Even though humans have been cohabiting with hounds for thousands of years, living in an apartment with a dog can be tricky. The good news is, more landlords are welcoming four-footed tenants and relaxing their pet rules.
Planning to relocate to a new crib with your canine compadre? Want to welcome a four-legged roommate into your cozy condo? Allow us to bust some of the most common myths about living in an apartment with dogs.
Myth #1: Finding a pet-friendly apartment is practically impossible.
There are many factors to consider when searching for a pet-friendly apartment in your area. Some rental agencies strictly prohibit pets in all their properties. Other apartment complexes welcome pets for an extra pet deposit and rent surcharge each month. This is true in New York City, where the average pet deposit is $30 for small dogs.If the lease doesn’t explicitly prohibit pets, it might be possible to negotiate pet rules with your landlord. Private landlords may be more willing to accept a well-behaved pet than property management agencies. The question is worth asking either way. Even the strictest landlord might make an exception for your precious pup!
Myth #2: Living in an apartment with Fido will be easier than living in a house.
Sharing your apartment with your canine companion might actually prove more difficult than sharing a house. Unless you own your apartment outright, you’ll likely be subject to a pet deposit, extra pet fees on your rent, and strict pet rules.Going out for bathroom breaks will be tricky if you live in a multi-story building. If your buddy likes to bark at everything that moves, you’ll likely receive noise complaints from your neighbors.Additionally, renters must report any significant property damage to their landlord or rental agency. Not only can this incur extra maintenance fees, but particularly destructive pets may be asked to vacate the premises.On the other hand, homeowners maintain their property themselves. If the dog scratches up the walls, chews the furniture, or stains the carpet, the owner repaint the walls, replace the furniture, and rip up the floors as they see fit.
Myth #3: Small dogs are better suited for apartments.
Some assume that small dogs need less exercise than larger breeds and will therefore thrive in a smaller living space. In fact, the opposite is usually true.Some big breeds, like Great Danes and Mastiffs, are better suited for apartment living due to their couch pup-tato energy levels. Meanwhile, certain small breeds, including Terriers, have endless energy and need lots of exercise to burn it. Size doesn’t always matter when it comes to dog-friendly apartment living, as long as your buddy is getting adequate exercise every day.
Myth #4: Apartments are safer for dogs than big houses.
Houses are usually larger than apartments and provide more room to roam -- and more places for Fido to get into trouble. However, common apartment features, such as balconies, also present hazards. “Pup-proofing” your living space is essential to keep your pup (and your furniture) safe. Keep all electrical cords covered and out of reach, contain your trash and food waste, and securely store all medications, cleaning products, and other harmful chemicals.
Myth #5: If I register my dog as an Emotional Support Animal, renters can’t refuse me.
This is true, to an extent. Officially certified Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) are covered under the Fair Housing Act, and renters cannot turn away tenants with ESAs. However, many pet owners underestimate the complexity of the registration process.
For starters, emotional support animals are not service dogs. In fact, falsely identifying your ESA as a service dog can land you in legal trouble.
Secondly, many ESA certification “kits” found online might be illegitimate or even illegal. Steer clear of any ESA kit which includes pre-fab ESA letters which are “valid in all 50 states”, engraved ID tags, leashes or vests.
The Fair Housing Act stipulates that supporting documentation for ESA applications must include:
- a letter from the pet owner’s psychiatrist on official company letterhead
- a statement of treatment
- confirmation of a legal diagnosis
- a disclaimer that an Emotional Support Animal is the best course of treatment for the applicant’s disability
If you’re thinking about getting a four-footed roommate, preparation is paramount. Here’s what you need to do before welcoming a pup into your apartment.
- Consult with a local vet. Veterinarians in your area may know of local pet-friendly apartment complexes or have some relevant tips on dog-friendly apartment living.
- Research the breed you plan to own. Some dog breeds are predisposed to nuisance barking, aggression, and destructive behaviors. Take time to research your breed’s average size, temperament, activity level, and common health concerns.
- Assess the neighborhood’s dog-friendliness. Find out whether your neighborhood offers easy access to veterinarians, dog parks, and other dog-friendly places to exercise, such as trails and fields.
- Devote ample time to training. Obedience training is crucial to creating a little Fido-friendly feng shui in your apartment. At the very least, your dog should be housebroken and know how to bark “mindfully” (i.e., only at legitimate threats). “Heel” and “stay” are other useful commands to teach your apartment-dwelling doggo.
- Exercise them adequately. To prevent aggression, offer your pup 30 minutes to an hour of physical exercise each day. If you don’t have time to walk your dog at least twice a day, why not check out dog walking services near you?
- Keep your mutt mentally stimulated. If you work full-time, leave some puzzle toys out to occupy your pup while you’re gone. (Hide any toys which present a choking hazard, like tennis balls, if your pup is playing unsupervised.)
Living in an apartment with your best four-legged friend won’t be without its challenges, but as long as you plan ahead, keeping your hound happy and healthy will be a walk in the (dog) park!