It is a fact of life that those of us who own pets consider them to be family members. You see evidence of this daily with dogs accompanying owners on trips around town. Cat owners are just as enthusiastic about their friends; they just have a harder time getting them on a leash!
When you go to sell your house, however, you must stop thinking of your pet like a member of the family and start thinking about your pet as a possible impediment to a quick sale.
When it comes to dogs I often suggest that pets be crated during the day when a house is on lock-box. Many pet owners balk at this suggestion.
As an alternative, I would like to suggest using a baby gate or pet fence to sequester your dog in a small room (such as a mudroom or study) where potential buyers can see the animal, but feel protected from it's enthusiasm. Post a sign with the dog's name and provide a dish with dog treats (if appropriate). I do not recommend putting the animal behind a closed door. Even if this information is posted outside of the room, it may keep a buyer from opening the door to the room--this will leave them with a feeling that they did not see your whole house, and they will likely scratch it off the list. I once sold my house to a woman who was EXTREMELY scared of dogs. We gated our 75 pound dog in the mudroom, where she could see her, but not feel threatened (this dog wouldn't hurt a fly). She has since told me that if the dog had been loose in the house, she would not have gone in and would not have bought our house.
Cats are a different story. I have had buyer clients who would not buy a house where they could see evidence of cats. It does not matter how well behaved your cat is, many people don't want a home where a cat lived. If you can see your way to have your cat "stay with a friend" you are going to feel the least amount of repercussions from this. People who don't like cats feel very strongly about this dislike. Hide your litter box and remove other evidence. If you are a cat owner, you are likely feeling offended by this. I apologize, but I see this over and over again when I work with buyers. Don't shoot the messenger...
Finally, other less common pets can also present problems; hamsters, ferrets, snakes and other animals that some people love and others hate. If you have these animals, consider having them go stay with a friend during the marketing of your home. Or, if it is a possibility given your home and the weather, keep them in the garage.
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