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As condos remain the most affordable housing option in Toronto, more and more people are choosing to call them home — and so are their four-legged friends. Pet-friendly condos are a far cry from the developments of yesteryear, where cats and dogs were often not allowed. In fact, the majority of new condominiums — including Empire Quay House — not only welcome man’s best friend into their buildings, but take their needs into consideration when putting the project together, offering everything from wash stations to fully-grassed rooftop play areas. If you’re considering condo life with your pup as your roommate, read on for tips and considerations to make the experience as smooth as possible, plus get real-life insights from condo dweller Samantha, who lives in a condo with her adorable pup, Zoe (pictured above).

Know Your Closest Park or Off-Leash Area

As dogs become more at home in urban areas, so too are pet-friendly parks, trails and off-leash play zones. And since fresh air and exercise are essential for pups, be sure to spend time researching the nearest green spots in the area. Dogs living at Quay House are minutes from Sherbourne Common, the dog park at David Crombie Park, the Martin Goodman Trail and Sugar Beach.

Consider What Floor You Want to Be On

Your dog will need to make frequent trips to the bathroom, so be sure to keep that in mind when choosing what floor the unit you purchase is on. Lower-level floors or those closer to the mid-level terrace at Quay House, which includes a gated area for pups, will prevent bathroom breaks from being an overly tedious process. “Whether it’s a new puppy or an older dog that’s used to a home with a yard, it’s going to take some time for your pet to adjust,” says Samantha. “Since my dog Zoe joined our family after we moved into our condo, I found that we spent a lot of time on the elevator or in the stairwell as puppies need to be taken out more frequently. This is definitely trickier during cold winter months, but something you need to be committed to doing if you live in a condo with your dog.”

Prep Your Home Prior to Your Pet Moving In

Just as we make our homes as liveable as possible prior to officially moving in, it’s important to dedicate time setting up what your dog will need to make the transition into their new home as seamless as possible. Keep food and water in a place that’s accessible and easy-to-clean; put their toy bin in a centralized location; and spend time playing with them upon first moving in so that they associate their new home as a space that’s fun for them to be in.

Another piece of advice: “Close the bathroom door!” says Samantha. “Puppies love to get into everything they shouldn’t including garbage. The best thing I did when Zoe was a puppy was keeping all of the doors closed so that she was only able to be in the same room that I was in. I would also recommend ‘dog-proofing’ your space, since puppies will eat anything they can get their paws on, like cords, pillows, shoes and slippers.”

Make Sure Your Pup (and You!) are Well-Socialized

Your dog is bound to run into more people and pets in a condo than they would in the average suburb, so it’s worth considering if your pooch is well-suited to condo life. A dog that’s fearful of strangers or is aggressive when meeting other pets could pose a problem or make your neighbours weary of you. There may be people living in the condo that are afraid of dogs; should you ever find yourself riding the elevator with a neighbour that keeps looking nervously at your dog, consider holding your pooch in your arms (if small enough) or keeping them on a tight leash by your side.

While living in a condo with a dog may be an adjustment, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. “I love condo living with my dog,” Samantha says. “I find that the space we have is more than enough. I’ve been working at home since the start of the pandemic, and she’s been the best companion.”

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