One sure sign that a downtown neighborhood is becoming a fashionable place to live—more than just a commercial district—is the number of dogs out and about on the sidewalks. Today, many apartment buildings and individual landlords are developing increasingly lenient pet policies to attract more dog owners to these newly gentrified urban areas.
There’s no question that city living offers many on-tap conveniences that make it an attractive alternative to a suburban lifestyle. But how dog friendly is downtown? There is much more to consider when it comes to your pal’s well-being than the landlord’s consent or the homeowner policy confirming that pets are welcome.
Seeking Out Pet Friendly Buildings
Whether you are looking to rent or buy, the best way to find out if the neighborhood is dog friendly is to take your dog for a walk and stop to talk to anyone else out walking their dog.
Many realtors are now paying special attention to the pet-loving sector of the apartment housing market. So it’s a good idea to seek out someone who specializes in such properties. Veterinarian offices, groomers and pet stores are also a mine of information and many have notice boards with postings of suitable apartments in the area.
Honesty is the Best Policy
When hunting for a new home for you and your dog, always allow extra time to find the right accommodation. It could take up to six months. If an advertisement states firmly “No Pets,” don’t even try to fight the system. If no mention of pets is made, then you have leeway to try to include your pal in your lease agreement or offer to purchase.
Whether you are buying or renting, honesty is the best policy. The Humane Society of the United States recommends that you disclose information about your dogs up front. Never try to sneak your pal into a building where pets are not welcome. Apart from creating an uncomfortable living situation, it could also result in legal wrangling down the line and even an eviction notice for you and your dog.
Your Dog’s Resume
How can you convince a landlord that your dog would be a good tenant? One suggestion is to have a resume for your pet. Consider signing your pal up for the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen program, a certification program designed to reward dogs that have good manners at home and in the community. You can even ask to bring your dog along to open houses so that prospective landlords can meet your pooch. But be careful—one slip-up can do more damage than hours of sits and tail-wagging can undo!
Finally, when you are renting with a dog, be prepared to pay a pet security deposit to cover any pet related damage to the property. Some landlords even charge an additional monthly fee for the pet. In some instances buildings do allow pets but have a weight restriction of 35 pounds. And remember, if a landlord agrees to overlook his “No Pets” clause, get it in writing!
Get Involved and Make a Difference
Now that you have secured a place for you and your pal to live downtown, how do you make it comfortable environment? Because downtown areas are typically concrete jungles, the biggest problem facing dog owners is lack of accessible green spaces for canine companions to roll around and feel grass under their feet.
Of course, if you live in a downtown area with few canine amenities, doggy day care is a one option for your dog’s well-being. Outside many urban buildings, dog-loving residents can be seen gathering together in the early mornings waiting for a pet taxi to take their pals to day care or on an adventure outing. If you have chosen to live in a downtown area, there’s no reason why you can’t help to make the surroundings more dog friendly. Many dog parks around the country owe their existence to dog lovers lobbying for pet friendly amenities for their canine pals. Often, the dog owners actually participate in the work of converting a vacant piece of property into a dog park, and help to keep it clean and attractive. In downtown Los Angeles for example, Pershing Square is currently cordoned off and unused. Residents are lobbying city officials to turn it over to the dogs to provide a green belt within easy reach of the growing residential community.
There is one other way you can help. By seeing that your pet is always on her best behavior in the public areas and by always cleaning up after her on the streets, you are reinforcing the perspective that dogs are no trouble to other residents, and thus you are paving the way for more buildings in your city to consider becoming part of the pet friendly community.