My Pet Wrecked My Apartment…Now What?

Deciding to bring a pet into your first place is a big decision, but it can be a great one if you’re ready for it! But, what happens when you get the pet (thinking dog or cat in particular here, since they can cause the most damage) and they become more destructive than you anticipated?!


This happened to a good friend of mine in their last apartment. His sweet, potty-trained, 2-year old dog suddenly ignored her potty training and gnawed a piece of baseboard after escaping her kennel one day. His cat also enjoyed clawing through some of the carpet from time to time. Good news is that he didn’t panic. Instead, he took responsibility and made it better! Here are some tips for when your furry friend becomes more destructive than you expected.

While you live there…

First thing is first: Take the time to train your pet. Potty training should take top priority, but also use instances of misbehavior to train them not to continue. For example, when the cat started clawing through the carpet, my friend bought a scratching post and some catnip to train his pal to use that instead.

A key rule is to keep your apartment very tidy, meaning items that could be destroyed (think clothes, pillows, garbage, remotes, etc.) are put well out of your pet’s reach when you leave your apartment. This will save frustration, time, and money and does not take much effort each day.

Next, patch up messes best you can. In the baseboard case, it was pretty easy to buy putty from the local hardware stores and shape it back in place, becoming much less noticeable. In other cases, try to get creative and take some time researching and trying to fix up your place yourself.


Always clean up after yourself and your pet! If you come home and notice they made a mess inside, clean it thoroughly immediately. The time you take to clean up quickly and well will not only pay back in spades come move-out, but will also make your living experience better.

Depending on the damage done, it may be best to get your landlord involved. Find out if they allow or recommend steam cleaning dirty carpets or if they have preferred vendors you could contact. Be prepared, though, if carpet is ruined you’re likely on the hook to pay for its replacement!

During move-out…

Be up front with your landlord. Trying to hide damage to get your security deposit back will rarely work. Instead, explain the work you did to repair damages (as long as they’re approved by your landlord/building) and be willing to share in other expenses.

Bringing home a pet is a decision you shouldn’t make lightly for many reasons. If you don’t have the time or energy to train and properly care for it, they may turn destructive (leading to more costs and frustration for you). However, training and care can help you avoid most of these pet messes while enjoying time with your furry friend! If you’re not up for the task and risk, try adopting a fish, turtle, or other pet that’s far less likely to leave messes behind.

Before you get a pet, read Sammie’s advice on the right way to introduce to your home a new dog or a new cat.

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Author My First Apartment

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Sarah is a dog lover and advocate for conversation & laughing at your own jokes. Since finishing her college career in communications, she began working (and living) in Atlanta. After living in a few different apartments over the last few years, she's ready to share experiences. Stay tuned for adventures, tips and advice!

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