Tips To Move A Dog With A “No Pets Policy”

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I’ve seen a lot of dogs and animals being surrendered lately. One of the main reasons given is that the pet owner moves and the new landlord has a no pets allowed policy. This is sad and frustrating. Our dogs and pets are family. We often have to move for family, jobs, health, or financial reasons to name a few. So, with this in mind, I’m tackling this issue today head-on to get to the bottom of the rental housing no pets issue and find some great solutions.

golden retriever looking through crack of front door of a no pets policy rental

Budget tip:

Dogs, cats, or other pets, are a lifelong commitment. The thought of having to rehome your dog simply because a landlord has a no pets allowed policy, is heartbreaking. While most of these strategies are free, any of them are well worth it. The bottom line is you want to keep your dog in your family. Your dog is part of your family. Thus, the budget tip here is to jump through a few hoops and keep your dog in your family. You got this! Always think positively and aim high.

Why a landlord would say no pets allowed?

First, I always think it’s a good idea to understand the reasoning behind a policy. Let’s try to understand why a landlord has a no pets clause in their lease.

Keep in mind there could be a number of reasons for a landlord citing no pets for their properties. However, most likely the landlord has experienced firsthand issues that have arisen from pets or has witnessed the damage done by a renter’s pets. Generally, it’s not that the landlord has a dislike of dogs or pets.

Moreover, I bet you’re thinking this is just a money issue. Not necessarily. There can be more involved. Remember the landlord does want to make money on the property, but they want to do this with the least amount of headaches. This means diminishing liabilities and problems, as well as increasing revenues.

Thus, fewer or no calls or complaints about a renter, the better.

What kind of headaches could a dog or pet cause to a landlord’s property?  

Of course, these will vary by property. For this put yourself in the landlord’s shoes and evaluate the property you’re interested in renting. What kind of problems can you see with a landlord’s hat?

Generally, you can expect the following to be of concern to any landlord.

Pet urine and feces in the house

This will mean more cleaning or possibly re-carpeting or more when the tenant moves out. As a result, this could be a major expense.

Noise from a barking dog

This could result in complaints from neighbors or even animal control. Thus, a definite headache.

Liability to others

Think of a dog that is untrained, aggressive, or falls into certain dog breeds. There’s an increased liability risk with these types of dogs for the landlord.

Digging issues

If you’re looking at renting a home with a yard, you can easily imagine a dog digging it up and the associated expense to repair it.

Destruction of the yard

Again if you’re looking at a rental home with a yard, look around at what a dog could destroy. This might include patio furniture, fences, or lawn equipment. It could all add up to a big expense for the homeowner, especially if the tenant leaves before a final inspection.

Multiple pets

If you have more than one pet you’re trying to move with, you’ll need to think about this as well. Specifically, if you have three dogs, that could be a major red flag to a landlord that there could be more of a possibility for destruction. However, if you have a dog and fish, that is a different issue. Fish generally don’t cause damage as long as the tank is well maintained.

Either way, be aware that you may have more of an uphill battle when asking a landlord to make an exception for multiple pets. Thus, landlords will often say “one small pet”. However, with documentation, you can overcome this restriction. But be prepared for some pushback if you have more than one pet. Unless your pets include small caged pets such as guinea pigs or as mentioned fish, which can be easy enough to remediate for any damage or liability concern issues.

How can I mediate a landlord saying “no” to pets?

Yes, it can be heartbreaking to hear “no pets allowed”. But don’t give up! Offer references for your potential future landlord.

Once again, look at this from the landlord’s side. In other words, you want people to provide not only character references for you but also for your dog. There are a multitude of people you can ask for these types of references. You can include these references with your rental application. A few great references to try to obtain will include the following:

Current landlord

Yep, a reference from your current landlord can go a long way in your favor. In this reference, you’ll want your landlord to state something to the effect that you are a good, responsible tenant and your dog has never caused any damage or issues.

Doggie daycare

A reference from your doggie daycare should be related to how well your dog plays and doesn’t cause issues while in their care. If your dog doesn’t bark, they could even include that as well.


A reference from your vet is for both you and your dog. You’ll want your vet to say something about you as a responsible dog owner, as well as your dog being up-to-date on vaccines and healthy. And finally, if possible, it would be good for your vet to include something about how well-behaved your dog is while at their facility. If your vet can provide any other positive personal information, it will also benefit you and your dog.

Pet sitter

A reference from your pet sitter is mostly for your dog. However, the pet sitter can also say that you’re responsible for having a pet sitter and not leaving your dog unattended for hours or days. Additionally, you’ll want the pet sitter to say how well-behaved your dog is whenever they are together.

Dog walker

A reference from your dog walker will be very similar to your pet sitter reference.

Dog trainer

A reference from your dog trainer is a great one to include with your letter. You’ll want this reference to talk about how well-behaved your dog is and how your dog gets along well with other dogs and humans. Additionally, your dog trainer can talk about any special training your dog has received.

Current neighbors

These are great references to obtain for a future landlord. Your current neighbors can state what a respectful neighbor you are and how your dog hasn’t been an issue in the neighborhood.

Note: With the references where you exchange money, such as vet, pet sitter, dog walker, doggie daycare, and dog trainer, you can also request their letters include how responsible you are for paying your bills in full and on time. Your potential landlord will appreciate this as well. 

How do I mediate any concerns for my potential landlord with a “no pets policy”? 

This is when you’ll really want to sit with your future landlord’s hat on and try to remove any roadblocks which may popup. Again, you can write a letter along with your tenant application and references (and provide photos as you see necessary).

Some easy ways to remove roadblocks for your potential landlord will include the following:

Is your dog up-to-date on vaccinations?

Provide proof with copies of those vaccines, and make sure it includes your dog’s latest rabies vaccine. This is important from a liability standpoint.

How often do you take your dog to the vet?

You’re trying to establish that you’re a responsible pet owner. So, you’ll want to say something like you take your dog twice yearly for checkups and then any other time during the year that something pops up requiring your vet’s attention. Additionally, you can even say you talk with your vet whenever you’re concerned about issues with your dog. This will go to your responsible pet owner statement.

What do you do with your dog when you’re gone for an extended period of time?

With this, you want to reassure the landlord that your dog won’t become a nuisance, liability, or cause damage to his or her property. Thus, you’ll want to say, you take your dog to work, or you generally use XYZ doggie daycare or leave fido with a friend when you’re gone for any amount of time. You could also say that your dog will stay with X friend or family or be boarded at ABC kennel when you’re out of town.

How does your dog sleep at night?

The landlord doesn’t want to deal with calls of a dog barking or scratching at night. You’ll want to show you’re a responsible pet owner and your dog is a good night sleeper (or at least quiet at night). You could even enclose a photo of your dog sleeping at night. Perhaps your dog sleeps in a kennel, quietly in a bed, or whatever, but it’s quiet.

How does your dog greet you? 

Once again, your landlord won’t want to field calls about a loud barking dog, especially if you come home from dinner at 10 pm. Therefore, you may want to explain some game you play or how your dog likes to bounce but doesn’t bark when you arrive home. If your dog rarely barks, then you will definitely want to highlight that for your potential landlord.

For instance, Henry rarely barks, but he does on occasion. One of those rare times was when someone tried to break into my home. This is a great asset for a landlord.

When was your dog potty trained? Or better yet, how does your dog ask to go outside?

If your dog is a rescue, you may not know when he or she was potty trained. But you can describe what your dog does to express a need to go outside. This lets the landlord know your dog is potty trained and you’re responsive to your dog’s needs. For example, Henry does this cute little backup hop.

How often do you exercise your dog?

If your dog only stays at home, with little to no exercise, it could be a red flag to a landlord. It may mean that your dog could get bored and seek to entertain him or herself, which could mean damage to their property.

Thus, you’ll want to say something like you walk your dog twice a day and then play three times a day. However, make sure what you tell your potential landlord is accurate for you and your dog. Basically, never lie. It would be as bad as lying to a potential employer. Just don’t do it. 

Is your dog friendly? 

This is strictly about liability. The landlord won’t want to hear that your dog is aggressive. Or that your dog has a history of biting or lunging at anyone or anything. If your dog has any special certifications, definitely include copies of them.

For instance, if your dog has the AKC Good Canine Citizen Award, make a copy and provide it to the landlord. Or if your dog is trained in therapy, provide a copy of the completion of that training.

Again, it would be great to include a letter from your trainer about how well-behaved your dog is with other dogs and humans. This would really help to calm anxiety over liability issues.

Does your dog like to dig?

With this question, you’re letting the landlord know that your dog won’t cause damage to the yard. If your dog does like to dig, that’s ok. Just provide what you’ve done to let your dog dig only where you desire. Maybe you take your dog on hikes and let him dig. Or perhaps you have a digging zone at a friend’s home. You could even say you take your dog to doggie daycare, where they have a digging zone. Additionally, note how you keep your eyes on your dog and you keep your dog well exercised with brain game toys. Or whatever you do so that your dog won’t do any damage to the landlord’s yard.

Does your dog have separation anxiety?

Don’t lie on this one. It’s okay if your dog does have separation anxiety or is considered an anxious pet. The key is to provide details of how you’ve addressed the issue. Maybe you take your dog to a friend’s home or you’ve given your dog some kind of medication. Basically, your potential landlord just doesn’t want to deal with damage caused by a dog in a panic attack or field calls from neighbors dealing with a barking dog.

Is your dog trained?

If you’ve taken dog training classes and your dog has passed them successfully, then provide those certificates. This will put your future landlord’s mind at ease that your dog will not misbehave. Or at the very least your landlord will feel comfortable with your dog being potty trained. Again, ask your dog trainer for a reference. Remember it’s critical to have the reference include how well your dog gets along with other dogs (or animals) and humans.

NOTE: Of course, we all know even the best-trained dog can have a bad day and misbehave or have an accident. That’s why it’s also important to get renter’s insurance and double down on showing you’re a responsible pet owner. 

Pet deposit

If you are asking a potential landlord to make an exception or exemption to a no pets allowed policy, you can help ease this discomfort by offering to pay an additional one-time pet deposit. Again, this will let the landlord know that you are responsible and will to work put their worries at ease.

Renter’s insurance

Since you’re asking your potential landlord to make an exception to their no pet policy, provide them with comfort by getting renter’s insurance with pet coverage. This way you and your landlord will be covered if any damage should be caused by your dog.

NOTE: Not all dog breeds are covered by renter’s insurance, you’ll want to check that your dog or pet is covered before offering this option. 

What if my dog’s breed isn’t covered by renter’s insurance? 

Of course, this can happen. You may have the sweetest Husky or German Shepherd in the world, but it may also mean you might have trouble finding renter’s insurance to cover your dog.

Although, if your dog doesn’t have any history of aggression or biting, your insurance may charge a premium or exclude your dog from coverage. The worst case would be the insurance company would deny coverage all together.

However, there’s still a workaround, if you can at least get coverage without your dog. It won’t be as much as pet insurance coverage, but it is something. You’ll have to think of it as a pet health account. Basically, you’ll open a high-yield savings account strictly for your dog “just in case”. The yields are the same as a Health Savings Account. Tell your landlord that the account is there as a backup if you can’t get renter’s insurance with pet coverage.

Can a landlord suddenly change a pet policy? 

Generally, a lease won’t change until it expires. However, a landlord can try to make an addendum to it with an additional pet policy. Or by changing the current pet policy mid-lease. You’ll have to pay close attention. If this should happen, then institute these strategies immediately.

Are emotional support animals, service animals, and assistance animals included in pet policies? 

Here’s an interesting law angle. Emotional support animals, service animals, and assistance animals are not viewed as being “pets” in the eyes of the law. Thus, they are excluded from any lease concerning a “no pet” or “pet policy” clause.

Furthermore, the fair housing act states that no landlord may discriminate against anyone with disabilities. As such, these types of animals are considered within the means of a “reasonable accommodation” and a landlord MUST allow these animals on their property.

In other words, you can’t be evicted or denied housing due to an emotional support animal, service animal, or assistance animal. So if you have a seeing-eye service dog, you won’t be turned away from a rental property due to your dog, even if the dog is a German Shepherd.

NOTE: Although, you can certify many animals easily enough online as an “emotional support animal” it’s never encouraged to do this to try to “outsmart” your landlord. It will only sour your relationship. I would encourage you to try the other strategies listed in this article before even considering this option. 

What if I just sneak my dog into the rental property?

I know it’s tempting to break the rules when you have a great dog. Here’s a problem you could face when you sneak your unauthorized pet into a no pets allowed property, you be immediately evicted. If your dog is a companion animal and doesn’t fit into the service dog, emotional support animal, or even assistance animal, you and your dog may be on the street without notice. That wouldn’t be fun!

Even if you have a service dog, let your potential landlord know ahead of time. You don’t want to risk anything.

What if I’ve tried all these strategies and the landlord still won’t permit my dog with a no pets allowed policy? 

I’m not saying that these strategies are foolproof. Unfortunately, nothing in life is a guarantee. But I am encouraging you to fight for your family and try these strategies. Remember it’s very helpful to know the reasons behind why a landlord is saying no to your dog. Thus, you have a much stronger chance of getting an exemption or exception. Or turning that “no” into a “yes”.

However, if you don’t end up getting approval for your dog, then keep these tips in mind:

  • NEVER, EVER leave your dog behind at an abandoned home!
  • Ask a family member or friend to “foster” your dog for a few months until you can find pet-friendly housing. Additionally, offer to provide the food and other resources your dog will need in the meantime.
  • Last resort, take your dog to a “NO KILL” shelter. Nope, your dog won’t understand. Don’t even ask your dog. You wouldn’t understand either. But keep in mind that at least with a NO KILL shelter your dog will have a chance at a new home, with a new family.

NOTE: In some cases, you’ll be talking with a property manager and never directly talk with the property owner or landlord. However, you can still make your case with these strategies to the landlord. The fact is that even the property manager wants a responsible renter as the tenant because it makes their life easy as well. Of course, they will have to get approval for pet exemptions from the landlord. But it certainly can be done when your case is stated in a compelling way.

Related articles:

Summary of tips to move with your dog even with a “no pets policy”

You might be excited, scared, and sad to be moving. But don’t forget that moving means moving with your entire family, including your dog and pets. Don’t let barriers like someone saying “no pets allowed” stop you. By showing a landlord your dog isn’t an issue and putting concerns to rest, you can change that no to an exception.

Finally, here’s one last thought my mom used to always tell me…”the worst they will say is ‘no'” Heck, I’ve heard “no” so many times in my life I can fill a dictionary. I bet you’re the same. It’s time to figure out why you get a no and change it. Your furry friend is depending on you. I’m certain you can do it. Your dog knows it too. Actually, your dog deserves it and so do you.

bulldog looking through window of a no pets policy rental

Have you moved with your dog only to be hit with endless “no pets policy” rental properties? What have you done to remedy the situation? Would you do anything differently now? 


10 thoughts on “Tips To Move A Dog With A “No Pets Policy””

  1. Great post and I was turned down from an apartment I really wanted because the owner said no, whatever I offered did not work, but would not give up Layla because of a place to rent, I took something less inviting as such but the building is big time pet friendly and that is all that counts.

    • I’m so glad you were able to find a pet-friendly building for you and Layla. I totally agree that a less comfortable place is more desirable as long as my furry family is with me.

  2. A great and positive post. Well done! I hope your post gives hope to pet owners. Make sure you schedule lots of shares.

    • Thanks, Marjorie! My hope is to give pet parents who don’t think they have options, several options to keep their furry family with them. I can’t imagine that decision. Well, I just couldn’t do it.

  3. This post should help people persuade landlords/managers to allow pets. Pets are family! However, I know sometimes it is impossible to take them with you, so I love that you reminded people to surrender pets to a no-kill shelter. One of our dogs was surrendered at least twice, and I’m so grateful that they loved him enough to give him another chance at a forever home.

    • Yes, I know that sometimes people are put in horrific spots, which I can’t even imagine. But I do want pet parents to also remember that when they are making those decisions to still do it which is a future for their furry family. It’s definitely a heartbreaking decision.

  4. Excellent post! I recently moved after 30 years in my family home where my five Huskies grew up and had quite literally a Husky Haven we built for them – and when we sold our home and moved, there was no question my dogs were going with me. I know there are all kinds of circumstances, but I will never be able to get the dumping them when someone moves. By the time we moved in the new house, all of mine were seniors and sadly three had passed, but my remaining two seniors came…and while it was a bit stressful for them and us as it was all new and still under construction…we were together. And together we worked through it. <3. I think you outline some very important points here, and good suggestions for those who just cannot keep their dogs. A relative to foster is a terrific solution, and if none, a reputable breed rescue. For me, I could never go where my dogs can't…it would just break my heart to even think about leaving a member of my family behind. I will be sharing this post!

    • Yes, I like the idea of fostering your fur family with a friend or family member temporarily, especially if you have to move quickly. I wouldn’t be able to move without my Henry either. But, I know other people wear different shoes. The point of this article is to just give people positive options and hopefully keep all their furry family together.

      Thank you for the continued support!

  5. I would never move if I had to leave my dog behind. We always made sure we found a place our dogs could move with us–no dogs, no chance of us moving in. I imagine it might get trickier in larger cities–but even in Toronto we were able to find a place where we could have our dog, even close by to area we could walk her.

    • I imagine it is tricker in bigger cities as well. Although, I’ve heard of a lot of landlords refusing pets in my area as well, which is not a big city. So, it can be more subjective by the landlord. It will be up to the pet parent to positively state their case to their potential landlord. Hopefully this article will give pet parents inspiration.

      I’m really glad to hear you have a great new home where you can walk your dogs. Sounds like a great score of a home!


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