A lot of places in the US have GSDs on their banned breed list, which makes finding German Shepherd friendly apartments for your dog a lot more difficult.
In my experience, you would have to accept some compromise to find German Shepherd friendly apartments for your fido—either you have to spend more, live in a less desirable location, or rent from a less than desirable landlord.
Here’re a few other tips you can take to help your apartment hunt go as smoothly as possible.
Understand Apartment Fees and Restrictions
Although not all but most apartment buildings do not allow dogs over 55 lbs or dogs deemed aggressive like German Shepherds. Even if some places let you bring your GSD, they will charge you additional fees.
These additional fees are not limited to dogs like German Shepherds alone. Almost all apartments require tenants to pay additional costs (around $150-$200 per dog) for bringing their canine pals along.
If you think that some places charge too much for your dog, you may want to check with the local regulations to make sure.
People with Disabilities are Exempt from Fees and Restrictions
Under the Fair Housing Act, if you’re disabled, you have a right to bring a service or emotional support dog, regardless of the building’s pet policy. If your German Shepherd acts as a service dog for you, you can take advantage of this law.
Moreover, service and emotional support dogs are exempt from additional pet fees.
Look for Private Landlords
Private landlords who don’t work with large property management agencies may be more lenient with you than rental companies would be.
The reason rental companies saying no to your furry friend has nothing to do with the breed restrictions but more because of their insurance policies.
Talk with the landlord and find out if he or she is a dog lover or not. A dog-lover landlord may sympathize with you and accept your German Shepherd dog.
Take Advantage of Online Listings
You can begin to search through online listings to find German Shepherd friendly apartments. Craiglist, Trulia, and Apartment.com are an excellent place to start. They all have a search feature to narrow down your pet-friendly apartment search.
For more exclusive listings you can go to websites like PeopleWithPets.com that only lists pet-friendly rentals.
Build Your Dog’s Resume
Having a pet resume to show your prospective landlords can speed up the screening process. Things you need to include in your dog’s resume are a current photo, name, age, size, breed, weight, training certifications, and medical information.
AKC has a good example of how your dog’s resume should look like.
For training certification, you can enroll your GSD in a Canine Good Citizen program, held by AKC. The program doesn’t take that much training, and having the CGC certificate can help more landlords open their doors to you.
And to spice up your dog’s resume, you may want to ask for a letter of recommendation from previous landlords and neighbors.
Promote Your Dog
During an interview with your landlord, you should let him know you share similar concerns with them. Most landlords will have concerns on your dog’s cleanliness and behaviors.
Tell them that your GSD is potty trained, vaccinated, flea-controlled, microchipped, neutered, heartworm negative, knows basic commands, pretty well-behaved, etc.
And having the CGC certificate is a surefire way to back up your claims.
Ask Dog Shelters
You may want to try dog shelters in your area; they often have a list of recommended pet-friendly apartments.
Have Your German Shepherd Spayed/Neutered
Many apartment buildings limit the number of dogs that the tenants can bring to a total of 2 dogs. If your GSDs have been spayed/neutered, most landlords are much more likely to welcome you because they won’t breed and rear the number they should.
Offer to Pay a Pet Deposit
If you’re renting from a private landlord, you might be able to sway his “no-GSD” policy by offering to pay a pet deposit upfront. This will make potential landlord at ease if he worries about your dog’s behavior.
Get Insurance for Your Dog
Since German Shepherd is considered an aggressive breed, getting pet insurance can further boost up your landlord’s confidence in your GSD.
Note that dog bites are one of the most commonly reported animal bite injuries in the US, so you want to make your insurance company covers dog bites and other damages your German Shepherd might cause.
Check and Inspect Before Renting an Apartment
Now you have found a nice pet-friendly apartment that is willing to accept your German Shepherd, but your job is not done yet. Your last step before signing up the lease is to check the area around the apartment, your neighbors, and their pets.
Are there dog-friendly amenities such as dog waste trash can, dog parks, dog daycares, pet center, vet services, dog-friendly restaurants, and shopping malls? Some pet-friendly apartments even go as far as providing tenants with pet grooming, training, and fun events.
Events such as evening pet socialization at the clubhouse or dog park not only can make your dog feel welcomed but also can help strike up a conversation with your neighbors.
The 1983 New York Law
The 1983 New York Law states that you and your dog are legally protected if your landlord knows both of you have been living in the apartment for three months or more, and no lawsuits have been filled in that time.
When a lease doesn’t contain any pet policy, it defaults to local law, and your landlord cannot ask you to leave if you don’t want.