Having a dog is great for bringing joy, companionship, exercise, and playfulness into your life--but is a dog really an option if you live in an apartment? Yes! There are some key things you should do to make sure you and your dog can live happily ever after in your apartment.
Every apartment is different when it comes to pets--some say no pets allowed, others have restrictions based on size or breed, and most have some degree of pet deposit and monthly pet rent. These are things you need to check on before you get a dog. The Humane Society has information and recommendations for talking to your landlord about having a dog in your apartment. They explain that housing issues are often the reason a pet is brought to a shelter, and they have tips on making your situation the best for you, your dog, and your landlord. They recommend:
This applies both to the dog and to the apartment. Keeping an 120 pound Great Dane in a tiny studio apartment doesn’t make sense for anybody--a big dog needs room to stretch its legs. You’ll have the same amount of shedding, drool, barking, snoring, etc. that your dog would normally have, but in a much smaller space. A little dog, on the other hand, most likely wouldn’t mind a small apartment and still would have plenty of places to explore (and nap) without feeling crowded. Think about the size of your apartment and how much room your dog needs for you both to be comfortable.
Some breeds do better in an apartment than others. You don’t have to guess if your dog will be okay in your apartment--use your resources! Look up the breed you have or are considering (or something close to the breed) and see what the experts say about the best housing for that dog. You can even find a list of dogs that adapt well to apartment living to get you started and learn more about each breed. By educating yourself about different breeds you can figure out if an apartment is an option for your dog and how to help your dog get used to living there.
Having a dog that needs a lot of exercise in an apartment is definitely an option as long as you can provide your dog with plenty of opportunities to walk, run, sniff, and play outside. Make sure you have a way to take your dog on walks or bring them somewhere they can run around before you commit to a high energy dog. If you work long hours, spend most of your day away from home, or have responsibilities that fill up your time, you might not have time in your life for dog exercise. It’s not fair to a high energy dog to leave it inside a small apartment with no chance to exercise, and you’d probably go crazy with your dog bouncing around inside anyway.
The routine you have with your dog is going to be specific to you. Does your apartment building have a fenced-in yard? Is there a dog park nearby? Can you take your dog on walks right outside your apartment or will you have to get to a park? When are you at your apartment? Do you live with other people? Whatever your circumstances are, you can make a plan that works for you and your dog.
It will be easier to get your dog the exercise they need if you schedule it instead of scrambling each day to find time. Pick a time for walks around your neighborhood, visits to the dog park, trips to hiking trails, or whatever else you and your dog like to do outside. Always going to the dog park at the same time could help your dog make a couple dog friends who are there at the same time. Your dog will also benefit from the routine and knowing there is always a chance to get out of the apartment coming soon.
Your dog also needs to get outside for bathroom breaks. Making a routine for bathroom breaks can help eliminate inside accidents and constant trips in and out of your apartment building trying to catch the right moment. You can also train your dog to let you know when it needs to go out by ringing a bell or bringing you a leash which takes the guesswork out of trips outside.
Good training is essential for keeping a dog in an apartment. Your neighbors and landlord aren’t going to like it if your dog barks constantly or jumps on them when they’re walking in with groceries. Your dog is going to see other people and dogs all the time and needs to be well behaved during those interactions. This is where the age of your dog is really important to think about--a puppy is often much more work than an adult dog. You’ll be starting from scratch training a puppy and will definitely be dealing with accidents and overly frequent trips outside. There are plenty of resources for dog training, but decide how much training you can manage before you commit to teaching a puppy how to be a good apartment tenant along with everything else.
Wherever you own a dog it’s a good idea to have an established relationship with a veterinarian. You need a place to take your dog for check ups, vaccinations, and emergencies. It’s also smart to have some first aid for your dog in your apartment, like anti-bacterial and first aid sprays. You should also have a plan for anytime you get stuck away from home and need someone to check on your dog. Create a support staff of people you know you can turn to if your dog needs help, a walk, or a bathroom break.
Owning a dog in an apartment can seem impossible, but with planning and consideration it can be amazing for you and your dog. Now that you know some important things to think about, you can start talking to your landlord and planning how to give your dog the best apartment life possible.
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