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Pet friendly: Apartment living goes to the dogs (and cats)

When you're in the market for a new place to live, finding just the right apartment can often be a grueling ordeal. Finding an apartment that welcomes a pet—especially a dog—is almost impossible. Until recently, most property owners banned pets because of the risk of stained carpets, scratched doors and floors, and noise issues. But, finally, apartment developers are slowly seeing the advantages of accommodating pets as a way to attract and retain clients.

Cats are generally more compatible with urban and apartment living, since they tend to be more solitary and easily left alone for longer periods of time. But until recently, the needs of dogs were harder to accommodate.

Anne Rosen, co-owner of Avenue 8 Mayfair Apartments in Denver, Colorado, says she and her partner set out to design a dog-friendly living opportunity. 

“Over 50 percent of our current residents have pets," Rosen said. "In addition to human amenities, such as gyms and yoga studios, Avenue 8 has an on-site canine concierge, an indoor Bark Park complete with an agility course, and specialized floor mats. We also have two stainless steel dog wash basins and an outdoor private park."

Dog trainer Gavin Ehringer, who lives at Avenue 8, offers training classes, a walking service, and schedules onsite veterinary and professional grooming visits.

"Apartment living with a dog can work provided the owner is willing to understand and take responsibility for the dog's real needs," he said. "Dogs are social animals, so it can be stressful for them to live in a small apartment with their people gone all day. We often see separation anxiety in dogs left alone for too long."

For example, one resident’s neighbors complained that whenever he was gone, his newly-adopted dog barked all day. Being onsite, Gavin was able to work with the dog and quickly discovered the pup was considerably less anxious if music was left playing during the resident’s absences.

"We all know dogs need exercise and engagement—anything that provides mental stimulation," Ehringer said. He encourages owners who do not have the time to interact with their dog regularly to hire a trainer, pet sitter, or dog walker.

“With websites like rover.com, it’s easier than ever,” he said. “This is true for anyone with a dog, whether in an urban, suburban, or rural setting.”

In the end, pet-friendly apartment living works best when the animals' needs are met, which is made easier with onsite facilities.

"I use the dog parks here far more than any of the other facilities, like the gym," said Avenue 8 resident, Sara, scratching her dog Millie's ears. "I just moved here from out of state and I've gotten to know my neighbors just from spending time with my dog. She's really helped me meet people."

This new face of pet-friendly urban living may provide a competitive advantage to property owners, but more importantly, our pets help develop connections and encourage a stronger sense of community. But then, we already knew that.

Kathy Murphey's regular visits to the dog park with her dog, Chloe, have resulted in new friends and social "yappy hours" for them both.

iStock.com/Glenn Nagel

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