Getting your home pet-ready

Private Property South Africa
Cath Jenkin

Ready to expand your family? Use our handy checklist to get your home and family pet-ready.

Check the Rules

Before you head off to your local animal shelter, or start searching Facebook pages for your perfect pet, you’ll need to ensure that your home is well-suited for your new friend. Before you begin thinking about pet proofing, make sure you’re allowed to keep your new pet. Here’s what to check:

  • If you rent your home, you’ll need to check the terms and conditions of your lease. Most rental agreements for pet-friendly properties will include some exclusions, and limit the number of pets you are allowed to have in your home. There may be exclusions for certain types of pets, and allowances for others.
  • If you live in a complex, or sectional title property, you’ll need to check with your Body Corporate to ensure you are allowed to have a particular type of pet, and just how many you can welcome into your home. You may have to apply for written permission to adopt a pet.
  • If you live in a gated estate, you’ll need to check your estate rules, and obtain written permission from your Residents’ Association or Managing Agent. Many gated estates have rules and restrictions relating to the size, number, and type, of pet you may adopt.

Pet Friendly, or Pet Appropriate?

If you’re moving home, just so you can expand your family to include a pet, it’s best to check that the property you choose is not just pet friendly, but that it’s pet appropriate too. A property may be considered pet friendly if it has a fence, but it may not be pet appropriate if your dog is a large breed hound.

A New Home for Your Buddy

Getting your home pet ready doesn’t only involve buying a new kennel, hutch, cage, and the right type of pet food. Depending on the type of pet you’re looking to adopt, you’ll also need to check:

  • Fittings and furnishings: Puppies, kittens, and rabbits, are gleeful chewers and gnawers of cables, soft furnishings and - of course - that sentimentally important cushion you proudly display on the couch. Get down to your pet’s level and find things that they may find ‘attractive’ for chewing or playing with. In particular, make sure electrical cables and plug points are well-secured, and out of the way of over-eager eyeballs.
  • Space and suitability: A large yard is imperative if you’re looking to adopt a big dog, but it’s not as important if you’re adopting a small breed. Similarly, if you’re adopting a kitten, you’ll need to have a secure room dedicated to them for the first few weeks, so that they can easily adjust to their new surroundings, without going wandering. If you have a small-sized home, it would be impossible to accommodate the needs of a large dog, so think carefully about your pet preferences and the type of home you have.

Read more: Tips for keeping pets in smaller homes

Upgrading Your Space

Once you’ve decided on the type of pet you’d like to adopt, it’s time to upgrade your space. Consult with your local pet store, veterinarian, or rescue organisation, to find out more about the needs of your prospective pet. They’ll be more than equipped to advise you in terms of your needs. Don’t forget to:

  • Check your fencing: Adding a pet to your family is a joyful experience, but heartbreaking if they go missing. Make sure your fencing and walls truly secure your garden, and that your pet can’t dig under the fence to escape. Dogs and rabbits are famed for their escape attempts.
  • Check your doors and gates: A faulty driveway gate isn’t just annoying - it’s a hazard, especially if you have pets. Check that your gates, doors, and similar fittings work effectively, and that your pet will be secured in your home even when you’re not there.
  • Check your swimming pool: Don’t take anything for granted - some pets may be great swimmers, but that doesn’t mean they should be left to do it unsupervised. If you have a swimming pool, make sure a net is installed and functioning well.

Adjusting your Lifestyle

Different types of pets have different types of needs when it comes to rest, play, exercise, and care. Find out just how much you’ll need to adjust your lifestyle, before you commit to adopting a pet. Every dog (yes, even the small breeds) needs to be walked, and every kitten needs to enjoy playtime. Pets are companion animals, and you’ll also need someone to be at home with them for the first few days or weeks, while they settle in to their new home. You may need to take time off work for the first few days, and you may need to sign your new pet up for training classes. Make sure you can do it all!

Don’t Take Shortcuts

Responsible pet ownership starts with how you add a pet to your family, and continues through every moment of your pet’s life. Make sure you:

  • Take your pet for any necessary vaccinations and health checks
  • Have ensured they can be identified if lost, and that it’s easy to contact you if your pet is found - microchipping is recommended for cats and dogs.
  • Are you ready to commit - owning a pet is a responsibility for the whole family to get involved in.
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