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Simply allowing pets at your community is a solid start to attracting today’s renters. Reducing or eliminating breed and weight restrictions is even better. But as part of an effort to increase pet-friendliness at apartment communities, operators must address another key facet—promoting responsible pet ownership.

Excessive barking, lawns strewn with pet waste, and an overabundant pet population aren’t good for anyone—pet owners, non-pet owners, visitors, and property teams included—but all these issues can surface as the result of welcoming pets in a haphazard fashion.

While bolstering pet-friendliness is a noble pursuit, properties must strike the balance of doing so in a way that creates a welcoming, safe, and comfortable atmosphere for everyone. Here are a few concepts operators can employ to make it happen.

1. Help Keep Pet Vax Records Current

One of the primary signs of being a responsible pet owner is keeping vaccinations up to date. Property teams can assist with this by utilizing a digital database with detailed profiles of each pet upon move-in, including vaccination records. When a pet is approaching a vaccination due date, the community can provide a reminder. As an added touch, properties can partner with local veterinarians and easily refer residents to their services.

2. Have Resources and Rules to Conquer Pet Waste

Unattended pet waste is one of the most cited pet-related complaints. Unfortunately, not all pet owners will be responsible and pick up after their pets every time, but properties can help make that happen. Primarily, installing pet-waste stations and keeping them regularly stocked with bags will promote responsible habits. Communities can also issue rules that will help discourage any irresponsible behaviors—provided the property stands by the rules and enforces them. Properties continuing to experience difficulties can consider adopting a dog DNA service, which helps identify the offending pet and owner. Oftentimes the mere presence of this type of service limits irresponsible habits.

3. Offer the Right Amenities and Features

While some communities might go all out with their amenities and make it something of a pet wonderland, those with more limited resources also can provide a pet-friendly, pet-responsible experience. A pet park with shade is among the most crucial features craved by pet owners, and pet wash stations can be offered within reasonable budgetary constraints. It’s no secret that pets need a place to work off excess energy, and the resulting contentment afterward often limits extraneous barking or other disruptive behaviors.

4. Properly Track Your Pet Population

Unreported pets can cause myriad issues. For one, a community loses out on pet revenue from any unreported pets living on-site. Perhaps worse, it can create extended liability issues. It can also catch community personnel off guard if they enter a home on a service request and aren’t expecting pets, or a certain number of them, to be in the home. Tools are available that ensure residents formally acknowledge a community’s rule that residents inform the property of any and all pets in their unit, whether those pets are owned by the resident or are there because the resident is pet-sitting or hosting a visitor with pets. Having to acknowledge these rules and pledging to follow them increases the likelihood that residents will indeed adhere to them.

5. Partner With Local Services

Residents often seek out training services, particularly for younger pets who might require a little guidance. Many residents also need someone to visit during the workday and tend to their pets. Communities can make this easier by partnering with training and dog-walking providers—and perhaps can offer residents discounts if they use the preferred service. Properties also can partner with mobile groomers and similar concierge-type services to help augment the pet-friendly approach.

In general, the industry has made positive strides in recent years regarding its welcoming of pets. In today’s competitive marketplace, saying you’re pet-friendly must be more than just allowing pets on-site. Being pet-friendly includes promoting responsible pet ownership and offering some helpful pet experiences. This approach can help communities truly experience the greatest impact for everyone.

This is the seventh installment of a monthly series by John Bradford. Previous topics include debunking the myth of dangerous dog breeds; resident retention through pet inclusiveness; the state of pets in multifamily in 2023, the rise of pet-centric amenities, rethinking pet breed and weight restrictions, and navigating fraudulent accommodation requests for assistance animals.