However, they may limit the type and number of pets you can have, so don’t move in if it means having to move out soon after because your pet will not be welcome there. Don’t worry about rules being subsequently changed, since rules are rarely retroactively enforced in communities.

Moving To A Dog-Friendly Apartment
Only you know your dog and their needs, and your new home should be a good match. For instance, if your dog is a senior and is new to taking more frequent potty breaks, then the ideal situation is to be on the ground floor and have a small outdoor garden. If this is unavailable, then choose an apartment or home that has plenty of green, dog-friendly spaces and a dog park, so that taking your dog out is easy and quick. Some dogs are very sensitive to noise; others bark. If noise levels are an issue for your dog (or you think they could become a problem for your neighbors), then choosing a well-insulated, soundproof home can help bring greater calm to pets and humans alike.

Investing In Key Equipment
If you live in a very cold or hot area, then investing in indoor exercise equipment for your pooch can ensure they stay active even when the weather is unfriendly. Ideas to keep them on their toes include a doggy treadmill, an inflatable pool (for placement on an outdoor terrace), and toys such as interactive treat toys. The latter engage your dog’s problem-solving skills and can help keep their mind on completing tasks, so they are less aware of the sounds and people passing by outside your home.

Finding Natural Ways To Calm Your Dog
Your dog may be a little anxious on their first day in your new apartment. If so, just a few methods that some find successful include dog-appeasing pheromones, which naturally calm down nerves. These can usually be provided in collar or spray form. Thunder Shirt, a vest that hugs your dog, can be useful for dogs who have separation anxiety and those who are afraid of noises. Finally, studies have shown that classical music can have a calming effect on dogs, while heavy metal music can have the opposite effect.

Helping your dog adapt to community living can take time and patience. The most crucial step involves finding out what is allowed and what is prohibited in your new home by reading the HOA rules and regulations. You should also choose a home in a relatively quiet area with numerous green spaces for your dog to exercise and relax in.

Remember, adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach. He can be reached at 386.274.4703, ext. 320, or at barryk@hali