roommate dog

What to Do If Your Roommate Got a Dog Without Asking

roommate dog

Look at the lease to see if dogs are allowed, there are any extra charges, security deposit, and if you to seek permission. Also see if you are separately liable one the lease, or jointly liable with your roommate. Your landlord could evict your roommate, but careful they don’t evict you as well.

I thoroughly researched what to do if your roommate got a dog without asking. This is quite a common issue so it has been easy to get lots of different views and experiences from loads of people.

Here are the top 27 recommendations.

1. Things to Look out for on the Lease

lease agreement

Are pets allowed on the lease

Check what your lease says about animals, are they allowed, or are they not?

What kinds are allowed, how many, and so on?

If the lease says dogs aren’t allowed, your landlord could evict your roommate with three days notice if they don’t get rid of the dog.

Before you tell the landlord, check the lease to see what’s in it.

If you are jointly responsible for the lease, rather than being treated separately on it, be careful that the landlord doesn’t evict you as well. You as tenants have violated the lease by getting a dog and are all responsible, not just your roommate. Also, check local laws.

Roommate’s dog might be on a banned breed list

You could find your roommate’s dog is also on the banned breed list and often for a good reason. For example, Huskies need lots of exercise and mental stimulation; without which they can cause loads of damage to the property.

Labrador dogs are also high energy breeds, as are many others.

The lease may also say that you can’t have a dog bigger than a specific size.

Certain breeds such as a Pitt bull can also void the landlord’s homeowner property insurance. Sometimes the landlord can get extra cover for these breeds, but the price is higher, which of course is not economical for the landlord to do.

Is there a higher security deposit or rental fee for pets

There may be an extra fee payable for each pet in your place as well, and a higher security deposit because of the additional damage, wear and tear a dog can cause.  Some leases say you need written permission.

A quiet enjoyment clause

If the lease has a quiet enjoyment clause in it and your roommate’s dog is getting in the way of you enjoying the quietness in the apartment. You can discuss and bring it up with your landlord.

Leases can have special clauses

I read about a lease designed for renting to roommates, which says in the case of roommates, all roommates must also agree that the dog can be there, or there can’t be a dog at all.

2. Tell Your Landlord Who Might Evict Your Roommate

cellphone call

Probably best to warn your roommate first you are going to do this, so they have a chance to sort it out. Unless they will react so severely that you have to tell the landlord and stay away until the landlord evicts them.

Your roommate may not be happy, but it’s not fair on you or the landlord. Also, your roommate is the one who got a dog without asking you first and now refuses to rehome it.

Maybe if your roommate is evicted and you are both on the lease, you can’t afford the full rent. If so, possibly your landlord will be nice and let you leave the contract early as well;  make sure you don’t lose your deposit.

Maybe the landlord will agree to release you from your lease early without any bother, and that’s what you prefer so you can move on.

Landlords are usually concerned that animals can quickly and easily ruin their apartment, especially if it’s the landlord’s furniture.

If your roommate’s dog causes lots of damage, often the amount in your security deposit is less than the cost of the landlord having to replace items, pay tradespeople and their own time for organizing the repairs.

If the damage is considerable, the landlord may have a period where they can’t have other tenants while the repairs are being done.

The landlord may make things difficult for you as well

Be careful to judge your landlord on that one, as you never know what a landlord is like until they in a position like this. It’s the landlord’s choice; you are the ones who violated the lease and not them. As a result, if you break your lease, you are legally liable.

Speak to your landlord on the phone first to find out their views, so there is nothing in writing, and you can backtrack a bit if you say anything you wish you hadn’t.

Wait a bit of time for them to have thought about the situation in case they change their mind. After a few days, you can then email them confirm what was said and agreed.

3. Tell the Landlord quickly

If you tell the landlord quickly, they may understand, and even want your help as they’ll be concerned about their property.

If the landlord does not understand your situation, they may see you as part of the problem.

Landlords don’t like things happening in their property without their permission and not being told about it. Doing this ruins your relationship and trust with the landlord.

Even if a landlord allows pets, as part of their tenant vetting process, they often want to see how your roommate will look after it. The landlord wants to know how your roommate will keep the dog, if it will make noise, smell, and damage the property.

Many people, when they speak to the landlord to say their roommate got a dog without asking, find their roommates never told the landlord about the dog.

Even if they said, they often gave the landlord a false story. Such as the dog would only be staying for a few days because it belongs to a friend and they are looking after it while they are on holiday.

However, although the landlord maybe helpful and only go after your roommate for any damages, you can’t be sure! If the lease says you and your roommate are responsible, the landlord could withhold the deposit from both you of you, even if they said they at first said they wouldn’t.

Also, if your roommate does a runner, then you may be the only person your landlord can come after, and so they do so.

4. If you’re Scared of What Your Roommate May Do When you Tell the Landlord

roommate argue

If you trust your landlord, then tell them the situation. With your landlord, invent a reason they have to come over, which seems plausible.

Then your landlord will see the dog.

If your roommate wants you to cover up the dog being there, such as by taking it out for a walk at that time, you will have to think around that. Such as by asking the landlord to come at a random time in the day, turn up early, or when they come to the property notice there are dog hairs in certain places.

Don’t get the landlord to come immediately or it may be apparent to your roommate that it must have been you that called them about the dog they got without asking you first. Wait a couple of weeks, during which you haven’t spoken about the dog for a while. Otherwise, it will be easier to link the landlord coming with your actions.

Also, be careful as the landlord may not be good at keeping secrets, few people are…  Be especially careful if more than one person works at the landlord so that information will be shared around all the people there.

5. If Your Roommate Is Not on the Lease, You Can Evict Them

If your roommate is not on the lease, you can evict them with 30 days notice. Before doing this check your city’s laws.

6. Make Sure Your Roommate Doesn’t Take Advantage of You Loving Dogs

They might think that you will put up with the dog your roommate got without asking you first, because otherwise, the dog may not find a home.

Maybe it’s your job to find it a good home which puts an end to that.

7. Make Your Roommate Is Responsible for Any Damage Caused by Their Dog, Especially with Your Share of the Security Deposit

If the dog is doing little things, like leaving pee and poop spots in places, you need to be prepared for if the dog does more severe major to the property.

If you and your roommate are legally jointly responsible for the lease and your roommate keeps the dog in their room, getting back your security deposit equally depends on if there is also no damage in your roommate’s room.

8. If Your Roommates Aren’t Looking After the Dog Properly


First, see if your roommate will rehome the dog.

You might need to do it for them, such as if they can’t be bothered, or say they’ll do it, but you know they never will.

The first place to call is where your roommates originally got the dog from; sometimes the response back though is ‘It’s your dog now.’

If your roommate refuses to have the dog rehomed and they’re neglecting it, you need to tell the authorities, or the law could see you as complicit and so also liable!

If your roommate got a dog without asking as he or she thought it would be a fun surprise but didn’t have an idea of the work involved in keeping a dog, or anything else about the long term. They may not realize how it needs to be trained, socialized, given daily exercise, and so on.

If your roommate leaves the dog locked up in their room, the dog will have loads of pent up energy when it gets out and so is likely to cause lots of damage. It could even become dangerous, and then you need to put it in a shelter.

Puppies need even more attention, and will be destructive if left alone or in a room by themselves for too long.

Your roommate is going to get bored with the dog

Especially if they bought the dog as an impulse purchase, the ‘Ah isn’t it cute.’

A large dog will live for about eight years and a tiny dog twice as long. Once your roommate gets bored with the dog, they may not look after it properly.

You have probably also learned by now what kind of person your roommate is. If they’re lazy and can’t even look after themselves properly, let alone a dog, it could get even worse. Also, if they tend to go from one fad to the next…

If this starts to happen, so they neglect the dog, and your roommate won’t sort it out, you need to get the authorities involved.

9. If You Already Have a Dog, You Will Need to Use Special Techniques to Get the Old Dog to Accept the New One

Usually, a dog will not gladly accept a new dog coming into the household, and things can get nasty if not done correctly. It only takes a split second for a big problem to happen.

The dogs can be managed to accept each other in the end, so make sure your roommate knows how to do it. You may need to be the person who takes the initiative.

There are loads of things to do, such as when they are first introduced to each other, it should be on neutral ground and so not in your home.

If the new dog is a puppy, then try this resource:

Karen Pryoer, Clicker Training, What to Expect: Introducing a Puppy to Your Adult Dogs

If both dogs are adults, then this is an excellent guide

Lucky Dog, Animal Rescue, Tips on Introducing a New Dog to Your Household Pack

10. If You Previously Got Something Without Asking Your Roommate

If you were the first to get something without asking your roommate, then you are the person who set precedence.

Your roommate probably feels it’s okay that they got a dog without asking because you did something similar first.

Your roommate will probably also use what you did, to argue their side of the story!

Show how your roommate getting a dog without asking is different from what you did

Hopefully what you did was smaller, had shorter-term implications and did not affect other roommates so much — a bit like installing a games console without asking everyone else.

Say sorry and admit you were wrong

If you were the one that first got something without asking everyone else, the best move might be to admit you were wrong and say sorry.

It also shows what your roommate did was also wrong.

Then you can both discuss the situation in an adult way, especially to make sure neither of you does it again, and you can make the best out of a bad situation.

11. Make Sure You’re Very Clear That You Don’t Want a Dog in the Apartment

It can be easy to try and dissipate an uncomfortable situation with platitudes such as ‘it would be nice,’ and ‘that’s a nice idea.’

However, any vagueness opens the door for your roommate to hear what they want to hear, and not what you mean. So if you’re going to be polite, use things like ‘it would be nice, but not a situation I could live with.’

You are dissipating any argument, plus saying your point of view and needs in no uncertain terms.

12. You Got an Animal First, and Your Roommate’s Dog Does Not Get on with It

dog fighting

The following points can be especially useful if your roommate thinks that they should have an animal, as you have one. Your roommate is jealous or envious of you having a pet.

The person who got the animal first is the one that wins. The following helps explain why to prepare you for when you discuss it with your roommate.

Not just because it’s first to come first served, but when your roommate got the dog without asking, they knew you already had an animal and what the situation is.

If you already have a dog, cat, or something else, your roommate knew their dog would be coming to a home that already has this other animal.

It’s not fair on your animal to have its space violated

Let’s say you have a cat, you have had it for a while, and so it’s used to having its territory. It’s not fair to make it have another animal on what it sees as its territory.

Your animal doesn’t require as much work and attention

If yours is a fish or hamster, it goes without saying, but also a cat is not as much work as a dog.

Although cats can still make a mess, be a nuisance and are still some work to keep.

You got your animal with your roommate’s approval and planned everything in advance

It’s good that you did this because your roommate then has no excuse for getting a dog without asking.

Talk about how you asked your roommate first and carefully planned before getting the animal.

As you are a responsible person you probably went through all the issues and needs the animals will have, and how you and the apartment can cater for them.

If your roommate gets a puppy, and you have a cat; they have a better chance of forming a relationship because the dog is still small so the cat will have a better chance standing up to it.

13. The Dog Is Not Suitable for the Apartment

massive dog

If the dog is a breed which will get big, it may not be suitable for a large apartment. Big dogs need a yard and a home with lots of space.

The dog may be smaller now it’s a puppy, but look online for further information about the dog, such as to see how big it will get when it grows.

If you read in detail about the characteristics of the breed, other things may make it unsuitable. Such as if it sheds it’s hair a lot and so on.

14. Other Things Roommates Should Have Agreed Before the Dog Came

Even if you agreed to have a dog, there are loads of other things related to having a dog which roommates should have decided upon before the dog came into the household.

These will show if you are compatible roommates for having a dog, and bringing these up could make your point stronger, such as:

  • Do you have allergies, or do friends of yours who may come over?
  • How much will the dog be allowed outside? Will it be inside much?
  • Will you let it on the furniture?
  • Does the dog get to eat food scraps?
  • Will the dog be carefully house trained?
  • Is it allowed to go into roommate’s private rooms?
  • How often will your roommate be away and who will look after it when that happens? Can it go and stay with a friend of theirs?
  • What does your roommate expect you to do with the dog?
  • How often will your roommate brush the dog’s teeth, and bathe it?
  • Will your roommate do more cleaning because of all the mess the dog will create such as drool, shedding hair and so on.

15. Have Regular Meetings to Work out Any Big Decisions

If the roommates have regular meetings to discuss any changes or issues, it means they cannot get a dog without you all approving it in one of these meetings first.

After a while, this becomes a routine and accepted pattern of behavior.

Now it’s a bit late for that but useful for preventing future problems, especially those caused by the dog.

However, if you can think of times that previous decisions of this size were made communally with all housemates first, even ones that are smaller than getting a dog, you can use this to prove your roommate getting a dog without asking was not fair and should not be allowed by the housemates.

Especially easy if there are more roommates than you and the one with the dog, and they also don’t want it.

16. Your Roommate Acts Impulsively

Your roommate may have gotten a dog without asking as they’re an impulsive person. If so, they’ll probably do other spontaneous things in the future too.

Prepare yourself for this and try to get your roommate not to do impulsive things in the future, which could affect you.

Make it clear to your roommate how there are consequences for their actions; they need to ask you first if they do something that could affect you. The aim is to make them accountable.

Making sure you don’t enable your roommate when they do impulsive things, they have to pick up the pieces when they cause a mess as you won’t, and you both have to agree important on stuff in writing first, is an excellent way to start this.

17. Your Roommate Thinks That Getting a Dog Is a Fun Surprise for the Household

Your roommate thinks the dog is a fun surprise present. However, a dog is not just fun; it’s also a responsibility, a lot of work, and has real downsides.

Stress to your roommate that if the dog is a fun present for the household, it means your roommate is also going to be doing all the caring, training, exercise, vet appointments and paying its other bills. Otherwise, the dog is not a present; it’s more work, cost, and inconvenience for everyone else.

If you don’t want the dog, because of issues like it’s shedding hair, space it uses up, noise and all the other things, it’s even worse. Maybe you also don’t like dogs.

If your roommate is not willing to do all the work and take responsibility for the dog, they need to get it rehomed.

Also, they’re not in charge of the household to do things without speaking to the other roommates first.

The section of this guide will be a useful reality check for them.

18. Negotiate a Trial Period

If your roommate does not agree to rehome the dog, you may be able to negotiate a trial period.

Before it starts, agree what the terms are and the tests which have to be passed for the dog to stay. Make sure these are in writing so your roommate can’t say later on that you agreed to something different.

Things like:

  • When the trial finishes
  • What must not happen for the trial to succeed
  • What must happen for the trial to succeed
  • Even if the trial succeeds, it’s still your roommate’s dog, and they’re responsible for it

A message sent on your phone that your roommate replies to, to agree to the terms can be an easy way to do it with them.

19. Things to Say in the Chat with Your Roommate About Them Getting a Dog Without Asking

Explain to them the right and wrong ways to get a dog when you have a roommate.

a. If there’s an extra payment to the landlord for having a dog, they should pay it and not you.

b. You are not prepared to lose your security deposit if the dog causes any damage. If you are both on the lease as being responsible, your roommate will have to pay any amount lost from your share directly back to you.

Be careful not to make empty threats and offend them, but you also need to put your lines in the sand and stand your ground. Your roommate needs to take responsibility for their actions.

c. Your roommate pays for anything the dog damages.

d. Your roommate should have approached you first about getting a dog, and not get it without asking you beforehand.

e. The ground rules of what you are willing to do and not willing to do. Be careful of doing loads of stuff to help look after the dog. Your roommate then gets used to you doing all these duties and gets angry when you don’t.

There are loads of jobs needed to look after a dog like taking it for walks, training, going to the vet, bathing, cleaning its teeth, and so on.

Also if you do things with the dog and something goes wrong, make sure your roommate doesn’t hold you responsible, want compensation and so on.

Of course, I recommend not going too far with this one, good roommates help each other, and you don’t want to damage that vital part of a good relationship, however mad you may be. So you should still put the dog’s food in its bowl and things like that for your roommate every so often.

f. Point out the practical reality that your roommate is forcing you to do work that you did not want to do. There are always going to be times that you get home first, and the dog needs feeding, water, and all the other things that can come up.

Your roommate is going to want to go away and will probably not want to hire a pet sitter. Even if they hire a pet sitter, you have to deal with the pet sitter being in your home, letting them in and dealing with the problems if the pet sitter is not doing a good enough job.

Whatever happens, they have forced work upon you in some way, even if they say it’ll never happen.These point of view are all useful to create your lines in the sand and make your side of the situation clear to your roommate in ways they may not have appreciated.

20. A Roommate Agreement Would Have Helped Stop This Problem and Can Prevent Future Ones

A bit late now for helping stop your roommate from getting the dog without asking, but a good roommate agreement will also outline what happens next.

It also means you can legally sue your roommate if they go against it, but a court will only care about significant and measurable costs such as you losing your security deposit because of damage caused by the dog.

A good roommate agreement will be quite detailed about pets and have all the significant situations that could come up. Especially useful if your roommate tends to do stupid spontaneous things without care for how they affect others.

If you already have a roommate agreement, then look at what it says. If it says roommates can’t have dogs, then you have probably won, as long as they will go along with what was agreed. If it says they can have pets and don’t have to get your permission, there’s probably little you can do about it.

If the agreement says your roommates can have pets, they should still have told you first out of respect and politeness.

21. Don’t Act out of Spite

There are all kinds of tempting things you could do, especially on the spur of the moment when you’re mad.

Such as getting a cat knowing they won’t get on with the dog. Not fair on the cat, it creates an even bigger problem and doing things out of spite never go well.

It may seem obvious that these things are not constructive, but it can be so tempting to try and get revenge.

It never ends in a good place.

Everything has consequences.

22. Say to Your Roommate They Should Pay More of the Rent Because Their Dog Is Using up More of the Apartment

You have less space because your roommate’s dog is using more of it up. For example, when you sit on the sofa, there’s less space because they are there and so on.

Having another being there running around and doing things, makes the place seem more cluttered.

It’s common if you are single and your roommates are a couple, they pay more rent than you do. I suppose the same concept can apply with a dog…

Not sure you’ll be able to argue this one and win, but it’s another point that can add to the total of points you have to make. Each one helps and adds up to a bigger total.

23. Getting Around the Typical Excuses, Your Roommate Could Make

They can’t take the dog back

Most rescue centers and other organizations have returns periods between 48 hours and 2 weeks. Find out where your roommate got the animal from and contact the place to see if your roommate is telling the truth. You need to move fast on this one.

Your roommate may lose some or all of the money if they return it, such as losing administration fees and so on. They should have thought that through before they made the purchase.

There was no time to contact you

Rubbish, it takes 30 seconds to type a message. Your roommate probably knew you would say no, or didn’t care.

Unless they were rivetted with such excitement that they forgot everything, but your roommate should still care about others.

Your roommate says they thought you would be okay that they got a dog without asking

This is probably rubbish, or they are making an excuse by taking something you did in the past out of context. Such as you were previously okay with something smaller or that’s entirely different.

Ask them to tell you what you did in the past, which shows you would be okay if your roommate got a dog without asking.

Get them to be precise about what you did, so you can find holes in what they’re saying. If there are impartial witnesses to what you did, it’s even better.

The more examples you can get them to bring up, the more things there are that you can punch a hole in.

What your roommate isn’t telling you

There’s a decent chance the only reason they didn’t tell you they were going to get a dog, is they thought you would say no. They decided to do it first, apologize later.

Also, they thought that once they had the dog, it would be too late for you to do anything about it.

Maybe you can make sure it isn’t too late, as you’re willing to rehome the dog for them.

24. A Friend of Yours Is Allergic to Dogs

You could say that the dog is damaging your social life or even your romantic life.

Such as if you have a friend or romantic partner who often comes around and now can’t as they’re allergic to dogs.

You also have friends who don’t like dogs and won’t come round for that reason.  They don’t like how your roommate’s dog jumps up on them and barks when they come over. Your roommate’s dog is are also a bit bitey, which upsets them even if the dog is doing it to play.

Is your roommate going to pay for you to meet your friend in restaurants and coffee bars as they can’t come to your place? Even so, you can’t stay out with your friend all the time; sometimes it’s nice to be home and do dinner parties.

If your friend is allergic to dogs and you are hanging out as a group, it means all of you can’t come to your place!

Not fair on your right to enjoy the property.

25. Tell Your Roommate It Shows They Doesn’t Care About Your Feelings, Concerns, and Health

If your roommate got a dog without asking, the problem is more than the issue of having a dog around.

It means they don’t care about and respect you, which could say other things for your relationship.

Express this to your roommate; they need to understand how they have violated the relationship and your trust. Breaking someone’s trust is a big deal, especially when you are sharing a home!

Maybe you aren’t only upset that your roommate got a dog without asking, but also by how your roommate has disrespected you by doing so.

It’s good to know this as it stops you from acting out of proportion from not knowing what’s upset you.

26. Tell Your Roommate in Advance That You Don’t like Surprises

Some people love surprises and giving them to others. They think everyone else must be the same.

Make it clear you don’t like surprises, whether it’s with birthday parties, presents or anything else. This is to stop your roommate from doing other surprises in the future and to show how you didn’t like the surprise of your roommate getting a dog without asking.

27. You Don’t like Living with Animals

Your roommate may say or think you are selfish for this one, but it’s your life, living space and you need to have a home where you feel safe and comfortable.

You pay rent, and when you first saw the property, there was no dog! You have the right to choose where you live and not having dogs around is part of that.

A lot of people don’t have animals in their home, and for many, it’s because they’re not animal people. There’s always some smell, slobber or something from having a dog and you don’t have to like it.

Often dog owners think their animal doesn’t smell, but it does; they don’t think so because they’re used to it.

This reason is another thing to add to your reasons why your roommate is in the wrong, and you can use to argue your case. It’s a good enough reason to say you’ll move out. It wasn’t part of the agreement and situation when you chose to become roommates.

28. If Your Roommate Is the Owner of the Property

If your roommate is the owner of the property, the only recourse would be if there’s a roommate agreement or lease promising that neither of you will get a pet and what those pets may be.

Often because it’s an off the shelf agreement that they didn’t read before using, or thought at the time, this clause wouldn’t be relevant.

However, even then, your roommate will end your tenancy as soon as they can if you object to them having a dog.

Apart from that, there’s little you can do, as it’s their home and they can do what they like with it. They have no legal duty to explain them getting a dog to you.

The owner of the property can do whatever they like. For example, they can say you cannot have guests stay over, but this won’t prevent them from being able to have their guests stay over. Of course, this is when your roommate creates an agreement that you are bound by and not them.

In Canada, if you are sharing a place with the owner of the property, they can end the lease with no notice. However, if they’re sensible, to be fair they may give you 30 days.

Writer: Ian Taylor

roommate expert


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