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Renting and the Potential Pet Owner

Updated on August 27, 2015

Dogs and Rentals

My mom and dad own a pet-sitting business in San Diego. This means, that all through high school, I spent my time after school running around with upwards of six dogs that would be at my home at any given time. These days, my parents still have their business and when I’m in town and have the time, I like to spend my days driving from house to house, walking the pooches whose owners are away on business and pleasure. The older I’ve gotten, however, the more I’ve come to realize that there are many owners who don't follow rental guidelines for their pets. From clients who have too large of dogs for their tiny, yard-less apartment, to those who have had to give their pet up for breaking rental agreements, I’ve seen one too many dogs go the way of adoption when their owners did not pay attention to the rules.

For those living in an apartment or rental and feeling the itch to invest in a canine counterpart, I’d like to offer some advice and breeds before taking the plunge.

Does Your Rental Agreement Allow You To Have Pets?

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Review Your Lease or Rental Agreement

Your rental agreement and lease will have very specific outlines for what kind of pets, if any, are allowed in your complex. Be understanding of your property manager’s wishes, respecting if they do not allow dogs as a pet option in their apartments. While it might be something of a let down to have to realize that you cannot invest in the pooch you so desire, it is even more risky still to try and break the rules. If your agreement dictates that you cannot have a dog, perhaps a better option for you would be a cat. Cats are smaller, agile, and do not require a lot of space to be happy, meaning that they’ll cause less of a potential mess in your rental. Remember, a rental is something meant to be returned, meaning that your landlord is only ensuring that they keep their property from being destroyed.

DO NOT Break Your Property Manager's Rules

As mentioned above, I’ve seen many dogs (and cats for that matter) go the way of adoption agencies or rescues because their owners simply had to give them up. If you’re planning on making the lifetime investment of a dog or cat, while breaking your apartment’s rules, then you run the risk of losing that animal. Be mindful of the fact that your animal has placed its trust solely in your hands. Unfortunately, having been in the ‘biz for several years, I’ve seen many animals get tossed aside the minute a rental agreement was broken. Unless you’re willing to move with your animal in the event that you get caught breaking the terms of your lease, you should absolutely not invest in any animal that is not permitted by your landlord.

Size Does Matter

Take a look at your rental. How big is it? Many rentals (both apartments and otherwise) are too small for the standard dog to live in happily. Unless you are careful to give your pooch special attention, wait on purchasing that dog that will grow to take up half of your living room. On more than one occasion, I’ve witnessed owners who have had to give up their beloved pet because they felt guilty over the size of their apartment. You know how big your animal is likely to get from the time you bring them home. Do not wait until they’re an adult and then give them up because you didn’t give them the size home they deserved. Be aware that your animal has no idea why you might be giving it up; it will not understand that the space is too small or that you broke your lease agreement. All your dog will know is that you have to let him/her go, effectively breaking their heart for a time in the process. Avoid this situation by recognizing that some dogs are better left for a bigger environment that can stimulate their senses and satisfy their energy levels.

Rental Friendly Dogs

Like I said, some dogs are simply better equipped for the apartment life than others. Here are three apartment friendly dogs to consider:

Three of the Best Dogs for Rentals

Boston Terrier
French Bulldog

Boston Terrier

Boston’s are one of the mellower dog breeds. They limit their barking, keeping noise level down, and top off at about 25 pounds at their heaviest. With a low energy level, your Boston Terrier won’t need to be outdoors all of the time. They will do fine with one walk a day and ample indoor play time.


Who doesn’t love a good pug? Pugs are a great, friendly option for an apartment dog. They do not take up much space, weighing in at only 18 pounds, and love to sit and snuggle with their owners on the couch. Not to mention that because of their pushed in snout, a pug’s bark is less sharp than others of its size, keeping your neighbors happy. Your pug will need exercise, however, as they are prone to overeating and gaining weight, meaning that a walk twice a day will be required to satisfy their daily exercise intake.

French Bulldog

Another small to medium-sized dog, “frenchies” are compact breeds that typically weigh in at about 25-28 pounds when fully grown. They require minimal exercise and therefore are fine with one to two outdoor walks a day. Like the others in this list, your French will be content spending time with you, has a muffled bark, and is friendly toward kids.

Your Schedule

Apartments can be lonely places, even for humans! If you live in a rental without a yard, consider how much time you spend at home. Is it enough to keep a dog entertained and happy throughout the day? When working and living in a smaller space without a yard, you must leave your dog to his or her own devices. Dogs, much like humans, can become bored when not expelling enough energy and can do a lot of damage to your rental if you’re not careful. Between walls being chewed, carpets being torn up, and urine causing your rental to smell, a dog requires a lot of upkeep. For those living in a rental that does have a yard and is allowed to have pets, consider securing it well enough that your dog can go outdoors during the day. In either sense, be mindful of your dog’s barking, understanding that your neighbors likely do not want to listen to your dog for the entire day.

What To Look for In A Petsitter

Invest In A Petsitter

Don’t squander your luck at being allowed to have a dog in your rental, embrace it. Hire a petsitter who you trust, particularly for those who are not home the whole day, or who have a larger dog with greater amounts of energy. A lonely dog, as mentioned, can cause a lot more harm than good to your rental, causing you to lose your security deposit or have your rental agreement terminated as a consequence. Invest in someone who is highly qualified to get the job done and who can give your pooch (or any critter for that matter) the attention that they’ll be missing while you're gone. This will help keep your guilt at ease, your property manager satisfied, and more importantly your animal-pal happy throughout the day.

  • Read over your lease agreement for specific terms and rules about owning or having an animal in your rental.
  • Do not try and trick your property manager and risk losing your pooch in the mean time.
  • Consider the space you have available for your potential dog and choose a breed based on their size.
  • Think about your schedule, rental size, and yard situation and how each can affect your new animal’s happiness.
  • Reconsider a dog for the time being and instead think of another lease appropriate animal.

I Can't Have A Dog, Now What?

So maybe you can’t have a dog for now, but you’re allowed smaller animals that can cause less damage and make less noise for your neighbors. If dogs are the only animal strictly prohibited but you’re interested in getting an animal for companionship, consider adopting a cat, setting up an aquarium, or even investing in a rabbit. These animals require a lot less care than a dog, and if allowed by your property manager, can serve as wonderful outlets to your pet-companionship needs.


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    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Justine, that's a great point. Often those security deposits can be pretty steep. I know my apartment charges $400 for our cat and we probably won't ever see it again.

    • profile image

      Justine 2 years ago

      Great article and suggestions for apartment pets! I opted for pug for my tiny little space. Also something to note: Many apartments (at least mine) have pet deposits in addition to the security deposit to take into account any damage that pets will do to the apartment over time... I know with all the carpet stains, I probably won't be getting mine back!