What to Do When Roommate Expects You to Take Care of Their Dog

If your roommate expects you to take care of her dog, this article has the best 19 solutions. to solve the problem.

There are lots of proven methods and people who have tried them because so many people have been in your situation. I also did lots of online research and things I have tried myself.

The dog belongs to your roommate, so it’s your roommate’s responsibility. You wouldn’t look after their car that you don’t use. Have it in writing that if you help look after it and something goes wrong, you’re not responsible.

If the dog is neglected if you don’t look after it, the authorities need to know.

The recommendations below are divided into five stages:

1. Show your roommate why she is being unreasonable.
2. Negotiate a compromise.
3. Take action if your roommate is neglecting the dog.
4. Get another roommate.
5. Move out yourself.

So, let’s dive in.

If your roommate has unrealistic expectations, these are all arguments you can use to show them what happens in the real world. They come with examples that your roommate cannot sensibly say are not true.

1. It’s your roommate’s dog and choice to have it, so it’s their responsibility

If your roommate has a child, then it’s their responsibility to look after it. Having something comes with responsibility. If someone does not look after their child, Child Protective Services says the child should go to another family who wants to.

If your roommate has a car, then it would also be their responsibility to look after it.

These examples are to show that having something leads to responsibility.

2. Is your roommate going to pay you for your dog care services?

paid to walk dogs

People who look after dogs and walk them charge money.

Is your roommate going to pay you for looking after their dog, especially if they expect you to do the more time-consuming things like taking them for walks?

Does your roommate do things for you, that people usually charge money for doing?

Do they do your dishes, make your bed and so on?

3. Be careful of being made responsible for the dog

Imagine you are taking the dog for a walk, and something goes wrong. Your roommate could hold you responsible.

If something goes wrong with feeding, the dog gets attacked by another dog or anything else unfortunate happens; it could be seen as your fault. Could your roommate make you accountable for the vet’s bill, and so on?

Even if you are helping out of goodwill, if you cause a problem, your roommate may still expect you to make up for it, even if you were looking after their dog as a favor.

An article of advice for apartment renters cautions that usually, people think that the pet owner is responsible for everything to do with the pet!

However, they say that if you have agreed to help, “you need to be extremely clear about where your [responsibilities] end and your roommate’s begin…your roommate may assume that the two of you are in this together, sharing responsibilities as well as costs. It’s important to be clear about what you are willing to do and what you aren’t.”

4. Be careful of being legally responsible if the dog bites someone.

dog bite

If you are out and about, and your roommate’s dog bites someone, you could be legally responsible and sued for a lot of money.

Under Californian law, a professional dog walker can say the owner did not tell them the dog could bite someone, or has done it before. The “Veterinarians Rule” is there because a professional dog walker cannot be expected to take responsibility for things he or she did not know were there.

In Nevada, you are only liable if the dog has previously bitten someone before, or shown dangerous behavior.

However, these rules only protect professionals!

There is no history of the “Veterinarians Rule” being able to protect someone who was walking someone else’s dog as a favor, such as for a friend or neighbor. If the dog bites someone, the victim can sue you for a lot of money.

Your doing it because roommate expects you to take care of her dog, will not protect you.

So make sure your roommate’s dog is one you are happy to be associated with!

5. Time for a list

Make a list of all the chores associated with taking care of your roommate’s dog. Things like feeding, walking, grooming, brushing their teeth (didn’t think of that one, did you?!), vet visits, cleaning up messes, training, and paying for damage caused by dog-related accidents.

Then consider other responsibilities such as: if the dog bites someone while you are walking it or when someone is visiting you, and your roommate is not home, who is responsible?

Next to each item on your list, write down how often you are willing to do it. Several times a day? Once a day? Twice a week? Once a month? Etc.

Help or not?

Are you willing to do anything? Don’t be afraid to say no truthfully. Being honest with ourselves is a great way to keep things real and effective.

If you are willing to help out, what are you willing to do and how often are you willing to do it? A list can help you.

6. Being a good roommate

Let’s take things step-by-step and assume that your roommate is NOT neglecting the dog. If it is neglect, what to do is written about later in this guide.

The situation needs to be that the dog will be fine without being dependent on you caring for it, as your roommate won’t.

Especially if the dog will be alive for longer than you will probably be roommates.

If you don’t pitch in, your roommate will look after the dog, but the situation between you and your roommate is not going to be good at all…like really bad…like terrible.

For many roommates, feeding the dog and taking it for occasional walks is being a good roommate. You help your roommate, and she helps you.

It’s good to be friendly and create a good, supportive living situation, especially as the dog becomes part of your ‘roommate family’. Also if your roommate cares about their dog and you are good to it, you are building up points that you can use for your roommate to help you with other things you need.

Hopefully, your roommate also helps you in other ways that aren’t about the dog.

If your roommate is more take than give, then it may all come down to you negotiating.

Also if you want to spend time with the dog, maybe you should also spend time doing some of the chores as well. If you don’t spend time enjoying playing with the dog, then you may feel you do not need to help look after it.

7. Negotiate with your roommate

Now that you have decided what you are and are not willing to do, you need to tell your roommate how you feel and reach an agreement. Negotiations are usually difficult, but there are tips and tricks to make things go as smoothly as possible.

Ohio State University advises its students as follows:

• Keep the conversation honest and polite—Just like NBA players get fouled for hitting below the belt, negotiation language should be as authentic and civil as possible. We can say we are ‘very angry; feel used or tricked”…that “we don’t think it is our responsibility to take care of a dog that our roommate bought on their own.” Places we should not go to are talking about her ‘stupid decision; disgusting attitude” or “who does she think she is anyway.”

• Know when to pick your battles—Pouncing on your roommate when she has just walked in from a tough day at work is not going to work so well for you. Getting into it when you are tired or stressed is not the best decision. Choose a time when both of you are rested and calm. Perhaps sit down for a cup of coffee/tea/juice when neither of you are counting the minutes because you have something important coming up soon.

• Respect different views and compromise—Usually, each person in a conflict feels that their point of view is the right one. Instead of spending time and energy convincing your roommate that it is wrong of her to expect you to take care of her dog, work toward a compromise, a ‘meeting in the middle’ so to speak.

• Know how to create change—Someone has got to step up in difficult situations. Let it be you. OK, so you and your roommate won’t be besties. Having a caring and respectful relationship is often much more useful between roommates. Try not to focus on her bad points. Instead, focus on how YOU can be a good roommate.

The University of Kentucky has organized their advice as the acronym LARA.
Listen and keep eye contact.
Acknowledge: Repeat their statements back to them.
Respond: Address their concerns.
Add important points that haven’t been raised (e.g., a mutually agreed-upon solution).

(source: University of Kentucky)

8. If you don’t look after the dog, your roommate will neglect it


Will the dog will be neglected by your roommate if you don’t help? If so, you probably need to report the situation to the authorities.

There’s a saying ‘A dog is for life and not just for Christmas.’

People often get a dog, thinking it will be a lovely Christmas present, but a dog is a responsibility for all of its life…and a big responsibility at that.

Taking it for walks and all the other duties take time and energy. Large dogs live for around 8 years, and small dogs live for double that. Looking after a dog is a long-term commitment, probably longer than you will be sharing a place with your roommate for, and so around to look after their dog

If your roommate has gotten tired of her dog and looking after it, maybe this is why she has turned to you for help.

Unfortunately, the norm with this situation is that dog owners don’t stop being disinteresting in their dogs or become interested in it again for long periods. They may get interested for a short while and so look after their dog properly, but it doesn’t last.

Think your roommate is not only not taking care of her dog but is abusing it? You need to act. Organizations who can help are your local police, ASPCA branch, Humane Society, or PETA.

If you can safely video evidence (like with your mobile phone), do so. It is a big deal―animal cruelty is a Class A felony according to the FBI (up there with homicide and arson).

If it’s hard to find the contact information for these organizations or you feel it is an emergency? Just dial 9-1-1 and have them step in.

Remember though that your roommate is going to be angry with you for reporting her, so keep yourself safe.

9. You could be blamed and get in trouble with the authorities

If things go very badly wrong, you could be implicated or be seen as complicit because you lived there and didn’t do anything.

You are part of the household.

You have not reported it, the authorities could see you as being complicit.  It means that even if you didn’t neglect the dog, or help neglect it, you did nothing about it!

Also, your roommate could blame you for being involved with neglecting the dog, and you will probably not be able to prove that they’re lying.

So if your roommate is neglecting their dog, report it to the authorities quickly and don’t leave it.

10. If your roommate is not looking after her dog correctly, it could get fleas. Then you have a flea-infested apartment!

dog flea

Fleas are small, but they can create big problems. Roommates who have been in this situation say things like, “I wake up and have two or three bites on my legs. They’re large and red (about the tip of a pencil eraser).”

Another person said that “Fleas are my worst nightmare. The other day I saw one on my foot after going into the main hallway to do laundry, and I flipped out. It took my boyfriend a good hour and my panic-attack medication to calm me down.”

Dealing with fleas is expensive and time-consuming. Usually, people begin with flea powder on the carpet and vacuuming the entire house.

Most often, this is not enough, and the house needs to be bombed. This type of bomb is a chemical spray which can cause people and pets to become sick. All the doors in the house (room doors and closet/cupboard doors) need to be left open. All the contents need to be removed and stored somewhere the bomb chemicals can’t get them. The house will need to be empty for several hours while the bomb works. Then, everything needs to be cleaned. Fun? Not!

To help prevent your apartment from being infested with flees again, the pet will need a flea collar and/or flea medication.

Fleas are considered a health hazard. If your roommate is not fixing the situation and you are renting from a landlord, talk with him or her. The landlord can give your roommate a warning and ”fix it time”. If she does not comply, the landlord would be able to start eviction proceedings.

11. Dogs in your roommate agreement

Having a written roommate agreement is a good idea—a decent one will have a section for pets.

Are pets allowed? Which ones are permitted? What are roommates’ responsibilities with them and so on?

If you have a roommate agreement, it’s time to have a look at it.

If you don’t have one, then I recommend getting one now. It’s harder to negotiate these things once you have moved in as each of you has established habits you already have that each of you doesn’t want to give up.

It’s better to do it now instead of not doing it all, as it may prevent future problems. Roommate agreements cover all kinds of things, not just those to do with pets.

12. Be direct with your roommate

If your roommate has expectations, you will need to be direct and say that their expectations are not acceptable to you. Otherwise, your roommate will go along with their expectation of you taking care of their dog.

Do it soon and don’t leave it.

Your roommate is unlikely to change her view, and once you have been looking after her dog for a long time, for her having this from you will become a habit.

Then, she will see it as an entitlement which is even harder to change.

13. Say to your roommate you’re going to move out if they won’t look after their dog

If you have tried everything else and your roommate won’t change from expecting you to care of her dog, you could as a last attempt to try and make them change, say you are going to move out.

This is to push things to the edge, and see if your roommate will then change their ways.

Your roommate could feel so entitled that they will want to get a different roommate because they think they can easily get a different roommate who will take care of their dog.

14. Don’t jump to conclusions; taking care of your roommate’s dog might be a wonderful opportunity.

dog owner happy

You know…your roommate expecting you to take care of her dog might be just what you need.

“No other animal bonds to a human being the way a dog does.
And I suspect there is no other animal to which human beings
can bond the way we can bond to a dog.” Robert Crais

Reliable scientific data shows that carers of dogs enjoy significant health benefits. A commonly used phrase is ‘built-in exercise.’

Dogs need to be walked. So, without having to gather up too much motivation, you will be able to meet your daily exercise quota. Is this why the hearts of dog carers are stronger?

Heart benefits

Caring for a dog appears to lower the risk of cardiovascular problems. Also, the survival rates are higher for dog carers who do have heart attacks. Perhaps it is all that walking which tones up our cardiovascular systems and help keep our weight within healthy limits. Maybe it’s something else…like less stress.

An increased feeling of wellbeing

Recent statistics put the number of therapy dogs in the U.S. at more than 50,000. This is not just a trend or fad. It’s a technique which works. Dog therapy has data to back it up.

An article in the American Journal of Critical Care is just one example. The article reports on a study which found that “animal-assisted therapy improves cardiopulmonary pressures, epinephrine/norepinephrine levels (the ‘flight or fight’ hormones), and anxiety in patients.”

In other words, lower blood pressure, less stress, and reduced fearfulness—an increased sense of wellbeing.

These results appear to be accurate for hospital patients as well as clients at a therapist’s office.

You can read more about therapy dogs in this National Geographic article.

Improved social interactions

If your roommate expected you to take care of her dog and you agreed, you will quickly find out that dog walkers chat with other dog walkers. That’s the way it is.

People who do not know each other take the time to stop and compare notes. And since people usually walk their dogs along the same routes at the same times in the same neighborhoods, over time, these encounters often develop into friendships.

It’s even more so at the dog parks. While the dogs socialize, their carers do, too.

Letting your dog play for 20-30 minutes at the dog park gives you a lot of time to chat with this group of people who share at least one common interest—dogs. So, it’s easy to find a topic of conversation.

And these people are just THERE (usually at the same times and days)…no need for an app or swiping right and waiting for a reply.

For more information about how dogs improve human lives, check these articles out: Huffpost, Harvard.

15. So you can discuss and negotiate it with your roommate. Know all the work needed to look after a dog and the damage caused to it if they’re not done.

Once you know how much work it is to look after a dog properly, you can show your roommate that her expectations are ridiculous!

Also if they don’t look after the dog correctly, the dog will suffer from being neglected.

This information also will help show your roommate why it’s a big job, and usually, people are paid to do it, especially the dog walking part. If your roommate is not doing this stuff, it will also help you demonstrate and realize that they’re neglecting their dog.

It takes a lot of work to look after a dog, and the effects of not doing the job properly are serious.

Your roommate may have expected you to take care of her dog because it’s a lot of work, and she done wasn’t prepared for it. Many people don’t realize just how much time, and effort is needed to take good care of a dog.

Also, you have agreed to pitch in; you should do it right. Education is the key.

(By the way…I hate to say it, but don’t assume that your roommate knows how to take care of her dog, or the damage they’re causing it by not doing it correctly.

Many people who have dogs do not know how to care for them correctly and have not done the research. Especially the people who are too lazy to look after them properly in the first place.)

Key resources about dog care

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) is a great place to get the basics. Here is their article on General Dog Care.

For care of teeth, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) dental care guidelines tell you everything you need to know. Their website has a lot of other useful information also.

The dog’s vet is another excellent resource. Good vets take the time to answer questions and help educate pet owners. If you are taking the dog to the vet sometimes, you will be able to ask them yourself. If not, you can write down your question, and give it to your roommate.

Try and find out the dog’s breed, as it affects many parts of their care such as:

  • How much exercise they need and walking each day
  • Which health problems they are prone to and you need to look out for
  • How tolerant they are of when it’s hot or cold

Dog training

When your roommate expected you to take care of her dog, did she train it first? If the answer is yes, you are in luck. If not, you might want to invest in some training to make your ‘dogsitting’ easier.

Dog training needs to be done, so your dog behaves appropriately, and your roommate should pay for it! Unless you both agree it’s now your dog!

Here’s a link for those who like to read scientific articles on dog psychology.

The global learning center, Udemy offers a variety of dog training courses.

There will probably be a local dog training center or facility near you—it is suggested to have a trial, no obligation lesson with the dog and trainer or get a recommendation from a trusted source before paying for training.

16. Is it time for one of you move out?

Everything has it’s positives and negatives.

If you’re very upset about this situation, perhaps your roommate should Move out. Maybe YOU should move out.

Yes, it’s not fair nor the ideal situation. But do we want to live with people like these? In other words, roommates who expect their roommates to care for their dogs (or cats or fish or other pets) without you both agreeing before the pet arrives? That wasn’t fair either, was it?

Living with roommates can be such a great experience. Why sacrifice it by not having a great roommate? Having said that, there may be other positives from sharing a dog with your current roommate that you don’t want to lose.

Maybe there are other things you love about sharing with your roommate. You hang out together, watch movies, and a relationship like that is not always easy to find.

Everything is a compromise.

If you’re unsure, try chatting with friends as they may have fresh perspectives, or creating a list of positive and negatives points.

17. How to move out

What rental agreement/lease do you have?

Is it with a landlord, and are you a signatory on that agreement? If so, when does this agreement end?

Can you hang in there for that long? It would be great because then you won’t have the complications of breaking the lease.

Perhaps it’s just an informal sublet from your roommate. What does it say about if one of you wants to leave?

Giving notice

When we intend to break a lease, we first have to give notice. Standard notice on rental agreements is 30 days. Your notice should be given in writing.

You need some way of proving that you gave notice to the person who you should have and the date you did…just in case. It’s very tempting to do it verbally and trust the person you are giving notice too, but then you come to regret it later when they misbehave, and you have no proof that you gave the correct notice.

It’s a good idea to meet with your landlord or roommate and explain the situation. When people understand more about why you need to take extreme action (such as breaking a lease), it helps them to be flexible towards our needs. (If it is your roommate, perhaps it will convince him or her to makes changes so you won’t need to leave.)

18. If you can’t get out of the lease, find another roommate to replace you

Whether it is a formal lease or an informal sublet, you will need to find a roommate to replace you. You may need to help with the search, and this includes looking for prospective roommates and arranging to be home to show them around.

It is in your interest to help because you owe rent until the end of the agreement. The sooner an alternative roommate moves in, the less rent you will have to pay for a place you are not even living in.

More about the points above and other helpful information is in this article on The Mortgage Reports website.

19. The most popular recommendations on the internet

Know that you’re not alone (others have roommates who do stuff like this too) and that these things are always tricky.

I searched around the internet and found that people who expect their roommates to take care of their dogs is unfortunately quite a common situation.

I did loads of research, and these are the most popular suggestions on forums and chat rooms.

The advice is quite varied:

• You should confront your roommate and speak your truth.
• If you don’t take care of the animal, will it be neglected? If so, you need to call the animal welfare organization in your area. Animals don’t have a voice, so we have to speak up for them.
• Why all the complaints? It’s your roommate, right? Not some stranger on the street. Roommates should have their roommates’ backs.
• It’s a complicated issue, but you need to speak up.
• Dude, if it’s only a little bit of help, why are you so selfish?

You are not alone; this is a big issue and don’t feel you’re being petty if your roommate makes you feel like that!

Looking after a dog is a big deal, you care about the welfare of the dog.

It’s a large amount of work, cost and you need a lot of knowledge and experience to do it properly.

Writer: Lisa Aharon

lisa ahron writer


1, Apartment Ratings, How to Handle Your Roommate’s Pet

2, Ohio State University, 4 Ways to Resolve Roommate Conflict

3, NBA, Playoffs, Lowry gets hit below the belt

4, University of Kentucky, How to Handle 3 Common Roommate Problems

5, National Geographic, Therapy Dogs Work Miracles. But Do They Like Their Jobs?

6, American Journal of Critical Care, Animal-assisted therapy in patients hospitalized with heart failure.

7, Kiddle, Fight or flight response facts for kids

8, Therapy dogs in this National Geographic article

9, HuffPost, The 10 Health Benefits Of Dogs (And One Health Risk)

10, Harvard Health Publishing, Pets can help their humans create friendships, find social support.

11, ASPCA, General Dog Care

12, AAHA, Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats

13, Mark Plonsky, Ph.D., articles on Dog behavior

14, Udemy, Dog Training Courses

15, Harvard Health Publishing, Pets can help their humans create friendships, find social support

16, The Mortgage Reports,How to get out of a lease with a roommate

17, Vice News, The FBI Now Considers Animal Abuse a Class A Felony

18, Curl Talk, Help! My new roommate’s cat has fleas and I’m getting bit.

19, Reddit, Roommates cat has fleas and it’s giving me severe anxiety

20, Avvo, My roommates dog has had fleas for months, she isn’t doing anything about it. They have infested the house, can she be evicted??

21, Nature, Dog ownership and the risk of cardiovascular disease and death – a nationwide cohort study

22, Reddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/TwoXChromosomes/comments/3logry/my_roommate_doesnt_take_great_care_of_her_dog_and/

23, Giant in the Playground forums, http://www.giantitp.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-121606.html

24, Quora, If you move in together and one person has a dog, is taking care of the dog a chore like doing the laundry or the owner’s own responsibility, like a “hobby”?

25, City-Data, I think my roommate intends on using me for his benefit (apartment, period) Read more: http://www.city-data.com/forum/renting/807711-i-think-my-roommate-intends-using.html#ixzz5oK2SQ4kk

26, Chicago Tribune

27, The Star, Roommate should take responsibility for their pet: Ellie

27, FindLaw, What is Complicity or Accomplice Liability?

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