The Flatmates guide to getting a share house pet

Flatmates Team

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Ah, the joys of pet ownership. The cuddles! The snuggles! The cuteness overload! Until comes the annoying af couch scratching, chewing and fur overload. Before you take the plunge into pet ownership in your share house, read our guide below.

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Whether your pet is a poodle or a python, it deserves to have a great life. And so do your flatmates. So, what’s involved in creating share house bliss with a pet in the mix? This quick guide explains.

1. Is it allowed?

The first step to getting a pet for your share house is to ask your flatmates what they think of the idea. Don’t go making plans until you’ve spoken to them, and gotten their blessing.

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Once you know your flatmates are okay with it, check with your local council to make sure the pet you’re dreaming of is allowed in your area. While you’re researching, find out what, if any, responsibilities you’ll need to meet (e.g. pet registration or licensing, housing, desexing and so on), and understand the costs associated with them.

Finally, it’s time to find out whether your landlord will allow pets. Again, ask your property manager before you get too attached to the idea of having your own fur babies. Some states’ laws basically prevent landlords from denying pets unless they have good reason, while others leave the decision entirely up to the landlord. Know your rights — and how far you’re prepared to go to get a new, non-human flatmate.

2. Allergy check

As part of the “can we get a pet?” conversation with your flatmates, ask if they have any allergies that would be bothered by an animal.

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No one wants to live with permanent hayfever or hives. Take the time to make sure that your flatmates are comfortable with adding a pet to the share house, physically as well as philosophically, before you dive into pet parenthood.

3. Set some ground rules

Will your pet come indoors or live entirely outside? Where will it be fed? Is it allowed on the furniture? Can your flatmates give it leftovers and food scraps? These kinds of questions need to be answered before you embark on getting a pet, so that the adoption and settling in process goes smoothly — and to keep the peace with your flatties.

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Of course, the ground rules may need to change over time, as the pet gets to know your household, and you all get to know it. So be prepared to revisit these rules as required, and be flexible in making the arrangement work for all involved.

4. Make space

Next, you’ll need to work out where the animal will sleep.

Even the tiniest Chihuahua is likely to need an out-of-the-way spot to itself where it can feel safe to curl up for a nap. Don’t pretend your pet will simply sleep on the end of your bed — it could become a nuisance to you or your flatmates if it doesn’t have a little space of its own.

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When it comes to reptiles, rabbits, birds and so on, you really need to make sure you have enough room to dedicate to their housing, food, bedding and exercise if you’re going to keep them happy, healthy, and undisturbed in your share house.

Of course, whatever the animal, you’ll also need to make sure you can safely secure it within your home, since escapee pets can cause serious problems and cost you money for retrieval from the pound.

5. Keep it clean

Clean up after your pet. Your flatmates deserve a clean living space (including the yard), and so does the animal you’re giving a home to. It’s crucial that you clean up after your pet on the daily.

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That means changing and bagging soiled litter or bedding, pooper scooping and securing all waste so that it doesn’t attract ants, vermin or other pests, or create a mess of its own. Keeping your pet’s cage, tank or bed clean is also important for the same reasons.

But there’s another justification for keeping things clean — including the animal itself — and that’s health. The only thing worse than a dirty, smelly dog or cat is one that’s spreading fleas around your share house. A happy, healthy and clean pet is more likely to be loved by your flatmates. We promise.

6. Stretch those legs

Exercise is important whether your pet is a dog, cat, bird or reptile. Make sure you understand your animal’s particular exercise needs, then meet them. Otherwise, your pet’s likely to go a little stir crazy, which can have dire implications for your household (think: chewed shoes, ripped curtains, escape artistry, a backyard dotted with holes… you get the idea).

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Regular exercise is essential for most of us if we’re to keep a level head, sleep well, and not annoy others, and that applies to animals too. Consider toys or puzzles to keep your pet entertained when you’re not home and make a priority of sticking to their exercise regime each day.

7. Office mates

You may love holding Zoom meetings to the unbroken rhythm of your puppy’s snores, but your flatmates might find the idea less appealing.

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If others in your household work from home, make sure you understand their preferences and expectations around having your pet in their workspace. If you’re home as well, then it might be fairly easy to manage your pet’s intrusion into their workday, but if not, you’ll likely need to make sure you can secure the pet safely, away from your flatmates’ work spaces.

8. Jump on it

When it comes to animals in your share house, it’s important to jump on issues as soon as they crop up. Maybe your pet is looking a little unwell. Or perhaps your flatmate mentioned that they’re sick of cat hair all over the couch. Whatever the problem, take action.

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Again, your flatmates and your pet all deserve to enjoy life in your share house, so if there’s an issue, address it. If a flatmate has a problem with your pet, come back to the ground rules you set, and see if they need tweaking. If there’s something wrong with your pet, make an appointment with the vet as soon as you can.

Hoping for pet-related problems to blow over rarely works, and could damage your relationship with your flatmates, your pet’s health and overall household harmony in the meantime. Believe us, it’s not worth it.

9. Take responsibility, always

While your flatmates may well love looking after your pet while you’re away for the occasional overnight stay, don’t make a habit of depending on them for pet care. As this guide has shown, a lot goes into keeping an animal, and a night away for you probably means someone else needs to feed, exercise and clean up after your pet — as well as tending to any other care needs they might have, like daily grooming.

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Always taking responsibility for your pet is the surest way to keep things sweet with your flatties, and keep your animal friend happy too! 

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Flatmates Team

support@flatmates.com.au

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