's best friends? Maybe, but.....

Okay, I have to start off by saying that I have not only owned dogs (and other pets) my entire life, but I also firmly believe that animals end up being the most loyal of companions throughout life. Provided pets are adequately cared for, loved, regularly exercised, fed, and kept warm, I am a strong advocate for people having them.

But, there is a time and place for an animal to be present. And, when you are trying to sell a home, this is not an optimal time. This is a delicate subject that is not being communicated to sellers. This is more than evident when we browse through interior photos for listings. In fact, I just closed a Realty Office website, where I found photos of a beautiful home listed for sale. My browsing session was going wonderfully, until I clicked to enlarge the photo of the living room. I gasped to find a beautiful, big-eyed Bull Mastiff, dead-center in the photo, staring me down. He/she was the focal point of the photo. And, if you know Bull Mastiffs, you are fully aware that this is one of the largest dog breeds out there.

Although this dog is beautiful, and the owner is probably very proud of it, the buyer's psyche automatically starts its crazy, rampant processes. 8 out of 10 buyers automatically believe that there will be an odour, damage to the property throughout, stains that are impossible to get rid of, and even a build-up of animal hair and/or dander. The true case may actually be that the owner takes immaculate care of the property. Maybe that dog was just visiting for the afternoon. Maybe there is actually no trace of a pet within the home.

We are talking about assumptions based on visualization and imagination. Including photos with pets in the frames is something we really should be avoiding, at all costs. They are just acting as a trigger, sending the majority of initially interested buyers running away from the listing. They will NOT call to schedule a showing. Remember, buyers are not at all interested in listings that make them feel that they will have to complete work on in order to move in. Pet damage/odours/stains translate into "work".

Best case scenario, the home-owner should enlist the help (pet-sitting) of an outside source right from the moment they decide to list their home, until the new home-owner takes possession. This, of course, is most important in the case of indoor pets. At the very least, we should be ensuring that the photos used in marketing materials, on-line and off-line, do not include pets of any sort.

But, THE MOST important thing that we impress upon our clients, is that pets cannot be present on the property when the home is being viewed. But, not only must the pet be absent, all signs of a pet must be removed or packed away as well. This means food dishes, beds, toys, treats, hair, and all stains must be out of sight, taken care of, thoroughly cleaned. We also have to remember that there are many people out there who have pretty severe allergies to animals (hair/dander). If a potential buyer enters a property they are interested in, but starts to have an allergic reaction, this is an obvious deterrent. This buyer will promptly leave, and become discouraged with the property. Most likely, you won't hear from them again.

The main thing we tell our clients is that the process of purchasing a home is one of the most important decisions people make in life. Because it is so emotionally charged, and involves a large investment, the psyche of buyers works in mysterious ways, and creates lasting/concrete impressions in the brain that just may not make common sense to you and me.

Rhonda Wilson - CCSPTM
Owner/Operator of
Revealing Assets
Home Staging and Decluttering Services
We transform properties into highly
sought-after products that sell in half
the time and for 7-10% more money.
Through personal experience, extensive
research and training, and a compassionate
approach, we De-clutter living/work spaces for
up-lifting and positive life changes.

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Comment balloon 6 commentsRhonda Wilson • December 22 2009 11:39PM



There is such a thing as kennels or relatives where beastie can be stored while the house is on the market.

Posted by Terry Chenier (Homelife Glenayre Realty) over 9 years ago

Well said.  Dog may be man's best friend ( and I have 3 of them)  They are not necessarily the welcoming committee when showing a home. 

Posted by Allison Stewart, St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904 (St.Cloud Homes ) over 9 years ago

Hi Terry! My thought exactly. These are the perfect spot for "beastie" to stay. Impressing that idea upon the home-owner, as you know, can be a whole different thing. And, there are certainly circumstances in the lives of owners that make it very difficult to find alternative accommodations for said "beasties". There are quite a vast variety and number of objections we have heard here. These range from price of kennels, to not knowing anyone who can house "beastie", to "oh, puppy cannot travel, due to arthritis-related limited mobility, all the way to "the stress of changing environments will kill my beastie".

There are several solutions to recommend. And, if all else fails, "beastie" should be absent from photo-shoots, and at least out-of-sight, in an outside pen, or in a garage. The more invisible "beastie" is, the better. The same thing goes for all pet provisions, accessories, food, etc.

Dogs can be more "welcoming" than humans, but tend to be an un-welcoming sight when trying to show a property as well-maintained, or attempting to avoid having a buyer's throat swell shut or their skin break out in hives.

Thank you so much for your comments and feedback!! Happy Holidays to All!!

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 9 years ago

Rhonda, I have experienced this issue from two sides. Years ago when looking for a house, our agent was given a fly swatter to fend off the dogs if they got out of the bedroom. Now I encourage clients to use sitters, grandma, neighbours, dog walkers etc. I find cats are a far bigger problem;)

Posted by Janice Ankrett, Staging Professional (Janice Ankrett Home Staging) over 9 years ago

Hi Janice! A fly swatter? That is funny! My, how times have changed!

You are VERY correct about cats being a big problem. I am of the opinion that all pets are an issue. Ferrets are very smelly, no matter how much you bathe them. Rodents of any sort have that soiled-shavings smell to them. Birds go to the washroom more than most animals. And, they are horrible for throwing food and other items out of their cages. Lizards can also smell failry bad.

But, CATS....they are an entirely different story. Cats are the largest pet that we, as a society, for some strange reason, allow to go to the washroom in our homes, in a box, repeatedly. Yes, many people are very dilligent about keeping on top of "scooping" the litter box and ensuring the area around the box is kept clean.

The problem is that, even if the owner is great at maintaining the litter box, just as soon as that cat steps into that box and lets loose, that smell travels throughout the entire home, and takes quite a while to dissipate. Another issue with cats is that their urine is absolutely packed with ammonia, making this odour almost impossible to eliminate.

Even the most clean, efficient, hygienic of clients are not able to fully take care of the smell of owning a cat. So, when we suggest getting the cat(s) out of the home for showings and getting their accessories out of sight, buyers will STILL be able to detect the existence of this particular pet. I have had many clients say to me, "Oh, I do have a cat, but you wouldn't know unless you saw her". The issue is that cat owners become desensitized and oblivious to the odour that becomes a permanent part of their home.

I have even asked clients to not divulge to me whether or not they own a pet of any sort, to see if I could detect anything once I arrived at their home (this is a regular rule of mine). 96% of the time, I am able to quickly point out to them that I can definitely smell a CAT.

So, great point. Thank you so much for bringing this up.

Happy Holidays to you!!!

Posted by Rhonda Wilson (Revealing Assets - Home Staging Services) over 9 years ago

Hi Rhonda - this is such a good point. Our PM posted a for rent ad with a picture of the neighbour's demonic looking doberman ( I love them but he was right out of Damien!!!) peering over the fence. Well you can imagine how many hits that got! Quickly replaced that photo with a nice front of the property and it was rented. Dogs - they have a bad rap!

Great post!


Posted by Todd and Danielle Millar, Sixteen years of excellence! (Glenn Simon Inc.) over 9 years ago