As the weather gets warmer, apartment tenants are venturing outside to enjoy the weather. If you look around your apartment complex you may see kids on bikes, joggers on sidewalks and people basking in the sunshine on patios and porches. You may also see many people taking the time to stretch their legs, as well as those of their four-legged furry friends – otherwise known as dogs.
Owning a dog and renting an apartment at the same time can sometimes be challenging. Besides having to find a pet-friendly pad, you will find that many apartments have limited room indoors and don't provide an area outdoors where dogs can run and play. When you combine that with the additional costs, deposits and rules that coincide with having a pet in an apartment, pet ownership while renting can be a lot of work in a limited space. That's why warm weather brings the renters with pets outdoors, where there is room to exercise, stretch and play.
Although this is a great time for both dog and owner, it can be risky and lead to trouble if owners haven't properly trained their pets on how to behave around other people and dogs.
Annually, hundreds of thousands of people across the country are injured by dogs, mostly due to irresponsible dog owners. For example, a friend of mine recently took her two small dogs for a walk around her apartment complex only to be charged by a running, barking unleashed dog that was three times the size of her little pups. She had to yell and drag her dogs by their collars to get them away from the large barking dog, whose owner had let it outside unattended.
Unfortunately dogs don't come with owner's manuals, so it's up to all dog-owning renters to educate themselves on how to keep everyone safe from bites, fights and other harm. Here are some tips:
- Don't allow your dog to roam the grounds of your apartment complex unleashed and unsupervised.
- Make sure your dog has a snug-fitting collar and identification with your contact information.
- On really hot days, walk your dog in the early morning or at sundown when the heat of the day is not so intense. If you have to walk during the day, keep walks short and try to stay in the shade and on grass if possible.
- Leave dog treats and toys at home when heading out for a walk. They present an opportunity for dogs to engage in guarding, stealing and aggressive behavior.
- Pick up after your dog. Take a plastic bag or two with you when heading out for a walk.
- Before petting someone else's dog, ask the owner for permission, and then always let the dog sniff the back of your hand first.
- If an unattended or unleashed dog approaches you, stand still and keep quiet. Keep your arms close to your body and tuck your fingertips under your armpits. If you feel threatened, remain calm and face the dog, but do not look directly into the dog's eyes. Slowly back out of the area.
- Don't run from a dog that is chasing you. A dog‘s natural instinct is to chase and catch something running away.
- Parents should teach children the correct way to interact with dogs, and children under the age of 7 should not be left unsupervised with a dog.
- Educate yourself on the body language of dogs, and observe dogs you may see around your apartment.
These are just a few things you can do to keep people and pets safe. Pets are an important part of our community; when their feelings are respected, everyone benefits.
Let me know what you think. Are there a lot of dogs in your apartment complex? Do you have a dog in a small apartment? I welcome your suggestions on making a decision, tales from your personal experiences or anything else you want to talk about.
By Melissa Dubravetz, Akron Beacon Journal
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