The Dog (and Cat) Owner’s Guide to Renting an Apartment

Americans love their dogs.

An estimated 90 million dogs in live in 64 million American families—or about half of the nation’s 120+ million households.

Responsible pet owners

While estimates for other countries can be hard to verify, it’s widely believed that the United States is not only home to the world’s largest dog population: America also has the most dogs per capita.

At the same time, renting is becoming more popular than ever, with over 44 million renter households in America today. Taken together, these two conditions mean that we need to talk about renting with dogs in particular, but also with pets in general.

When choosing a home: where to?

Pets—and dogs in particular—need certain amenities to thrive. When selecting your apartment home, look for places with access to outdoor greenspace, including open areas where dogs can run, or official dog parks.

Many pet-friendly locations will also offer resources specifically tailored to dog owners, though these vary widely by location.

After moving into your new home, how can you be a courteous tenant and respectful member of the community?

There isn’t some big secret to being a good neighbor. It’s all about fundamentals. The message to pet owners everywhere: don’t just remember the basics: put them into practice. We’ve put together a short checklist for dog owners renting in multifamily communities, with a particular emphasis on apartment living.

Apartment Search and Move-in

  • Do your homework: find the right Place
    Be deliberate! If you have a dog, or if adopting a pet in the future is important to you, pet-friendliness should be a major consideration in where you look. And don’t take a narrow view of “Pet-Friendly”: just because dogs can live there doesn’t mean yours should. Find an apartment that can comfortably fit your pet’s space needs.
  • There isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution to renting with pets (if only it were that easy!). Like each tenant, every pet is unique. Different breeds—and different individuals of the same breed—may react very differently to apartment living. Research your dog’s breed and look for strategies other owners have found effective.
  • Be proactive
    Why wait when you can stop trouble before it starts? If a community’s pet policy is ambiguous or nowhere to be found, don’t assume that’s a green light. Talk with the landlord or property manager and be forthcoming.

The same principle applies after you’ve moved in as well. Anticipate what and where your pet could conceivably break or harm. Then, arrange your apartment to prevent damage, whether it means moving furniture to protect drywall or placing rugs to protect carpet.

Apartment Etiquette and Socialization

Apartment living can be disorienting for some dogs—especially those accustomed to big yards or wide-open spaces.

  • Train your dog to be comfortable around strangers and unfamiliar pets. If they are unable to ride an elevator with another resident, or if they rush at neighbors’ dogs in the hall, consider renting in a community without communal corridors. Detached house, townhome or duplex-style properties offer possible solutions for dogs that struggle in denser, apartment-style configurations.
  • Control your dog. Even if your dog is well-trained and won’t run off, strangers won’t know this. As a courtesy to any residents uncomfortable around dogs, always keep your dog on-leash in the building.
  • Teach them to bark less—especially during quiet hours.  Dogs will be dogs, and some barking is pretty much inevitable. But if your pet becomes a serious enough nuisance to the neighbors, you could face serious consequences—up to and including eviction.
  • Keep their immunizations up-to-date. For your dog, for you, and for your neighbors. Not only do these vaccines have a strong track record of safety and efficacy: in Ohio, it’s also the law.
  • Make sure your dog is potty trained, and consider creating a dedicated relief area for your pet. Accidents will happen. When they do, be sure to clean the mess thoroughly. Don’t just pick up your dog’s waste: thoroughly disinfect and clean affected surfaces, scrub stains from carpets. You won’t do yourself any favors by pretending it didn’t happen.

Bathroom etiquette is important outside of your apartment, too. Leaving animal waste in communal lawns could cost you your apartment. Whenever lazy or negligent dog owners shrug off their dog doo duties, the rest of us get crap for it. Don’t be that guy.

Finally, we wanted to tackle a question that’s probably more common that it should be.

No dogs allowed: end of story?

It’s no secret that many landlords are pet averse. Browsing for apartments online, chances are you’ve encountered your share of “no pets” warnings. Let’s say you find an apartment listing that’s perfect—except for that pesky “no dogs” clause. Of course, your pupper is non-negotiable, so what can you do?

Well, in most situations, not a whole lot.

Tenants with pets should know their rights, and you can always talk with the landlord or property manager—just don’t expect an exception.

There are, however, two common situations that are exempted from most privately imposed pet restrictions. Service animals and emotional support animals are legally protected regardless of property owner policies.

And bottom line, do not—I repeat: DO NOT—try to hide your pet. Do we really have to explain this one? Not only could you be fined, evicted, and blacklisted from future rentals: stuck inside all day, your dog will be miserable.

But the number one you should never try concealing you dog? You don’t need to.

Fortunately for owners of non-service animals, while many apartments refuse pets, there are plenty that welcome dogs and pets of all kinds. More often than not, you can find a home that’s ready to accommodate you and your pets.

Looking for dog-friendly apartments in Columbus, Ohio? Ardent Communities has you covered.

At Ardent, we’re proud to offer pet- and dog-friendly living across Central Ohio! Learn more about our options for families of all shapes and sizes.

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