Almost half of American households have at least one dog, according to the Humane Society of the United States. This number could be higher if moving-related issues didn't send approximately eight million animals to shelters every year. "Moving" and "landlord won't allow" are two of the top five reasons people relinquish a pet.
There are flexible landlords out there, however, and it is possible to find a good place for you and your pup. Here are the top 10 things to take into consideration when looking for a dog-friendly place to live.
1) Size Matters
It's not the best idea to rent a studio or one-bedroom apartment if you have a St. Bernard. Confining large animals to small places can cause several problems, including weight issues (that can lead to diabetes), irritability and restlessness. However, if you can only get into a small apartment and have a large dog, don't give your best friend away—you can make it work, you'll just have to be extra diligent about getting him out for exercise. Of course, if you have a Chihuahua, any size place will do.
Humane societies across the country offer pet-friendly apartment listings and property management contact information. Also, browse online apartment-search websites and check the box in the search criteria labeled "pets." There are several sites that only offer pet-friendly apartment options.
3) Location, Location, Location
When analyzing a location, ask yourself:
• Is there a park close by?
• Is there a busy street or intersection?
• Are the lawns groomed and free of other dog waste?
• Are other pets on leashes?
• Is there a dog park in the neighborhood?
4) Check for Evidence
It's not just about the landlord allowing you to rent the apartment; you have to be happy with it, too. Look for evidence of old animal stains on the carpets (a black light shows urine glowingly). Look for signs of termites or bed bugs, because there are large amounts of infestations across the country. In fact, bed bugs are an epidemic, and yes, they will feed on your dog.
5) Private Landlord
Sometimes it's best to find a private landlord instead of a property management company, because they are can be more flexible with pet policies, and they have the power to make amendments to existing rules. Some points you can use in negotiations:
• Good credit and rental history can make the landlord more comfortable
• Show him proof that your dog's vaccinations are up-to-date and she/he is spayed/neutered
• Get a letter of recommendation from your vet or past landlords
• Offer to have carpets cleaned before vacating
6) Get a Degree
Take your pooch to basic obedience and training classes. Get a certificate you can bring to your landlord, proving you and Fluffy will make ideal renters.
7) Get Together
If your potential landlord is on the fence about it, arrange a meet-and-greet to sway him. Clean your pup, put a collar on him and walk him beforehand. Bring training treats to offer for good behavior.
8) Offer Pet Deposit
Usually an apartment complex will require a pet deposit anyway, but if you are running into a wall trying to get a place, offer a larger pet deposit (refundable when you move out, though).
9) Service Dogs
No landlord can refuse to rent to someone because they have a service dog, even if the building has a "no pets" policy.
10) Be Honest
Don't hide your animals from the landlord. If the property management finds that you have a dog, they can either null the contract or evict you and send you and your pooch out on the street. They can also charge fees double or triple what you would have paid in the beginning.
Dog lovers are compassionate, friendly people, and living among like-minded people usually makes for a great little community. Happy hunting!