Prove Your Landlord Wrong: How to Pet-Proof Your Rental Home and Protect Your Furry Friend
Finding a landlord that allows pets isn’t always easy—but once you do, it’s a privilege you don’t want to risk losing. Of course, it’s important to maintain the unit and impress your landlord with your well-behaved pet to ensure you’ll be able to stay there as long as you want. Renting with a pet means slightly more work, but it also means you have a friendly companion to cuddle.
As a renter and pet owner, you need to pet-proof your rental to protect the property and keep your pet safe from harm, while proving to your landlord that they made the right choice in allowing pets.
Here are a few reasons why pet-proofing is essential:
- Even after paying pet rent and pet fees, your landlord can still deduct from your security deposit to cover property damages that your pet may cause. This applies to any pet deposits you might pay, too.
- Your pet will live in the rental 24/7. That means they’ll have plenty of time to roam around the house without supervision if they aren’t able to be placed in a cage or a kennel. Anything from loose wires to the corner of your coffee table pose a risk to their safety.
With both these on the line, ensuring that your home is safe for your pet—and to protect your deposit—is key. It may feel overwhelming to know where to start, so we’ve outlined the things you can do to pet-proof every single room in your rental.
With these tips, it’s entirely paw-sible to make your life less ruff!
How to Pet-Proof Your Home
Remember the movie The Secret Life of Pets? Things went wild as soon as the humans left.
The bird practiced his aviation skills against the TV and the cat ate the turkey. Even worse, the dogs slammed themselves on large pane windows to catch a bird, used the kitchen mixer as a massager, and turned the rock music up to full volume. Noise complaints, anyone?
Luckily, you don’t live in a cartoon film, so your pet won’t behave in quite the same way (we hope). Still, they’ll undoubtedly cause accidents and damage your home and furniture eventually. So, to keep them under control when you’re not around, here are some tips to get started:
Tips for Pet-Proofing the Living Room
Of course, some of these will apply to the entire home, but here’s how to pet-proof your living room:
- Close all windows and doors. Fresh air and a cool breeze are great, but your pet will get distracted and tempted by the outside world. So, when you leave home, close your windows and doors to prevent them from leaping after a bird, going after a squirrel, and getting lost away from home.
And we mean the whole window. Don’t leave them open with a screen on windows and doors. If your cat or dog really wants to get out, they could tear the screen down, causing damage and making your life more difficult.
- Cover all outlets and secure electric cords. You don’t want your pet to get electrocuted! You also don’t want to ruin the electric system of the rental—something expensive to replace and fix.
The best course of action is to use plastic covers on top of your outlets. That way, your furry ones can’t stick their paws or snouts into them. You can also use duct tape to keep dangerous cords from getting chewed on.
- Set boundaries with baby gates or a playpen. If your pet is curious and likes to roam around, set some physical boundaries. Doing that prevents them from running off to explore other rooms.
- Only allow pet-friendly materials. If your pet is young or teething, they will probably scratch and shred toilet paper, couches, pillows, and wooden furniture. Instead, opt for fabrics that won’t tear too easily (e.g., pleather, tight-weave canvas, microfiber, or denim), and choose tables and chairs with metal legs.
If your rental already comes with some furniture, use anti-scratch tapes to discourage scratching.
- Give them toys. You can’t always stop pets from nibbling on things. Ensure that they have to chew toys and scratch posts to keep them busy. It’ll keep them from clawing on door frames and sinking their teeth into the furniture and your fancy shoes.
- Invest in potty pads. If your dog isn’t 100% house-trained (and we mean one hundred percent), buy pee pads to place near the exits, and train your dog how to use them. That way, if they have an accident while you’re away, or you are unexpectedly detained somewhere, you don’t cause any damage to the floors that could eat into your security deposit later on (and leave an unpleasant odor behind, too).
Tips for Pet-Proofing the Kitchen
Ah, food. It tempts us just as much as it does our pets. No matter how careful you are with keeping things clean after cooking, it’s likely that your pet will still sniff something and hunt for food after your meals.
Here’s how to pet-proof your kitchen:
- Lock away trash bins and recycling cans. Use bins with covers or locks. The idea here is to make it difficult to open for your pets. This is important, as your bins will have all sorts of food scraps for your pet to rummage through, and they might ingest harmful food wrappers and other things that are toxic to them, but safe to humans.
- Close and secure kitchen cabinets. You can use childproof locks to keep the smartest of pets from opening cabinets and gaining access to sharp utensils. It also stops them from tearing the doors open out of curiosity—damaging the built-in cabinets your rental came with.
Moreover, keep all dangerous appliances inside the cabinets—not on countertops.
- Put up a stove guard. If your pet is a jumper (cats usually are), install the type of stove guard or shield that prevents them from landing on hot surfaces. This will also stop them from turning the burners on accidentally and causing a fire while you’re away.
- Store cleaning supplies appropriately. You’ll likely have cleaning supplies under the sink. Instead of putting them there where your pet can reach, put all toxic materials on a high shelf or store them in secured bins under the sink. Also, put away twisty ties, bread clips, and sponges that will also be harmful when ingested.
Tips for Pet-Proofing the Bathroom
Bathrooms might seem like a place your pet can’t wreak havoc, but they definitely can. Small pets can end up in toilet bowls and drown if the lid is left open. Cats and dogs might also ingest any medicine, soaps, or bathroom cleaners they find if it’s within reach.
To avoid any accidents, pet-proof your bathroom this way:
- Hideaway medication, personal care products, and cleaning supplies. While they’re heaven-sent for you, they’re poisonous substances for your pets. Store them on high shelves or lock them away in a cabinet where your pets can’t reach them.
- Always close the toilet lid. Toilet water will undoubtedly have bacteria and even remnants from your cleaning supplies. Close them and even find some way to lock them—especially if your pet acquires a taste for potty water.
For cats, you can purchase small water fountains instead, which mimic the natural flowing water they prefer. Plus, they can dip their paws in it instead of your toilet. Much more hygienic!
- Remove any dangerous items. Bathrooms will have razors, tweezers, and other similar sharp items that your pets could want to play with. These can seriously injure them, even if they just sit on a razor (and not necessarily eat it). Make sure to put them away after use.
Another reason to do all this is that most people will put litter boxes or pee pads in their bathrooms where there’s low foot traffic. If you’re a pet parent that does the same thing, pet-proofing your bathroom is even more important because your pets will certainly visit it several times a day.
Tips for Pet-Proofing the Yard
Although most people will keep their pets indoors when they’re away, some of you might want to allow your pet to roam around the backyard. Whichever type of pet parent you are, these are some good tips to pet-proof any open, outdoor spaces of your home:
- Put up a wireless invisible pet fence. Once upon a time, you had to dig an actual wire around the perimeter of your property to have an electric fence. But nowadays, you can get a wireless pet fence with a base unit that uses a remote signal, rather than having to spend a fortune on installing an electric fence.
- Block any access to a swimming pool or small pond. Even if your pets can swim, having them jump into bodies of water unsupervised is an accident waiting to happen. If your rental has a pool or pond, install a fence or use a cover to keep them away when nobody’s around.
- Remove poisonous plants. Plants are tasty-looking salads for most pets! Avoid any of these toxic plants to keep your pet safe: azalea, autumn crocus, amaryllis, cyclamen, daffodil, hyacinth, kalanchoe, lilies, oleander, sago palm, and tulips.
- Store any rat poisons, garden pesticides, and pool chemicals. Our homes have so many cleaning supplies and toxic substances, it’s easy to lose track of it all. Keep any harmful and poisonous materials locked in a cabinet or shed.
- Use digging deterrents. Allowing your pet to dig around the yard will not please the landlord. It not only ruins the landscape but also disturbs the quality of the soil. Try using natural digging deterrents, like vinegar and orange peels, to discourage any digging activities.
- Exercise your pet! It’s also important to make sure your pet is getting enough stimulation (like toys and playtime) and exercise to limit their desire for destructive activities. Don’t keep them cooped up in your yard and home all day and expect them not to cause any problems! How would you feel being kept on the same plot all day, every day?
Plan to Prevent Pet Accidents in Your Home
Yes, it is a lot of work to pet-proof your rental property, the key is to be proactive and prevent it from happening.
Think about your pets like little toddlers. We can teach them to behave and they can have the best manners, but they’ll certainly have some chaotic moments when left unsupervised. So, whatever the personality of your pet, it’s always a good idea to pet-proof your home for peace of mind.
Once you have everything installed, things will be easier for you, your pet, and your landlord.
As they say, it’s better to be proactive than reactive—especially when there is a hefty deposit and the safety of your furry friend on the line.
Do you have other tips for pet-parent renters out there? What did we miss?