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The home should satisfy the needs of all family members, including furry ones. How can home buyers ensure that their pet will like the new home?
When the key turns, the 6-year-old Maltese dog Pulmu runs to the door, stretching and yawning.
“Pulmu usually greets me looking dumbfounded: What happened? Was I alone in here?”, says Sirkku Ollila, YIT Neighbourly Guide, who lives with her dog Pulmu and husband Esa Karjala at Komiakortteli in Jouppi, Seinäjoki.
People have taken a lot of pets during the coronavirus pandemic. Dogs have become particularly popular. An article in the Koiramme magazine observes that in 2020, the number of new puppies exceeded the number of new babies in Finland for the first time. How do furry family members cope in apartment buildings?
Ollila and Karjala took Pulmu when she was still a puppy and the couple was living in a single-family house in Laihia. Ollila was on part-time pension and about to retire within a year.
“I though it was the right time for getting a puppy; I would still have time to train it to be alone during my working days. It was also easier to house-train the puppy in a single-family house,” Ollila says.
The family moved to an apartment building when Pulmu was a little over one year. Pulmu adapted quickly: she learned to use the lift right away and recognise their home door with the help of familiar smells. The good, calm dog did not even chew up mail falling through the mail slot.
Loud noises, such as fireworks, thunder and snow ploughing, make the sensitive dog nervous, but Pulmu does not really react to the familiar sounds from the house. Thanks to good sound proofing, there are hardly any sounds from the neighbours or the corridor.
“When our upstairs neighbours return home after the summer, Pulmu might listen to their sounds more carefully for a while,” Ollila says, laughing.
Good sound proofing is a particularly important benefit for pet owners, because barking and paw steps are unavoidable in families with pets. Marko Oinas from YIT says that the properties of modern apartment buildings are so good that the sounds of normal daily life do not travel between apartments as easily as in older buildings.
“We have even received customer feedback on this. The resident had never imagined that an apartment building could be so quiet,” Oinas adds.
The white fur of the Maltese dog gets dirty easily. Ollila mentions the location of the bathroom right next to the entrance as one of the many things she likes about the apartment.
“Pulmu goes straight to the bathroom when I tell her that it’s time to wash her paws,” Ollila says.
When buying a new apartment, the resident can, for example, select materials that are more comfortable for the pet. Kikka Pitkänen, Professional Dog Trainer at Koirankuje, recommends selecting floor materials that are not too sensitive to moisture or dog claws. If there are stairs in the apartment, they should be equipped with anti-slip tape, and unnecessary gaps and falls that may scare dogs should be avoided. These choices make life easier for both puppies and elderly dogs.
“Thinking about the apartment throughout the dog’s lifespan, dogs usually face the same problems as humans when they grow older. For example, stairs might become a challenge, but they are easier to manage if they are intrinsically safe,” Pitkänen says.
YIT tries to take the needs of four-legged friends into account in the development of its apartments. Eila Lumme, Project Development Manager at YIT, has interviewed dog owners about their needs.
“Dog owners appreciate ease and safety, for example, in coming home with the dog, eating and having guests over. They also prefer surface materials that are dog-friendly and durable so that they do not have to worry about them,” Lumme says.
Some YIT homes, such as housing companies Helsingin Kuninkaanpolku and Helsingin Kuninkaankallio in Kuninkaantammi, Helsinki, have services that are particularly well suited for pet owners. The buildings will be completed at the end of March 2021, and one of them has a shared mudroom on the ground floor, intended for the residents of both housing companies and ideal for washing a dog’s paws after a walk. The location in the immediate vicinity of a forest and jogging trails is also excellent for families with dogs. Each apartment also has a spacious, glazed balcony that brings additional space and serves as a safe area for pets such as cats. The residents can order someone to look after their pet from the YIT Plus service, for example, if their fish need feeding or dogs walking.
Walking is Pulmu’s favourite hobby: the small dog can walk for up to 10 kilometres a day. Komiakortteli is just a stone’s throw from the jogging tracks on the banks of river Seinäjoki, and the forests and recreation areas of Jouppilanvuori are also nearby.
“We did not choose the apartment and the area with our dog in mind, but after moving here in Jouppi, we realised that it has amazing outdoor recreation opportunities. What a nice added bonus!” Ollila says.
According to Pitkänen, most dogs adjust well to living in an apartment building. Because dogs need outdoor exercise, Pitkänen emphasises the importance of the area over the apartment itself. When the apartment is surrounded by good outdoor recreation areas, the dog adjusts to staying home alone more easily.
“Usually, dogs sleep during the working day. When the dog has spent enough time outdoors and had physical exercise and other stimuli the night before, it has no need to tear the place apart when left alone.”