Making your pet’s transition to condo life easier



Make sure Spot ... or Kitty or Polly is welcome into your new abode before you sign on the dotted line. Find out by checking your condo’s declaration and rules.


Moving to a condo? Ready for the urban life? Good for you! But what about Spot? Does he think you’re barking up the wrong tree? Relocating family pets can be a challenge but, with a little patience and understanding, you can ease your friend’s stress. Whether you are packing up with your pet or thinking of acquiring a new companion when you move, there are a few very important points you must consider.


First things first. When buying a condominium, there are two places to look for rules regarding pets —the declaration, which is created at the time of registering the condo, and the rules dictated by the condominium board. The restrictions stated in the rules may differ from those in the declaration. The rules may prohibit pets entirely or permit only pets under a certain weight (cute little puppies can grow into heavyweight contenders) or only a certain number or species of pets. However, the specifications in the declaration always override the rules. It is therefore essential that buyers read the fine print. These are legally binding documents and failure to comply with the agreements could result in a trip to court.

“Pets in condos are a major issue not only legally but emotionally,” says Denise Lash, a condominium lawyer and host of the television show Mondo Condo.

As many pet owners will attest, their furry or feathered friends are like children to them. Having to choose between your pet and your home can be heartbreaking, so you must make sure that Spot, Kitty or Polly will be welcome before you sign on the dotted line.

Many condominium buildings do make special efforts to be pet-welcoming and this, says Lash, may be due in part to the baby boomer generation. More empty nesters are downsizing or urbanizing and bringing their companion critters with them. To attract this clientele, many condos are providing dog-friendly outdoor spaces and some even offer an in-house spa for the pampered pooch.

But even in pet-friendly buildings there are common sense rules to follow. Complaints from your neighbours about badly behaved animals could result in the condo board requesting permanent removal of the offending character.

The most common complaint is barking dogs. One dog barking can cause a chain reaction up and down the halls, making life quite intolerable for all concerned.

So, who you gonna call?

Jeff Cooke, president of Bark Busters Canada, says much of the barking is due to separation anxiety but he has the solution. Bark Busters will come to your home and, in the space of about three hours, work with your pet, helping him understand acceptable behaviour and enabling the dog to settle comfortably into the new environment. Cooke claims an 80 per cent success rate and their service comes with a lifetime guarantee.

Day care is another option to consider if Spot is bored with his new surroundings. It’s A Dog’s Life Inc. in Toronto is a full service doggy company.

“Our goal is to enhance the lives of urban dogs,” says owner Cheryl Caswell. Her company provides the opportunity for socializing and exercise, giving you peace of mind that your pup is having fun.

An unhappy cat can also cause a great deal of distress. If your feline is used to spending time outdoors, the transition to a condo, where she is unable to even see the birds, may be a difficult one. In her very enlightening book, Cat Confidential, Vicky Halls offers a host of ideas for stimulating and entertaining the dissatisfied cat. She suggests strategically placing paper bags and cardboard boxes containing dried foot or catnip in various locations around the home. Kitty can hunt and forage and keep herself occupied nicely. A busy cat is a happy cat and less likely to wreak havoc. As Halls cautions, “the devil makes work for idle paws.”

Moving can be a challenging and exciting experience for you and your pet. Your furry or feathered friends will take their cue from your feelings: picking up your positive vibes will help them feel safe and comfortable in their new surroundings.