Doggone it!
20-pound weight limit challenged!

Rob Foellinger's newest study, The Marke-Tactics Dog Survey, details what types of dogs do best in apartment homes. Rob polled dog trainers and veterinarians from across the country to determine if our industry's 20 pound weight limit on dogs had any merit. Review his results and decide for yourself.

The Results
The study found that out of the top ten breeds that do best in apartment homes, only one weighs under twenty pounds! And, out of the top ten, seven of the ten were rated by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as the most popular dogs! This means that we are eliminating 70% of dog owners form our potential resident base since the same seven out of ten dogs are the most popular dogs and weigh more than twenty pounds. Mind- boggling!

The list for the top ten worst dogs for apartments is equally staggering. Seven of these breeds weigh under twenty pounds!

So we ask you: Who dreamed up the twenty pound rule??

A Closer Look
The consensus of the pet professionals was that retrievers, collies and Shetland sheepdogs are all animals that are easily adaptable to apartment life. Retrievers are great hunting dogs, and collies and sheepdogs are perfect for herding farm animals. These dogs are bred to please their owner and to follow orders. They also take well to being "crated" in cages while their owners are away. Thus, they're good dogs for apartment homes as pleasing their owner is their #1 priority.

On the flip side, Chihuahuas, poodles and shih tzu's all can be, pardon my bluntness, dogs with attitudes. These dogs don't care if their owner is pleased or not. It's typical imagery of Ms Fufu feeding her recently groomed and be-ribboned toy poodle from a silver dog dish. Does this dog give the appearance of caring if she trashes the living room furniture?

A book called Evan's Guide to Civilized City Canines by Michael Evans also chooses many big dogs as great dogs to live in New York City apartments. In fact, the book strongly suggests Golden Retrievers which on the average weigh 70 pounds!

Will Bigger Dogs Increase My occupancy?
You be the judge. Here's what Rob wrote to me: "One manager of a 30-year old property in Charlotte, North Carolina found out first hand about the advantages of accepting large dogs than her competitors. She had been struggling for months to improve her occupancy with little success. Her competitors had much better curb appeal, nicer amenity packages and, often, lower rents than her property. Her occupancy seemed hopelessly stuck in the mid-70% range. Soon after changing her pet policies and building a unique marketing campaign around accepting large dogs, she began to see a remarkable improvement in both traffic and closing ratios. The only variable that had changed was her pet policy regarding large dogs. In a matter of 90 days, occupancy was at 94%, due primarily to her new policy of accepting larger dogs".

Trouble Shooting
If you allow dogs at your community, trouble- shoot potential problems by anticipating them before they begin. I spoke with one manager in Richmond who was afraid of the "larger dog, larger waste" factor. Encourage your residents to pick up after their dogs, and fine those who don't. I know this isn't always easy (I was writing a newsletter for a community in Northern Virginia and the manager said for "residents to pick up after their dogs or find a 'treat' in their apartment living rooms"). So ask residents to sign an agreement saying they will pick up after their dogs or face the consequences of your choice. To be fair, designate a "dog walking" area if you have the room. If owners are too busy (or lazy) to walk their dogs, will neighborhood children or senior citizens walk the dogs each day for them?

There are several companies in Indianapolis (and maybe your city, too!) That will pick up after neighborhood dogs for only $1 a month per dog. If you have 100 dogs in your community, that's only $100 a month. Will changing your dog policy increase your income enough to pay for this service? The answer, most likely, is yes. Offering obedience classes will help everyone involved for obvious reasons. Look into holding classes in your parking lot in the spring and fall.

Also offer dog grooming on site. Arrange for a "Groom-on-the-Go" van to make house calls to your community one Saturday a month. Check the yellow pages or a pet store for a company.

Dogs are a great way to meet people. Organize pet-related events so dog owners can get together. Be sure everyone knows where the nearest dogwalking park is and meet there on Saturday mornings.

Chew on This
We're not saying anything against smaller dogs. The point is to make you think about challenging the rules a bit. Who came up with the twenty-pound rule? Who knows. But pet professionals say large dogs are okay to have in apartment communities, too. Try accepting large dogs for a month (except Pit Bull and Dobermans) and see what happens to your occupancy. Or, limit dogs to one building only aren't covered by fair housing regulations! What do you have to lose except vacancies!

MARKETACTICS DOG SURVEY( no particular order)
10 Breeds that do best in apartments
Average: 50 lbs. Number of Breeds under 20 lbs: 1
Border Collie 37      Weimaraner #7 78
Sheepdog #10
22      Labrador
Retriever #3
Collie 55      English
Springer Spaniel
Cocker Spaniel #6 30      Golden
Retriever #1
Dalmation #9 55      Dachshund #8 13

10 Breeds that do worst in apartments
Average: 30 lbs. Number of Breeds under 20 lbs: 7
Beagle 18      All Terriers
(toy 4.5 to Pit Bull 80)
Chihuahua 4      Lhasa Apso 14
Shih Tzu 13      Basset Hound 50
Beagle 22      Pekingese 9
     Miniature Poodle 18
Bloodhound 85      Chow Chow 55
(#'s are AKC ranking for most popular dogs)
* MarkeTactics Consulting Group

This article is from Let's Party! The Quarterly Marketing and Retention Magazine. Increase your profit potential with resident retention and kiss creative burnout goodbye with the inexpensive and easy-to-implement marketing and retention ideas in Let's Party. Mention this article and receive $10 off the cover price. For details call toll free 1-888-2RETAIN.

Reprinted with permission from Rob Foellinger, President of MarkeTactics Consulting Group, 317-845-2964. Rob is an national speaker who has earned recognition across the country as a Marketing Consultant, Instructor, Strategist and Author.

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