Homeownership and owning a family pet go hand in hand. We all grew up with visions of living the American Dream:  2.3 children, white picket fence surrounding a split-level house with a dog, a cat, and a minivan to take the kids to sports practice and the dogs to the park. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over 40 million U.S. households have companion animals (dogs, cats and/or birds) within the home.

Pet stats

Yes, we love our pets and we will do anything for them. The same goes for buyers. Most of them either have dogs or plan to get one, but when considering a new home, your pets may be an issue.

When listing a home, your goal is to present it in the best way possible and with pets, you never really know what to expect. Here are a few suggestions that can help:

Send them to Grandma’s

When a potential buyer walks into your home, the first thing they detect is the smell. It’s just how people operate. You want them to walk in and smell vanilla or cookies. Something that brings back good memories and happy thoughts. The last thing you want is to have them walk in right after Fluffy took care of business in the cat box. To prevent this, ask a family member or a friend if your dog(s) and/or cat(s) can spend some time at their house. Ask a family member to watch them while listing or take advantage of a local day boarding facility. That way they are out of the way and your home is smelling GREAT! If you’re leaving them with a friend or family, offer to slip them a few bucks and provide them with a new cat box and all the things they need to get them set up. Get your dog a Kong toy and show them how to stuff it with peanut butter mixture. You may have to split them up if you have several, but this will prevent any embarrassing moments and ensure those buyers walk int a fresh and clean smelling home.

Clean, Clean, Clean

There are 3 things you need to get rid of before one-person steps in the home:

  • Hair-two reasons you want to get rid of all the hair. 1) it’s an allergen and if a buyer walks in and starts breaking out or sneezing, they will walk right out. 2) It’s everywhere. It’s in your vents, on the furniture, in the bed, under the fridge, on the baseboards…if it’s in your house there is hair there. (Note: If you can’t find someone to watch the dog, then you should vacuum, sweep and dust daily. Brush your animals outside every day to keep the dander down and trim their nails to prevent new scratches).
  • Odor-It’s there even if you don’t smell it. You want to start by really thinking about your carpets. Were they a casualty during the housebreaking years? If you have a little dog, there is a good chance that dog has been peeing in your house his whole life. The spots are usually small and around the doorways, near the table and chair legs and corners of the wall.
  • Stains-There are several ways to remove pet stains from the carpet, but many times the stains are in the padding as well. You can try bacteria-eating pet odor remover and Nature’s Miracle, but if that doesn’t work, you may want to consider replacing the padding and carpet. Whatever you do, make sure the carpets are fresh, because they hold more odor than anything. The same goes for hardwood floors. Be sure to check to see if any damage was the cause and replace if needed.
  • Photographer
  • Home Stager
  • Appraiser
  • Home Inspector
  • Termite Inspector
  • Septic
  • Contractors
  • Buying/listing agent and team
  • And more…

Be sure they are all aware of the pets, so they don’t get startled and if you have a protective dog, be sure to crate him/her or leave them with friend or family. I suggest making a laminated sign to leave in on the door letting visitors know the dog is in the house and where. Also, let them know the dog’s name. No one needs a lawsuit before selling their home. 

The Yard

Your pets have been using the yard as their potty for years. According to realtor.com, “Buyers will walk around your yard and that stroll will be ruined if they step in poop or turn an ankle where your dog likes to dig. Perform a poop patrol before each showing. Double-bag the waste before disposing of, so your garbage cans don’t smell when buyers walk by. Fill all holes and sprinkle grass seed on top.” This is non-negotiable and will ensure your yard looks and smells great. Also, clean up any pet toys, dog houses, and doggie runs to hide all evidence of a dog in your home. You can also lay down some seed or sod in highly tracked areas. Like I said before, people love dogs, but they don’t want to buy a home that smells like one.


Make sure you know when someone is coming to look at the house, so you can vacuum and do one final makeover before showing. This is another good time to Educate your clients about pet liability and discuss having the pets temporarily (either during the entire sale process or on days when there are showings and open houses) relocated if possible.

If the animals are staying home, do another poop check in the yard. Create a professional looking sign and let visitors know if your animals will be home or not and where they will be. You will have many visitors:

Be sure they are all aware of the pets, so they don’t get startled and if you have a protective do, be sure to crate them or leave them with friend or family. No one needs a lawsuit before selling his or her home.

Consider your Pet’s Feelings

Moving is stressful for everyone and that includes pets. There are many ways to help:

  • Take them on walks before leaving and /or showing your home
  • Look into oils and stress-reducing pheromone aerosols to calm them while you’re gone.
  • Talk to your vet, they may have a few solutions as well

At DBRG, We know your pets are your babies, so please understand our goal is to help you sell your home. These tips are here to act as a guide during this process and if you don’t feel comfortable leaving your dog somewhere else, then DO NOT. Just make sure you do what is needed to keep the home fresh, clean and odor-free.