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Tips for Owning a Big Dog in a Small Apartment


Dog playing outsideBy Niccole Schreck - Rent.com


I've heard it many times before: You have a large dog in an apartment? That's just cruel! But I have some good news, renters--it's not cruel to have a big dog in an apartment, if you do it the right way. In fact, some large dog breeds make excellent apartment pets! Ensure rental bliss for you and your overgrown furry friend with these tips.

Find the Right Neighborhood

Some neighborhoods are more dog-friendly than others. Before you start your apartment search, make sure you choose a neighborhood with plenty to offer you and your pet. You'll want to make sure there is grass nearby for your pup to do his or her business, places to go for a walk, and a park for some much-needed exercise.

When you are looking at neighborhood parks, keep in mind that many require you to keep your dog on a leash--which is certainly not as fun as running free. Look for a neighborhood that has an off-leash dog park, so your dog can run around and play with other dogs.

Many neighborhoods also have dog-friendly spas, salons, and stores where you can take your pet to shop. While you may not find a dog spa or salon in every neighborhood, pet shops are much more common. Your pup can walk with you as you buy him or her more dog food and toys. A lot of pet stores also have training programs. You can sign up for an owner and pet class to help strengthen your relationship. It’s also a fun weekend activity to do in your new neighborhood and a place to meet other dog owners in the area.

Find the Right Apartment

According to a Rent.com survey, 83 percent of renters have had difficulty finding a pet-friendly apartment. I see that difficulty and raise you one 70-pound pit bull mix. While finding a pet-friendly rental can definitely be a challenge, it becomes even more challenging when you have a big dog. Many apartment complexes--especially those owned by large property management companies--have size, weight, and breed restrictions. (As a pit parent, you can probably guess how I feel about breed restrictions.)

But big-dog-friendly apartments do exist, so don't give up! If you're having trouble, consider creating a pet resume. It may sound silly, but this can really work. Be sure to include a description of your dog's personality, any obedience training completed, validation of shots and health, letters of recommendation from your prior landlords and neighbors, and of course, a photo. Who can resist that beautiful puppy face? You can also set up a dog-to-face meeting so your potential landlord can see how well-behaved your dog is, and reassure your good intentions of caring for the apartment by providing proof of renters insurance.

Establish a Routine

Dogs are smart and most can easily adapt to the apartment lifestyle. You can make things easier on your pet by establishing and sticking to a routine. Set times for potty breaks, feeding, walking, and playing. In addition to helping your big dog feel comfortable in your apartment, sticking to a routine will also help prevent accidents on your apartment floor.

One challenge renters face is not having a backyard with doggie door access. If you work full-time and can't take a mid-day break to go home and take your dog out, consider hiring a dog walker or taking your pet to doggie daycare. Could you imagine "holding it" for nine hours? Didn't think so.

Plenty of Exercise

All dogs--regardless of size or living situation--need exercise to stay healthy and happy. While daily walks are great, you also want to get your dog's heart rate up with real exercise. That's where those dog parks you found in your new neighborhood come in! Exactly how much exercise your dog needs will depend on its breed, so do your research before you adopt to make sure you choose a pup that will fit your lifestyle.

Niccole Schreck is a rental experience expert for Rent.com, a free rental site that helps you find an affordable pet-friendly apartment and provides tips on how to move with your pet. She is also the proud owner of two dogs, Bella and Wallace, and a cat named Frisby.


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