Moving with a new pet

You’re used to having a house with a big backyard, and even though you have a smaller dog, your pet can easily go inside and outside when she feels like it, and there is enough space both inside and outside of your home to meet all of your pet’s needs. Now, however, you are moving to a nice but much smaller apartment, and you’re wondering what pet-friendly is going to mean in this new space and how you are going to achieve it. Following are five important things to consider:

Read That Lease

Never assume any apartment complex is pet-friendly just because you see a fenced-in dog walking area. If you don’t read every line of your lease—especially those clauses that apply to pet ownership in the complex—you could be in for some serious surprises. Check the security deposit language and make sure you understand your responsibilities considering pet wear and tear. Understand what constitutes a lease default and if your pet’s behavior could lead to that occurrence. We know legal help can be expensive, but in this case it may be wise to get a real estate lawyer to look at any lease before you sign it.

Right Dog, Right Place

Thinking of taking your 200 pound Newfie to that cool 20th floor downtown apartment? Maybe think again! Although it can be true that big dogs can live in high-rises—this can actually work especially if your breed is less active—make sure your pet understands the elevator routine and is cool with it. Also, since Newfoundlands can look like small bears, consider the elevator-mate dog terror issue.

Smoke Free

If you don’t smoke, your dog or cat might freak out in a smoke-filled environment, so find a smoke-free complex.

Basic Furniture Covering

Look, we all get the itch occasionally, and some new surroundings can cause your pet to start scratching everything in sight. We suggest you skip the really fancy furniture for now and get serviceable stuff that your pet cannot easily damage. Maybe put grandma’s French Provincial chair in storage for a while ‘til your kitty gets better acclimated to her new community environment.


If you are going to leave your pets in your new small apartment for eight or more hours a day, don’t expect them to just sleep. The last thing you want is to come home to a Secret Life of Pets’ surprise. And one way to minimize this risk is to use child-proof hardware on cabinets and drawers. We’re sure you’ve seen enough online cat videos to see what can happen when your pet is left unattended, so make sure you button everything up so both your pet and your belongings are safe while you are at work.

Apartment living can be a radical change from a single-family home situation. For example, if you’re moving into a small Milwaukee apartment from a huge house in the beautiful Wisconsin suburbs, you might be facing a huge change. But with some preparation, you can make your new but smaller place friendly for your beloved pet.