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Making a Pet-Friendly Apartment Ideal for Your Dog

Ah, the allure of man (and woman’s) best friend. If you’re a dog lover, it’s a hard to resist the pull of getting your own pooch. But once you do, finding a dog-friendly apartment – especially downtown – is just the beginning. You also have to live with the dog in an apartment setting. Here are some tips on how to make it work.

1. Find a pet-friendly apartment. Before you get the dog (or if you have one already), take a look at the pet-friendly locations around Madison. Use or and search for apartments that allow pets.

2. Read the fine print on your pet policy. Once you find a property owner that will allow dogs, go through the policy with a fine-tooth comb (flea combs will do). You want to know exactly what you’ll be responsible for and how much more your security deposit or rent will be. You may also find some specific requirements that are hidden in the fine print. For example, one owner actually required you carry your dog through the lobby. Find out where you can walk your dog and if there are any size or breed restrictions.

3. Choose a dog breed geared to urban living. If you love big dogs that have boundless amounts of energy, a downtown apartment might not be the best call. Even though there are dog parks in the downtown area, keeping a big dog cooped up in a small apartment probably won’t work for anyone.

4. Pick up after your dog. Nothing infuriates a non-dog owner (i.e. your neighbors) more than stepping in a mound of doo-doo. Be mindful of the messes your dog leaves behind; you want to keep your neighbors happy.

5. Curb the barking. Perhaps even more infuriating than a doggie landmine is the chronic barker. If you can find a breed that keeps quiet, that’s great. Exercise is always a way to tire out a dog and wear out their woof. Also avoid leaving the dog alone for long periods of time as that often leads to barking, howling, and generally noisy shenanigans.

6. Hire a dog walker. Dogs need exercise, and if you don’t have a big backyard to let them run around in, your pooch will require regular walks. That may be a tall order if you’re a busy student or a professional working downtown. Hiring a dog walker can help get your furry friend the right amount of exercise.

7. Before you buy or adopt it, clear it with your landlord. If you don’t have a pet yet, don’t assume that your property owner will give you the green light. Many property owners don’t allow pets. Be sure to check first to avoid a very difficult situation.

8. Make sure they’re housebroken. A dog that has chronic accidents inside the house can destroy carpets and hardwood floors. Be diligent about their training and use “pee pads”, if necessary, to avoid soiled carpets.

9. Train them to play with toys. You really don’t want your dog chewing up cabinet doors, carpeting or a roommate. Get some bones or toys to keep them from biting in expensive areas.

10. Maintain their health. Regular visits to a vet are a must, especially for rabies shots, etc. Downtown Madison has a number of vets who can help you maintain Fido’s health.

11. Crate-train your dog. It’s not cruel to put your dog in a crate. In fact, it’s a nice retreat and can help an anxious dog feel secure. Naturally, you want to balance out crate-time with plenty of exercise, but restricting a dog from run of the house can eliminate chewing, accidents, and potentially barking.

12. Give the pooch space. Make sure there’s plenty of room to roam throughout the apartment, especially if you choose to leave the dog uncrated during the day.

13. Provide a view. If your dog isn’t a barker, a nice view outside can keep them entertained. Just make sure your pooch won’t leap through the window at the first sign of a squirrel to chase.

Living with a dog in downtown Madison can be very enjoyable, but be sure you’ve got a breed and a living situation that’s fair to all involved. Owning a dog is a lot like having a child: They require a lot of attention, care and love.

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