Condo Buildings and Dogs: How to Live in Harmony with Your Furry Neighbours
I’ll never forget the feel of her wet nose, the curly texture of her beautiful dark black hair or the five pound weight of her body which I could gingerly place under my right arm. Her name was Lucy. She was a miniature poodle and the crowning jewel of my new marriage and new one bedroom condo. We bought Lucy five months after we purchased and moved into our matrimonial abode. At first she was a gorgeous little puppy that all of our neighbors adored. They would coo at her, cuddle her, and even buy treats for her. But in the year that she grew into maturity another side to Lucy grew too; she became possessive, anxious and aggressive. She would incessantly bark if she heard anyone walking in the hallway outside our front door. She would shake when people attempted to greet her in the elevator. And after a short while, that shake turned into a snarl and a small snap.
We got Lucy help by reaching out to leading vets and behavioral specialists. However, we quickly learned there was some behaviors that even the best pooch professionals could not curb. Our neighbors began to complain about us to the condo board and give us the cold shoulder. Eventually our little Lucy was brought up during a condo board meeting. I am still grateful that these board members did not amend the condo laws and force us to remove Lucy or stop new pets from being allowed entry into the building, which they had every right to do. They simply gave us a letter of recommendations that we were to follow. They showed my husband and I good faith and in good faith, we tried to follow the letter of recommendations but after a year of trying, let the “Lucy factor” become a determining factor in our move to a semi-detached home.
Right now I am picturing every condo owner reading this who happens to have a little pup at home, wide-eyed and full of fear. I share this story to actually be an encouragement. I want to encourage condo owners reading this, whether they are the dog owner, or the neighbor putting up with the loud dog who lives in the condo unit next to them, that condo dwellers can take proactive steps and work together peacefully to resolve issues regarding dogs in condo buildings.
First, let me address the dog lovers. So you have a beloved pooch of five years and you are looking for a new condo home. I would suggest that you look for a condo building that has more than it’s fair share of dogs in it. Why do I say this? I say this because this means you and your pup will be in a dog-loving majority. This creates an environment of people who are understanding about dog gaffes and issues. Moreover, your condo board will be less likely to put rules in place that negatively affect your dog or the future of dogs in the building, which they are absolutely allowed to do! If you are not sure where to look to find a condo building that has a high pooch quota then ask an experienced real estate agent because she or he will be able to point you in the right direction.
Now say you are the dog owner who has just moved into your new condo, which is currently a dog friendly building. Here are some great rules to follow to help your condo community remain dog friendly. Be sure to take your dog out for walks regularly so that they are less yappy and anxious. This way they will bark less if they hear someone in the halls outside your door or when they see your neighbors in the elevator and in other common areas. Make sure to muzzle your dog if it is has had any aggressive incidents and consider various resources, training and even medication if suggested by a well-respected vet. Do not use your porch as your dog pen and leave your little pup out there for hours. This is unkind and precarious for all involved. Finally, Please do not sweep your dog doo doo off your porch and accidently onto your neighbor’s below. This is a huge deal-breaker for so many condo owners who try to be kind about dogs in the building.
For those of you who are condo dwellers and you do not have dogs but are dealing with loud barking, aggressive dog behavior or unsightly soiling. Please be patient. Please speak to your dog-loving neighbors directly if you can. If not, write a complaint to your board but try to be open to working towards a solution that is good for all parties involved; those with pup and those without. Dog issues can be resolved but it takes dedication, patience and a whole condo building’s worth of good will.
Lara Brighton is a journalist and real estate aficionado living in Toronto.