How to Be a Responsible Dog Owner When You’re Living in a Rental

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For most landlords, there isn’t anything more frightening or stressful than the thought of your tenant owning a dog and what it might do to the value of your rental. Living in Colorado, there are more rentals to be found that are dog friendly since this is the most dog friendly city in the world (it would seem) — but it’s still not always easy for your landlord to trust you with a pup.

I recently bought a puppy — and knowing all the work that goes into this new little creature, I asked my landlord before committing on a dog in the first place. My landlord’s policy said that dogs were allowed but that he could make a decision based on breeds and age of the dog. So I understood he would need to see my level of commitment to ensure the puppy-landlord relationship remained a good one. 

According to experienced property owner, real estate investor, and my colleague and friend Mindy Jensen, “Landlords want to feel comfortable that your dog won’t destroy their property. Untrained dogs can chew the woodwork, urinate on the floors — destroying the wood — or even defecate on the carpet, necessitating replacement.

Related: Does Allowing Pets in Your Rentals Make Sense (or Just Scents)?

However, I’ve seen children do far worse to property than animals. They can draw on the walls with a Sharpie marker — good luck getting that out. It takes about 9 coats of Kilz to cover Sharpie. They can make holes in a wall, rip the railings out of the studs by hanging on them, rip the cabinets off the hinges, etc.

No, not every child will do that, but also not every dog will do that. Prove to your landlord that your animal is well behaved. Provide training certificates or invite them to meet your animal in person for an interview.”

So without our landlord necessarily asking, we decided to take it upon ourselves to enact a few changes to make sure our landlord would be more comfortable with the idea of us having a dog.

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Outside of the Property

Patching the Fence

My boyfriend and I took our own money and made a few (landlord-approved) upgrades that would help once we had a dog on the property. We fixed the fence that surrounded our backyard where it had a few holes or looked a bit damaged that a dog could eventually wreak more havoc on and brought it back to tip-top shape.

Cleaning Up the Landscaping

We cleaned out all the flower beds of bushes and flowers that could be harmful to the dog and replaced them with fresh new plants that were easy to maintain (and non-toxic) with a dog around.

landscaping

Growing New Grass

We reseeded the yard where some of the grass had died to fill it with lush grass for our new puppy to play on. We also wanted to eliminate the chances of dirt being tracked into the house onto the new carpet.

Protecting the Plants

We fenced in the garden so our new puppy wouldn’t cause damage to the area or think this was her own little outdoor jungle.

Inside the Property

Protecting the Floors

We took out our expensive rugs and replaced them with cheap rugs to make sure our hardwood floors wouldn’t get ruined by doggy claws, rain, or outdoor soil.

home-staging-tips

Dog-Proofing Chewable Items

We covered anything chewable, such as molding, that the doggy could ruin with pieces of our own furniture or no bite spray.

Acquiring a Sturdy Dog Crate

We purchased a heavy duty dog crate that could adequately hold our new puppy while we weren’t around. With correct crate training, we’re confident our new pup won’t be able to damage the rental while we’re away from home.

Related: Emotional Support Animals & Waiver of “No Pet” Policies: What Does the Law Say?

It’s understandable that landlords find themselves against most people owning dogs in their rentals, but I hope some landlords also consider that there are responsible dog owners out there who have respect for the properties they live in and who train their dogs appropriately.

Renters: Have you had issues getting your dog approved in the homes you’ve rented? How did you prove to your landlord that your dog wouldn’t destroy the property? Landlords: Do you allow dogs? Why or why not?

Let me know what you think with a comment.

About Author

Hilary Catton

I am the Director of Member and Public Relations for BiggerPockets! My expertise encompasses different aspects of strategic communications, where I observe member analytics, and grow our audience by developing and executing strategies that are intended to create and uphold a positive public image for our company. I manage and oversee our quick and amazing support team, and make sure our members have the best experience while interacting on our site. I directly work on forming relationships with various members of the media, government, and the general public to generate new business opportunities for the growth of BiggerPockets!

3 Comments

  1. Eric Neal

    Great post, Hilary,

    Another important thing for dogs owners to note is the breed of dog they have and it’s exercise needs. Some dogs need a brick hour walk every day while some can be happy with a light walk 3 or 4 times a week. That destructive behavior can often be tied to a combination of separation anxiety and the stress of no excercise. Proper activity levels help with both.

  2. We haven’t had any problems so far renting to people with dogs, cats, rabbits, gerbils, or fish yet. So far no birds as pets yet. I think we have the following in our favor: our insurance company doesn’t allow certain breeds of dogs, we require all pets to be licensed & vaccinated, and we go over the pet agreement with prospective tenants.

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