What You Need to Know About Having a Pet at a 55+ Community

An older woman hugs her dog while living in a 55+ community.
Here's what you need to know about having a pet in a 55+ community.

Why is it important to know the pet policies in 55+ communities? Pet lovers know that having an animal companion brings a great deal of joy into your life. There’s nothing quite like sharing your life with a pet who loves you. But pets provide more than just company. They’ve also been shown to have a number of other benefits for their owners, especially for people over the age of 50.

Having a pet in your life is good for your health in many ways. This may be partly because caring for a pet often requires people to get out of the house, such as when you take your dog for a walk. On top of that, pet ownership is associated with lower cholesterol and blood pressure and a reduced risk of a heart attack. Pets also combat social isolation, which can increase your risk of depression.

Overall, people with beloved pets know how much they add to their quality of life as well as long-term health. But what if you’re planning to move into a 55+ community? Can you bring your pet with you? 

Each community has its own set of rules, so it’s important to research the locations you’re interested in. However, many 55+ communities welcome pets. In general, here are some common regulations you can expect to find.

Typical Pet Policies in 55+ Communities

Closeup of a 55+ woman kissing her gray cat.

Most pet policies in 55+ communities are designed to ensure that everyone is comfortable in the community. With clear expectations, both pet owners and other residents should be able to coexist without problems. The goal is to create a place where people and pets have the room to live happily. These are the type of rules you’ll probably find.

Restrictions on the Type of Pet

Many communities limit the types of pets they allow. Common house pets, such as birds, cats, and dogs are usually permitted. However, more exotic pets such as venomous snakes are less likely to be welcome. Some areas have restrictions on dogs over 40 pounds. They also may not allow certain breeds, such as pit bulls.

Number of Animals

Often, the maximum number of pets allowed is two. This includes pets of all kinds, so if you have a cat, you can only have a single dog. In areas with smaller living spaces, such as apartments, they may only allow a single pet. You, your pet, and your neighbors will all be happier if your pet has enough room to be comfortable and content.

Registration Requirements

Many communities require pet owners to register their animals with the office. This helps them clarify the rules with the resident and ensure that all the requirements are met. If you have a houseguest who has a pet, you’ll probably also be expected to notify the office if they’ll be staying for longer than a week.

Local Laws

You’ll be expected to follow all the local ordinances pertaining to your pet. If the animal services department in your county requires registration, vaccinations, or leash use in public, you’ll be expected to be in compliance with those laws.

Nuisance

It’s up to you to ensure that your pet doesn’t bother other residents. Some of the behaviors that may be considered a nuisance include:

  • Excessive barking or other noise
  • Not cleaning up after your pet
  • Aggressive behavior toward other residents or pets
  • Soiling other people’s property
  • Dogs that are allowed to wander off-leash

Rules Especially for Dogs

A senior couple walking with their golden retriever in the autumn countryside.

Because dogs are the pets that are most likely to encounter other residents outside the home, many pet policies in 55+ communities refer to them. Dog-friendly communities often offer amenities for pet owners, such as walking paths, watering stations, and dog parks. If you do find an area that has these perks, the following guidelines will help you stay on the good side of your neighbors and the law.

Keep your dog on a leash in public areas.

No matter how gentle and well-trained your pup is, not everyone is comfortable with being approached by a dog. Other dogs can also respond aggressively when they encounter strange dogs. The restraint is also important if they encounter any wildlife, keeping them from tangling with an animal that may be diseased or aggressive. It’s safest for everyone if you keep your dog leashed when you’re out for a walk.

Clean up after them and dispose of waste properly.

This is self-explanatory because not even dog lovers want to be surrounded by dog waste and the smells that go with it. Some communities offer pet pickup stations with bags and trash cans you can use, which is very convenient. However, you should always carry extra bags with you just in case they run out.

Follow dog park etiquette.

Dog parks are a great place to meet other dog owners. You can get to know people and their pets, and anyone who has a beloved dog knows these are the best kinds of friends. These areas usually allow dogs to explore off-leash, but be sure to follow all the posted rules. 

Some of these parks have separate areas for different sizes of dogs. Even if you have a gentle giant who is reliably safe around small dogs, keep it in the large dog area. Little dogs may be frightened of bigger ones, which can lead to aggressive behavior. 

If your dog has any trouble getting along with other dogs, it’s best to stay away from free play areas such as the dog park. You can always work with a dog trainer to help them get more comfortable around other dogs, but if you have any doubts about how they’ll react, stick to one-on-one play at a safe distance from other animals.

Pets are an important part of many people’s lives, and there’s no reason that has to change if you decide to move into a 55+ community. If you’re interested in finding a new home for you and your pet, 55places can help you find the right 55+ community for both of you.

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