Apartment living can be a great thing. On one hand, it’s affordable and can be a great start for anybody who wants to strike out on their own for the first time. It can also be an excellent transient home, a place to live until you can afford something more permanent. Finally, all yard work and home maintenance is not on you to take care of — it’s built into your monthly rental fees.
But on the other hand, apartment living has its limitations and restrictions. You’re sharing a living space with dozens of other people, which can result in loud parties and what sounds like breakdancing lessons on the floor above you. You are not free to paint and remodel as you wish, which can be frustrating for people with a colorful personality. And, perhaps most upsetting, not all apartments allow you to bring your dog with you.
Now, if you’re one of the 43,346,000 Americans that is also a dog parent and a potential apartment building does not allow you to have pets, it’s a deal-breaker. Your furry child is either going to live with you, or you will find another place to call home. However, it’s not always easy to find a pet-friendly apartment. If you’re looking for an apartment that will let you bring your doggo with you, here are some tips for finding that perfect place to call home — at least for now.
Check Online Before Applying for a Lease
Obviously, your first step in looking for a dog-friendly apartment is going to be looking online at the building’s features. It should be listed someplace obvious whether or not pets are accepted, but if you can’t find it, visit the building’s contact page. Asking someone will get you an answer immediately (and you might even suggest that they update their page regarding their pet policies while you ask). Most apartment buildings have a weight limit on the size of your dogs, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to us, but to each their own. (Seriously, how is your neighbor Linda’s demonic, yippy chihuahua any better than your gentle, quiet Great Dane? Your guess is as good as ours.)
Once you’ve clarified that your dog is welcome at the building, look at other features that might be helpful while you and Rover live there. Some pet-friendly features that you might consider are:
- Apartment building elevators. While this might seem superficial at first glance, it’s actually a feature that you should seriously consider. Do you have an elderly dog that has trouble walking up and downstairs? If so, an elevator can help to alleviate the aches and pains of a senior dog when you go for walks/.
- Months that the swimming pool closing occurs. If the building has a pool, then chances are that it will be closed during the winter months. This is necessary not only for the maintenance crew that services it, but also for pets and little children. If you’re outside playing, is it safe near the pool area? Ensure that you understand the rules regarding the pool and its closures for the season (especially if you have a dog that automatically dive-bombs into the first body of water it sees. We’re looking at you, Labrador retrievers.)
- Fencing. No, not the art of swordplay, actual fences around the perimeter of the facility. It’s unlikely that you will have a private backyard, but what about common areas around the apartment building? If your dog were to accidentally escape and take off, would you feel satisfied that the wood fences surrounding the building will keep him off of the main roads?
- Is there room for you to give your dog an outdoor space of his own, like that custom dog house that you bought on Etsy? Even if you don’t have a private yard, it’s worth seeing if you have a space like a balcony that you could use to your pupper’s advantage.
You wouldn’t just dive into a lease without doing your proper research, and as a pet parent, it’s especially important to vet your next possible home. Ensure that your dog is welcome by conducting your own internet research ahead of time.
Figure Out Pet Deposit Fees (And Keep Your Apartment Clean to Get Them Back)
Apartments that accept dogs will almost certainly require a pet deposit, which can range in price all across the board. This is to ensure that if your dog destroys something within the apartment during your time there, the facility can keep the deposit to cover the expenses. Most commonly this refers to chewing, scratching, and otherwise day-to-day damage that dogs can cause while living in an enclosed space. This requires more upkeep than the standard fare, but your dog is worth the trouble.
Although it’s at the discretion of the leasing manager whether or not you get your deposit back upon move-out, here are some ways that you can improve your chances:
Clean up any messes from your hard flooring surfaces: Mud, urine/feces, hair, etc. Wet messes can seep into hardwood floors and warp them, which can cost a pretty penny to replace when all is said and done. The complex might need to hire flooring services to get the problem rectified. Be sure to soak up any liquid messes with a rag first, then thoroughly clean the area with wood-safe disinfectant. Make sure that you’re regularly sweeping and mopping to keep the floors in the best possible shape, and don’t discount how effective floor wax can be. One bottle can last you for months, and it does a fantastic job buffing out minor scratches and dents.
Wipe down and clean off all your walls as you see marks. Happy tails can lead to scuffing on the walls, and let’s not forget about the doggie habit of scratching itches by rubbing against the walls. Use all-purpose cleaner to regularly wipe down the walls and baseboards as you see dark marks (not to be confused with the tattoos in Harry Potter). Regular old Dawn and water works well in a spray bottle to lift wall stains, and Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are also excellent for getting especially stubborn marks off the walls. Bleach is also a great way to get a white surface even whiter, but remember to look carefully at solution ratios. Bleach is highly corrosive and can be damaging to certain surfaces, not to mention your skin. Wear gloves and take precautions before using bleach to clean surfaces.
If the apartment has carpet, pet stain removal can be a little tricky, but it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. For a do-it-yourself solution, follow these steps:
- Use a grocery bag to pick up anything solid (vomit, feces) and throw it away. Most dog-friendly apartments have outdoor trash cans for dog poop, so take advantage of those if you can. Nobody wants their home to stink.
- Absorb as much of the liquid stain as you can with a rag or paper towel. It should be nearly dry before you move onto the next step.
- Make a solution of equal parts warm water and vinegar, blotting it over the stain. Do this little by little, absorbing the liquid with a clean rag, and sprinkle the area with baking soda once it’s been cleaned. Wait for it to dry, then vacuum over it. If the stain or smell persists, repeat the process.
A security deposit is par for the course when you’re renting an apartment, but it’s a little bit different if you have a dog. Ask the apartment manager what it would take for you to lose your deposit, and work backward. Focus on what you can do to keep your pet deposit by avoiding all the things that might lose it. Regular cleaning and upkeep of your rental space is more than just living in a sanitary space — it’s a way to ensure that you get your money back upon move-out.
Invest in Pet Insurance
You have a health insurance policy for yourself, why shouldn’t you have one for your dog as well? Unfortunately for us, dogs don’t communicate through words, so it’s tough to know what kind of aches and pains they’re experiencing. Additionally, procedures and surgeries for dogs can cost a LOT of money. Even a simple spaying and neutering procedure can cost anywhere between $100 and $300 on the low end.
Part of responsible pet ownership is taking the best possible care of your good boy or girl. Pet insurance can be especially beneficial in apartment living:
- If there are other dogs in the building, then Fido is prone to catching doggie diseases. This can include kennel cough, which is common among dogs that spend a lot of time in enclosed spaces and is highly contagious among our canine pals.
- Prevent unplanned pet pregnancies. Despite your best-laid plans, a dog that is not spayed or neutered is in danger of reproducing without your consent, especially in a community where other dogs are nearby. Pet insurance can help to cover the cost of the procedures to avoid an even costlier process: Giving birth to puppies and finding new homes for them.
- In the South especially, your dog is prone to diseases caused by pests like fleas, mosquitos, and ticks. Your building should have a set pest control method already, but take your own precautions to prevent your dog from getting sick. While most pet insurance doesn’t cover flea and tick treatments, you might look into a wellness branch of your insurance plan.
- Ensure that if there was an accident or emergency, you can afford to save your dog’s life if the time comes. This can range anywhere from getting into a fight with another dog or getting hit by a car. Nobody wants to imagine something bad happening to their beloved doggo, but in case the worst were to happen, would you be able to afford prompt and necessary treatment?
Preparation can save you so much time and heartache down the road. It’s expensive to keep a dog healthy, but it’s even more expensive to care for a sick dog. Investing in pet insurance is one way to help ease your mind in case of an emergency. Plus, as an apartment dweller, you are more prone to doggie danger than if you were in a private residence. Take control of your dog’s health and safety by looking into insurance policies for him.
See If You Qualify for a Service Animal
If all else fails, you can try to get around no-pet policies by registering your dog as a service animal. A dog that holds the oh-so-prestigious title of Service Pup is a dog that has undergone special training to work for a person with a disability. Some examples of working service dogs include seeing-eye dogs for their visually impaired humans, who can alert you of any allergens or other triggers that might cause a medical issue, and even retrieving medications if you’re showing signs of distress.
Note that emotional support dogs, while absolutely the best therapy of all, do not qualify as working service dogs. There is no doubt that they are doing a very important job, but they are sadly not considered as a service animal. A dog must be doing an active job to qualify as a service pet — but we won’t tell your pupper if you won’t. Make sure that your dog fits the specifications of a service animal before trying to register him in your state.
Listen, we get it: If you’re living in an apartment and you’re a pet parent, you will either find a pet-friendly apartment or find another place to live. Where you go, your dog goes, and there’s no shame in that whatsoever. But make sure that, when you’re trying to navigate through your choices, you find a place that is also a good home for your dog. Proper fencing and safety protocols are super important, as well as knowing what to expect in the way of deposits and possible damage. Ask all the questions and double-check before signing the lease.