When I was in 2nd grade, our class wrote and illustrated our own books that were later “published” (obviously). Mine was an adorably-obnoxious plea to my parents, titled “I Really Want A Puppy.” And I really, really did. Fast forward to just a few short years ago, when my sister finally #blessed our family with our first dog: Ellie. While Ellie lives back in NJ with my fam, I am her #1 tanta (which we think means aunt) and her city home. She’s not the best at the dog park, but she sometimes behaves in Anthro, so we forgive her.
Because of my posts with Ellie, I’ve gotten a lot of requests over the years to dive into some of the Philly dog-owner specifics. But don’t worry, I don’t think my faux-dog owning qualifies me to talk about any of this. Luckily, I’ve enlisted the pros: six Philly women, from all across the city, who own, care for, and love on some pups while living their daily city lady lives. I asked these ladies the same questions, and they came back with tips, recommendations, and stories about living with a dog in pet-friendly Philadelphia.
My experience finding a dog-friendly place to live: I have lived in 3 apartments since Harvey came into my life. My dog-friendly apartment search tips are pretty simple. First, use an apartment rental company. Rental companies are very knowledgeable in pet policies for many buildings around the city, which takes a lot of the guess work out of your search. Many buildings have weight, breed, and overall size restrictions on dogs – a terrible set of generalizations that can make finding an apartment for you and your pup more challenging than it needs to be. Talk to the agency about your type of dog and your budget, as some buildings have astronomical pet deposits and tack on pet-rent on top of your own rent. On the flip side, if you are more of a do-it-yourself’er – I have found that the Craigslist and Hotpads search filters are surprisingly helpful. Be prepared to make a preliminary call to the landlord before setting up a viewing to be sure that they are in fact pet-friendly, as Craigslist ads can sometimes fudge the truth.
My top recommendations for dog walkers, training, classes & more: I cannot say enough about Bark Busters for dog training. When I first brought Harvey home, I learned very quickly that he had terrible separation anxiety, I couldn’t even take a shower without him crying and scratching at the bathroom door. Bark Busters is pricey, but they come to your house and train the dog in their comfort zone. They have a lifetime warranty on your training purchase, so if you ever move again and your dog reverts back to their bad habits – they will come back and help you retrain back to better behaviors. For dog daycare and overnight stay, we use Camp Bow Wow in Northeast Philadelphia – just a quick drive up 95 if you have a car in the city. Camp Bow Wow has great indoor and outdoor space, all day play for your pup, and camp “cabins” for their nightly stay. Harvey loves to go there to play, their prices are less expensive than Center City kenneling, and they have a downloadable app that lets me watch him on the webcam during the day when I’m out of town.
Best places for a walk or trip to the dog park: We love Seger Park! Though I don’t live in the South Street area anymore, this was a daily stop for us on our evening and weekend walks. The park is maintained and primarily funded by the dog run members – membership is a very reasonable at $50 per family. While you don’t necessarily need to be a member to use the dog run, it’s well worth the yearly donation to know that your pet goes home nice and tired after running around all evening.
My advice to Philly ladies considering getting a pup: Know the characteristics of the breed you’re getting before you commit. If your breed of dog needs lots of exercise (like Harvey), make sure that you have access to outdoor space like dog parks and nice walking neighborhoods so that you and your pup can really enjoy your time together. Also make sure that you have a dog-friendly and puppy-proofed apartment – is everything off the floor? Puppies will put anything that they can in their mouth. Pick up and hide your best pumps and sneakers, there were times when I would have preferred to let Harvey just chew on $50 bills than my shoes (RIP fancy heels). Also, is there room for your new pup to run around when the weather is bad? We have loved living in row homes because we have at least one longer hallway for fetch – same when we lived in our Chinatown loft, the hallways in the building were dog zones for neighbors to get together and let the pups run around. Be prepared to meet many other dog enthusiasts and don’t be sad when they only remember your dogs name in passing, not your own. Having a furry friend is the best, enjoy!
My experience finding a dog-friendly place to live: For how many dog-friendly establishments there are in Philly, finding a dog-friendly apartment was tough. I got rejected from one because my dog was slightly over the weight limit, even after they had approved my credit and references and I had told them from the very first email how much my dog weighed. I was rejected from another because I was told my dog was “part wolf” (which is untrue). Other apartments weren’t upfront with their pet policy and had hidden expensive monthly pet fees or had $900 pet security deposits. It took a little while, but I finally found a good apartment that actually didn’t have any extra fees or weight limits. So if you’re looking for a dog-friendly apartment, be upfront from the start about the weight and breed (even though that didn’t help me in some cases) and be patient!
My top recommendations for dog walkers, training, classes & more: I needed a dog walker at the last minute once, and I actually had great luck just posting on a Facebook page that my boyfriend belongs to for med school! It was cheaper than hiring a professional dog walker, and everyone was very eager to walk my dog, since students like picking up odd jobs.
Best places for a walk or trip to the dog park: The Schuylkill River Trail is great for walking my dog! For parks, I actually really like hanging out at Hawthorne Park because it’s small and isn’t as well-known like Rittenhouse Square.
My advice to Philly ladies considering getting a pup: It can be hard work, but it’s definitely worth it! There’s nothing better than coming home from a long day at work to find an excited pup wagging its tail off to see you!
My experience finding a dog-friendly place to live: I tend to not look at places that don’t advertise or say outright that they’re dog friendly, better to keep the search narrow and not fall in love with a place that won’t take your four-legged friend.
My top recommendations for dog walkers, training, classes & more: For dog training for the “problem dog,” or strange dog problems, I like The Philly Pack because they work with remote collar training. Not everyone agrees with this kind of training, but being a former stray, Ghost was having some real issues with running away if she got off leash and not coming when called. After she ran into the street, I knew I wanted to use the remote collar, not just for her safety, but because I didn’t want her to be on a 4 foot leash the rest of her life. Now, she doesn’t even need the collar! For very short-term daycare stays, we stay local and use Ruff Life. It’s great for daycare because you get to know everyone who works there personally and they get to know you and your dog. Ghost hates to leave me but forgets all about me and has fun once I’m gone, so we have to do a little “dance” sometimes to get her in the door and they understand that and help. For long-term, we go with Philly Pet Hotel, where you can board your dog for multiple days. They have a day and night plan to keep your dog exercised and happy.
Best places for a walk or trip to the dog park: Old City can’t be beat to just get lost in, you’ll find a historic marker or hidden park or interesting architecture at every turn. My favorite way to walk is when my husband and I take Ghost out and every corner decide “left, right, or straight?” and try and get lost. As for a dog park, we are members of Orianna Hill dog park. We’re almost a mile and a half from this park, there’s definitely closer dog parks, but the walk is worth it. It’s a private park so people who use it should be members, because it’s completely privately funded and wouldn’t exist without its members (and turn into spanking new condos or something). It’s big enough where a dog can cut loose and really sprint, but small enough where you can keep on eye on them from anywhere you sit.
My advice to Philly ladies considering getting a pup: I always say to those considering a dog, especially a young one or puppy, make sure if you don’t have tons of time time for a dog, you have money. By that I mean: you can afford dog daycare or a dog walker or training, etc. If you don’t have the money, make sure you have the time. Research training your dog yourself, get your dog tons of exercise, or find a roommate who doesn’t mind helping. You can make either scenario work, but what you can’t have is no time and no money, you’ll have a bored little monster chewing up your apartment in no time.
My experience finding a dog-friendly place to live: I have to admit that lucked out with my place. My landlord is COMPLETELY dog friendly and I lived at his place before I had a pup of my own, so when it came time to adopt, the process was super simple.
My top recommendations for dog walkers, training, classes & more: I trained Charlie using advice from trainers on YouTube, but talking to other fur parents at the dog park has made me want to check out Zoom Room in NoLibs.
Best places for a walk or trip to the dog park: Charlie’s favorite place in the world is Orianna Hill dog park in NoLibs, but we also love the dog park on the Schuylkill Banks and the occasional trip to Wissahickon. For a day trip, there’s a perfect little dog beach in Longport, NJ.
My advice to Philly ladies considering getting a pup: DO IT. My pup is more than just my pet, he’s my therapy dog and cuddle buddy. Philly is such a dog-friendly city, so your fluffy child will have no problem finding some butts to sniff.
My experience finding a dog-friendly place to live: Overall, Philadelphia is a fairly dog-friendly community, however, having a pit, there is almost always some sort of issue. I rent from PMC, which may not be the best management company overall, but they have no breed restrictions. Most places require either a one-time pet deposit or an additional monthly fee.
My top recommendations for dog walkers, training, classes & more: Andrew’s Pack are the best dog walkers. I have known Ryan and Drew for 5 years now, and they are VERY reliable – even on short notice. Also, since Emmie does not necessarily do well among other dogs, whenever I need to go away, Ryan always stays at my apartment. It is nice to go away and know that she is taken care of.
Best places for a walk or trip to the dog park: I don’t take Emmie to dog parks unfortunately, but Schuylkill Dog park is amazing – it has both a small and big dog area, along with water. I usually go for walks down along the banks or really anywhere depending on mood/weather. It’s nice because not only does my dog get exercise, but I can get some as well.
My advice to Philly ladies considering getting a pup: Go for it!!! Definitely ADOPT – PAWS and Philly ACCT are full and there are so many wonderful dogs that need homes. I am obviously a pit bull advocate, but will say they are not for everyone. I suggest you have experience with dogs, as they can be tough (both personality and acceptance-wise) but they are the most amazing, loving dogs. If you are considering a pup, remember they are a commitment – and you must be able to handle that.
My experience finding a dog-friendly place to live: When my fiancé and I decided to live together, we knew a dog was going to be in our future at some point. We didn’t really waste our time looking at non-pet-friendly places to live. I think if you’re looking for a place to live (for rent) for more than a quick time period and you think a dog (or cat!) is in your future, don’t waste your time looking at non-pet-friendly places. There’s a lot of inventory in Philly for rentals right now, be sure to keep the pet-friendliness of the place in mind. I’d also like to note that I adopted Baby from a fabulous rescue organization – Pibbles and More Animal Rescue – and I currently volunteer as an application processor. I am the one who receives adoption applications and calls all references, even landlords, to ultimately recommend adopters for approval or denial – and verifying that the landlord is on board with adopting is probably the most important step in the process. But with that being said, landlords are people too and sometimes simply asking nicely can change a lease to a pet-friendly one – probably with a small pet deposit.
My top recommendations for dog walkers, training, classes & more: We got Baby when she was 18 months old and luckily, she was house trained with many basic skills as well – sit, stay, drop it, etc. – so we haven’t had to use many dog training resources aside from YouTube to teach her some cool new stuff (roll over!). Additionally, I am very lucky to say that because of a great network of family and friends, I’ve only had to use a paid dogsitter once. Although I work a demanding job in public accounting, my fiancé owns his own video production business conveniently located in Queen Village – which, although also demanding, allows him to make his own hours and rules for bringing pets to the office. Baby spends a few days in his office during the week or he can stop home between shoots to walk her if we can’t be home in the evening. We are lucky that Baby can be alone for a whole work day—not all dogs and dog owners are as lucky. I’m able to work from home a few days a month as well, and Baby sure loves that. The primary reason that Patrick and I are able to make dog ownership work, aside from our flexibility, is our previously mentioned network. We have a few friends and family members who don’t own dogs but love Baby as their own and are dedicated dogsitters when we need them. Even Baby’s amazing foster mom who had her for 3 months before we did (Hi Monica!) has Baby-sat many times. I think it’s important to consider your network before adopting a dog. The responsibility is huge, and as fees for services can add up, it’s good to know that you have people to count on.
Best places for a walk or trip to the dog park: I might be biased, but I love owning a dog in Old City! Baby gets to run around Independence Mall every week, tries to chew the Ben Franklin impersonators’ walking sticks, and meets tourists all the time. Additionally, we are a quick walk to Race Street Pier (side note: I am getting married on Race Street Pier next year and Baby is our flower girl… she doesn’t know yet though), Washington Square Park, and the best kept secret in town—the grassy areas along Wood Street, between 5th and 2nd Streets. Although we are near the Penn’s Landing Dog Park, Baby is a previously abused rescue dog and can be unpredictable at times, so we avoid unleashed dog areas. Old City has so many options for leashed and unleashed dogs though!
My advice to Philly ladies considering getting a pup: I spoke to this a bit above—although dogs are fluffy and fun, they are a huge responsibility! Be sure you have the resources, time, and network to commit to a lifetime. But if you can make it work, it’s so rewarding knowing that you are the center of this little fluffball’s universe, aside from peanut butter, toys, squirrels, etc. Always consider rescue and #AdoptDontShop! PetFinder is your best bet to find your new best friend.