How to Coexist When Living in an Apartment with Pets
Life with roommates can bring joy or misery, and the result starts and ends with basic compatibility and conscious coexisting. This principle is no different when you’re considering introducing a new fur roommate. If you rent an apartment, like many young adults in the Seattle area, you may wonder how life with a pet works when you’ve signed a lease. If you feel you’re ready to become a pet parent, here’s how to successfully share close living quarters with your future roommate — and soon-to-be best friend.
(Bonus: If you’re already sharing an apartment with a pet, many of these tips still apply to you!).
1. Consult your landlord
First things first: if you don’t already own a pet but are curious about bringing home a new addition, check the pet policy on the lease for your current unit. If the unit is pet-friendly, discuss specific requirements with your landlord before beginning the search for your companion. For instance, what kinds of pets are allowed? Some apartments allow cats only, some allow dogs only, and some enforce breed, size, and quantity limitations.
As you learn about your landlord’s specific rules, you’ll also want to inquire about any additional fees — including pet deposit (and whether or not it is refundable), pet rent, and more. If possible, try to complete an official lease amendment — or secure the terms of your discussion in writing — before you bring home your new friend. If your current living situation does not allow pets under any circumstances, you’ll need to postpone your decision until you’re able to move into a pet-friendly unit. Regardless, you’ll know how to move forward once you and your landlord are on the same page.
2. Consider your pet’s characteristics
Before you consider the nuances of each breed, determine what kind of pet is most suitable for your lifestyle and caregiving capabilities. As you’d probably assume, some of the most common companion choices include dogs, cats, small mammals such as rabbits, or small rodents such as hamsters or guinea pigs — and each offers its own perks and challenges. For example: dogs will need to be taken outdoors for regular bathroom breaks, while cats simply need access to a clean litter box; certain dog personalities require consistent attention and interaction throughout the day, while many cats can thrive with scheduled daily play sessions between independent naps and grooming sessions; and dogs and cats may prefer to roam about the house, while rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs will require a safe and comfortable enclosure.
Once you narrow down your selection, research breed types based on size, temperament, and other common qualities. Even if you fall in love with an unknown breed or mixed-breed companion, heading to an adoption center with a basic idea of physical and temperamental breed characteristics can help you make a more informed decision. For instance, larger, high-energy dogs may not adapt well to life in a small apartment with no yard. Certain dog breeds are more likely to thrive in an apartment setting. You’ll also want to consider your pet’s existing or potential health needs, as well as his or her age, since puppies, kittens, and young or senior animals will require more of a time (and often financial) commitment.
3. Consider your neighbors
A little neighborly love goes a long way — especially when you’ve got a pet in the mix. Stay on yours neighbors’ good sides by considering ways to respect their privacy (and sanity) when it comes to realities such as noise. If you own a large or heavier pet, a ground floor unit is typically your best bet, as your fur friend can move about the apartment with less reserve.
If you live above another unit, try your best to stick to outdoor play sessions for pups. Take them to the dog park for a rousing round of fetch or walk (or jog) several laps around the neighborhood to help them expend as much energy as possible. If your apartment contains wood or tile flooring, position area rugs wherever possible to help absorb any excited thumps or scattering paws. Adequate training (and socialization) is always necessary, especially for dogs — and it can make all the difference when it comes to living in apartment harmony. Make every effort to control barking, whining, scratching, and other problematic behaviors. You, your family, your community, and your pet will all be happier for it.
4. Remember safety first
Raising a safe, healthy, and happy pet means remaining proactive about several necessities. Start by ensuring you comply with any local laws, such as registering your pet with an up-to-date city license. Stay current with your pet’s vaccinations, spay or neuter any unaltered pets, and invest in a microchip (just remember to update any contact information if you move, change names, or switch phone numbers!). Finally, ensure your living space is safe for your best buds. Take care not to leave windows open, unplug electronics when they’re not in use or when you leave the room, and keep pets away from toxic plants, dangerous human foods, and poisonous household products.
5. Keep them entertained and exercised
Last but not least, prevent destructive behaviors and enrich your pet’s life by keeping them entertained inside your apartment and ensuring adequate exercise. Supply plenty of interactive pet toys, provide pet furniture (such as a tower or two for kitties to climb and scratch), and hire a trustworthy sitter or local dog walker to give your special roommates the TLC they deserve while you’re away.
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