My roomate’s dog routinely destroys the house; how do I let my roommate take responsibility and take better care of the dog and our home?

Dear Gwyn,

I share an apartment with two roommates. One of my roommates has a dog that he used to crate while we were out of the house. Recently he stopped crating him and he became a terror.  I came home from work the other day and the dog got into the trash, urinated on the couch, and chewed on my roommate’s shoes.  I know that accidents can happen, but this is preventable. How do I ask my roommate to start crating his dog again? And, my room mate comes home from work after me, am I responsible for cleaning up after the dog?

Kudos to you for being so patient.   An irresponsible roommate is a challenging situation.  You don’t want to make living together a tense situation, but your roommate’s has already created an uncomfortable situation by not properly caring for his dog.  By addressing the situation, you are not making your living situation more tense, you will be improving the living dynamics.

  • Talk to Your Roommate: Remind your roommate of the original living agreements. Express your expectations for a comfortable living situation.  Certainly a clean and healthy environment is reasonable.
  • Discuss House Rules: You may want to go back to your original agreement and ask your roommate to crate the dog while he is away. Or, you may ask that your roommate or a dog walker walk the dog more frequently.  The rules are less important than the end objective; the dog needs more care and structure in order to live in the home.
  • Clean Your Home: Chances are you have a deposit on the house. Your roomate’s dog acting out shouldn’t cause you to live in sqwaler, and certainly should not cause you to lose your portion of the deposit. In your discussion, remind your roomate that you would like him to pick up after the dog (the dog shouldn’t destroy the home in the first place) and that any damage the dog incurred on the home of personal property is your roomate’s responsibility to replace.

Of course, if you arrive home early and don’t want to wait for your roommate to return and clean, you can always pick up some or all of the mess.  Just make sure that you let your roommate know of your efforts so that he doesn’t have the ongoing expectation that you will happily pick up after the dog.

Don’t forget, the dog is not the problem, the problem stems from irresponsible dog owndership!