The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Home for a Service Dog by HomeAdvisor
Welcoming a service dog into your home is a life-changing opportunity, and like all major life events, requires plenty of preparation. You’ll need to make some minor, but important, modifications to make your home accessible for your new companion. Use the following guide to optimize your home inside and out will help your service dog easily adapt to his new surroundings and help you navigate your daily tasks with ease.
The Exterior of Your Home
Even if you don’t plan to spend much time outdoors, there will still be some modifications you’ll need to make to the exterior of your home to ensure it is accessible and safe for your service dog.
Driveway and Garage
Whether you park in your driveway or garage, the key consideration for these areas is adequate space. If your service dog will assist you into and out of the car, there should be plenty of room for both of you to maneuver and load safely.
- Your driveway should be at least 12 feet wide to allow for easy access, though you may want even more space if you have large equipment to consider like a chair lift or ramp. This is especially important if you have a raised driveway or its edges are steep. Get a better estimate for your driveway project, then talk to a professional for a customized assessment.
- If you have two cars, you’ll want to consider moving the one you use least to the garage or street.
- Trim hedges or shrubs lining the driveway so your access is completely unimpeded.
An accessible garage is essential, particularly if you live somewhere that inclement weather conditions can make outdoor car loading complicated.
- If the floor is cement, tile, or another slick material, place a mat outside your usual seat that will allow you better traction while you get in and out of the vehicle.
- Clutter is the enemy, so maximize the overall space as much as possible with storage shelving and toss the things you don’t need anything you don’t need.
- Keep the garage regularly swept so that you and your service dog don’t track in dirt or debris. Also, take special care to clean up after DIY or home improvement projects.
Sidewalks and paths
As with your driveway, you’ll want to ensure that any sidewalks on your property will comfortably fit you and your service dog.
- Those with upright mobility will want pathways between 24 and 48 inches wide to allow you and your companion to walk side-by-side.
- For those in a wheelchair, start with 36 inches and work your way up to 60 inches as needed.
- Be mindful of landscaping near and around paths — avoid shrubs that will need frequent trimming or monkey grass that can impede mobility.
Remember: your service dog is a whole new body to consider. You might be able to roll between the thorny bushes by the front door, but your helper will probably brush into them as he walks alongside you. If you need to update your outdoor paths, it’s important to know what material you’ll need and how much it will cost.
The backyard will need the right kind of fence if it doesn’t have one already. The company you’re working with will hopefully have valuable insight into what’s right for both the breed of your service dog and the area you live in. Generally, you’ll want something that’s at least six feet high. Most service dogs will be trained not to dig or venture away from home, but it’s still important to keep him contained; not only do you want to keep potentially dangerous predators out, you’ll want to prevent your service dog from fleeing your property while chasing a rabbit that’s sparked his prey drive. The more problems you can prevent completely, the better.