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The search for an apartment rental can be time-consuming and stressful on its own, but add a large dog into the mix, and the hunt for the perfect place just became 10 times harder.

While it’s not impossible to find a landlord who is pet friendly, it is important to know upfront if there are specific weight and breed restrictions for properties you’re interested in. Owning a large dog will certainly narrow your choices, but asking the right questions from the start will keep you from wasting your time.

When it comes to larger size breeds, there are certain stigmas attached. Property owners worry about things such as potential damage, barking, and how well the dog gets along with others. It’s important to show landlords that you are a responsible dog owner. Putting his or her mind at ease could possibly turn a potential “no” into a “yes.”

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There are certain things to take into consideration when conducting your search. Being proactive can work in your favor when it comes to securing a rental, so here are some tips to help you and your not-so-pint-sized pooch find a place to call home.

Be honest and discuss your dog with your prospective landlord. Hiding your dog isn’t going to be easy, especially one that’s large. The best approach is to be upfront from the beginning of your conversation. Share information, such as whether your dog is spayed or neutered, if he or she is housebroken, trained, and socialized, and any other positive traits that will score you some points.

Be flexible. You might have your sights set on a particular home or apartment building, or even a specific neighborhood, but renting with a pet means widening your options and accepting that you might not be able to move into the place of your dreams. The search will most likely take longer than anticipated, so give yourself extra time to find the right rental.

Sweeten the offer. To show a potential landlord you are serious about staying, offer to sign a longer lease (if one is required). A worry for landlords, says Evan Roberts, co-founder of Dependable Homebuyers in Columbia, Md., is the wear and tear from large dogs. “A longer lease eases their concern by reducing their turnover,” he shares. Most rentals require a security deposit, and for those renting with a dog the amount might be higher, depending on the landlord or rental agency. 

Gather pet-related documents and references. Documents such as vaccination records, obedience training certificates, referrals from current or previous landlords and your veterinarian all vouching for your dog’s behavior can be a big help in convincing a potential landlord that your dog is a gentle giant. A great way to present all of the information is by creating a resume for your dog. 

Another approach is to bring your lovable pup to meet the landlord. Miranda Benson, the marketing coordinator at Dolly, is also a renter who has struggled in the past to find an apartment that would allow her canine companion. She finds it often comes down to a dog’s temperament more than his size. “You need to show the landlord that your dog is harmless and friendly,” she says.

If a meet-and-greet isn’t possible, you can always write a heartfelt letter explaining why you love the place, some background information on your dog, and a cute photo. It’s not easy to look an adorable dog in the eye and say “no”!

Consider working with a real estate agent. One of the benefits to using an agent is that they are familiar with the requirements apartment buildings impose and can weed through the ones most suited to your situation. Agents also have access to the Multiple Listing Services (MLS) system, another helpful tool when it comes to searching for a place to live. “By using search parameters via the MLS, we can locate properties that accept large dogs,” says Jerry Grodesky, a real estate broker with Farm and Lake House Real Estate in Illinois. 

An alternative to an apartment building is a place owned by a private landlord. Real estate agents can connect you with individuals looking to rent out their property, and they have a better chance of convincing a homeowner to consider renting to a potential tenant with a dog than a building complex manager because of the rules imposed on buildings. “We find that most property management companies shy away from the liability of a large dog,” says Roberts. “But we find that most small landlords are open to pet renters.”

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