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You're not alone if the major criteria in shopping for your new apartment was two little words: "Pets Allowed." Apartments.com's recent survey found that 90 percent of renters own pets—80 percent of whom chose their apartment based on the landlord's pet-friendly policy. If you're apartment-hunting in Chicago you're in luck, check out the pet friendly meter of Chicago apartments at ForRent.com ... It's almost up to 100 percent!
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With so many renters seeking pet-friendly housing, it seems counter-productive that some landlords are still wary of renting to pet owners. The answer may lie in that old saying, "There are three sides to every story—yours, mine, and the truth."
When it comes to renting an apartment with dogs, those three sides are yours, your pup's, and your landlord's. Let's start with the landlord.
Once Burned, Twice Shy
"I've had problem with dog-owning tenants in the past. They let their dogs run unleashed through the walkways, never cleaned up after them, and when they went off to work, the dogs barked all day."
It's your job to assure him you're different. If you can, get references from past landlords. Bring your dog when you view the apartment so he can see your well-behaved pet. Discuss exactly what regulations are in place.
- Is there a limit on the number of pets or their weight?
- Are any breeds banned?
- Where can dogs be walked?
- Is there a fee or damage deposit?
As with any agreement, solidify it in writing. If no list or lease addendum is available, compose your own to be signed by both parties. You might use the policy sheet of the New York City Housing Authority as a model for writing your own.
Now for your dog's side of the story:
Empty Paws Are the Devil's Workshop
"I'm a mix of many proud breeds. Throughout the ages, my ancestors spent their day hunting, herding sheep, protecting livestock or property, or ferreting out underground creatures. Now you're expecting good dog behavior of me, but leaving me with nothing to do but twiddle my paws."
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The third side of the story is your side. You want to live here but you're really at your dog's mercy. You do your best by pup so you can keep in the good graces of your landlord. And for this you get up early, very early. Your days of sleeping late are over.
Rise and Shine
A Tired Dog is a Good Dog: You know dogs need a morning walk of at least 30 minutes; energetic dogs like labs and hounds need at least an hour. But you also add a nightcap of Frisbee, fetch, or chasing bubbles. You want to burn up all that energy so he'll sleep most of the day.
A Sound Mind in a Sound Body: You provide mental exercise to occupy him when he wakes from his long nap. That includes rotating his supply of chew toys, and supplementing them with challenging puzzle toys. The ASPCA recommends a KONG stuffed with a treat to reward him for his mental expenditures.
A postscript to the story:
One is The Loneliest Number: If pup is depressed, a pal could perk his spirits. If you're willing to go this route, many landlords limit tenants to one dog but allow one cat in addition. Contrary to the colloquialism "fighting like cats and dogs," some form strong interspecies friendships. The key word is "some." If your dog shows aggression to every cat, chipmunk, or squirrel he encounters, he's not one of the "some."
|Photo by Katlene Niven via Flickr|
However if he only wants to play, there may be a cat for him, just not a kitten or elderly cat. Many shelters have visiting rooms where you, your pup, and a prospective kitty can hold a mutual interview. And when you bring the winning candidate home, assign her a room, and allow at least a two week internship with all communication taking place through a closed door.
For those who choose the kitty route, the American Humane Association has a detailed map to follow.
Remember, millions of dogs get along just fine in apartments. It just means getting into a routine that works for both your and your pet.
Mary Pettaway. Mary is a health-conscious blogger from Texas.