If you are like many, considering life without your favorite canine companion by your side is a non-starter. As a dog lover, you likely make most decisions with your best furry pal in mind. This should hold true even when looking for your next home to purchase. The following are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping for a house that will suit both you and man's best friend.

Check HOA restrictions

HOA stands for Home Owner's Association. On the surface, an HOA may seem like a good idea. Generally, in exchange for an annual fee, the HOA provides some maintenance as well as ensuring that every homeowner adheres to basic rules designed to keep the neighborhood attractive and welcoming. Unfortunately, some HOAs also have restrictions on the animals that can live in the development. There may be a total ban on dogs, for example, or only certain breeds may be allowed within the HOA. Further, there could be strict rules on where you can walk your dog and whether they can be on or off-leash outside of your yard.

If you are looking at a home in an HOA neighborhood, inspect the bylaws before putting in an offer. Something as simple as a rule not allowing fences could make it difficult to keep your dog.

Consider the safety of the yard

Safety should be paramount when checking out real estate. You want a fenced in yard that isn't near high traffic areas or in an area where passers-by could harass or be frightened by your pet. Further, the yard should be easily accessible from the house and provide plenty of area for your pup to run around and play. While you can always install a fence later, a solid fence with no gaps beneath it is a bonus. It's also a good idea to make yourself familiar with the plants in the yard, as you don't want any hard-to-remove plants that are toxic to dogs on the property.

Look into the neighborhood walkability

If you take your dog on regular walks, you will want a home in a neighborhood with plenty of sidewalks, well-marked crosswalks, and park areas. Make sure that dogs are allowed in parks. If there is a dog park nearby, then all the better! If there are any greenbelts or urban trails near your home, verify the leash laws and that dogs are allowed. Some urban trails are off-limits to canines due to habitat restoration. You may even be able to find a dog-friendly neighborhood where local cafes and diners have outdoor seating just for dogs and their human companions!

Contact a real estate agent for more help.