People often assume that they cannot have a pet, especially a dog, if they live in an apartment. And dog owners sometimes think that they need to get rid of their dog because a living situation changes and they are moving into an apartment. However, apartment living does not automatically mean no dogs.
There are many pet-friendly rentals, including apartments, throughout the metro area. It just sometimes takes a little more research to find housing that includes fur babies.
I have heard people say that living in an apartment is unfair to a pet, but it is a common misconception that pets need a big yard. The fact is that dogs, even large dogs, just need to get proper exercise. Daily walks or visits to a dog park are more than enough to keep a canine family member happy.
Furthermore, most rescue organizations and shelters do not require that people who are ready to adopt a pet have yards because they do not want dogs to be left unattended outside. Dogs should be a part of the family, and they want to be indoors with their loved ones. Dogs left alone in a yard are prone to boredom and the behaviors that come with that such as digging, escaping, excessive barking and more.
Not all apartments allow pets, and those that do often have weight or breed restrictions and require a separate pet deposit. There may be limits on the number of pets allowed.
If a family is looking to rent and already has a pet, have references on-hand from veterinarians, neighbors and former landlords that show the pet is well-kept, up-to-date on vaccinations and say you are a responsible pet owner. You might also arrange a meet-and-greet so a potential landlord can see what a great pup you have.
When pet-friendly apartment shopping, here are some things to consider:
THE LEVEL MATTERS: First-floor apartments give direct access to the outdoors. This makes potty trips quick, easy and hassle-free, especially first thing in the morning or late at night. This is also great if the family dog is not familiar with stairs or would have trouble maneuvering stairs due to health or age.
ROUTINE AND EXERCISE ARE ESSENTIAL: If the family is moving from a home where the dog had a yard, make sure to give him outside time with walks, jogs or dog park visits. Too many people rely on the yard for their pet’s exercise. Get out and exercise with your pups. This is a great way to establish new routines, explore the new neighborhood, and meet new neighbors and fellow dog owners.
BE MINDFUL OF NEIGHBORS: Now that the family will be sharing a wall with neighbors, try limiting roughhousing and play that may evoke barking to the outdoors. Have a good variety of toys and treats on hand to keep the pet occupied while at home and indoors, especially when the family is away at work and the dog is home alone.
CONSIDER A DOG WALKER OR DAY CARE: Dogs should not be left alone for extended periods of time — whether indoors or out — for their safety and mental and physical well-being. This applies to everyone, not just apartment dwellers. If no one will be home for long hours, consider hiring a dog walker or joining a dog day care.
ASK FIRST: Get landlord approval before adopting a new pup. Nothing is worse than having to return a dog because he does not meet housing requirements. Remember, cats like apartments, too, so if the complex is not dog friendly, consider a cat.
BE OPEN TO ALTERNATIVES: If finding an apartment proves difficult, look for single-family or double-home rentals. A real estate agent can assist in finding pet-friendly options.
No one should have to give up a pet simply because they are moving, or be denied the joy of pet companionship because they do not own a home or live in a small space. Do the necessary homework to find proper housing for the entire family, even the pets.
Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email [email protected] or for more info on ARNO, visit www.animalrescueneworleans.org.