Why references and resumes are on the rise for pets


As more Sydneysiders choose apartments over houses, dog owners are going to great lengths to make sure their pets won't be rejected from apartment buildings.

When young Lulu moves apartments next year, she'll be relying on her credentials to win the approval of her new strata board.


Armed with her apartment history and a good behaviour reference, it's hoped she will win them over.

As more Sydneysiders choose apartments over houses, owners of dogs like Lulu are going to great lengths to make sure their pets won't be rejected from apartment buildings. It's not just tenants but owners of apartments too who are increasingly providing pet resumes, written references from trainers and vets and organising meet and greets with building management.

???"There's a misconception that they'll always be loud, misbehave and be messy or make a place smell," said Lulu's owner, Hossai, who says it could be hard to get owners corporations to see dogs as good tenants.

When the miniature dachshund started barking at a new dog in their Homebush West building, residents complained, and the strata management gave her an ultimatum: either the barking had to stop or Lulu had to go.

After a few training sessions, a dog instructor reported back to strata that Lulu's obedience had improved. The trainer will also provide a dog reference when they move to a new apartment.

Chief instructor Maria Cunningham, from Mutts with Manners, said it was becoming increasingly common in Sydney for pet owners to ask her for dog references they could pass on to strata managers.

"In a high-density environment, pets have to be so much better behaved."

She noted while some sought training to make a better impression on their landlord or strata, others wanted better trained pets they could hide more easily.

In addition to references form previous landlords, vets or trainers, pet owners are providing resumes with photos that detail everything from their pet's age, weight and temperament to grooming requirements.

It's an approach that's gaining momentum. Nationwide, more than 50,000 users of rent.com.au have uploaded resumes for their pets since the option was launched in late 2016.

Even more drastic measures are being taken overseas in high-density cities. In New York, some apartment buildings conduct dog interviews with strata committee members with some owners reportedly giving their dogs Xanax in an effort to keep them calm. Others opt to get DNA testing to prove a dog's pedigree.

Paul Culbi, eastern suburbs general manager for Jamesons Strata Management, said while formalised pet interviews weren't a thing in Sydney, 'meet and greets' between dogs and strata committees weren't unheard of.

"Most places have just got the [pet] application process in place and if the community or building managers aren't too sure they'll get the pet in and meet them," he said. "[But] interview scenarios would be limited by timing issues."

Building manager Phillip Thornburrow of Sydney Property Care, knows all too well how a meet and greet can help a pet get through the door.

When a resident who bought off-the-plan into a pet-friendly Lane Cove apartment block faced fierce opposition to his large dog, a Rhodesian ridgeback, Mr Thornburrow decided a meeting was the best way to put unfounded worries to rest.

"Notes from people were being put up in the lift, saying this dog shouldn't be allowed to move in, it could be dangerous ... it really wasn't nice," he said. "I told the owner I'd come meet the dog and make a judgment."

"She was the loveliest and most gentle dog I've ever met," he added. "Four years down the track we've never had an incident ... we've had more complaints from the smaller dogs in the building."

The story Why references and resumes are on the rise for pets first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.


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