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Living in an Apartment with a Dog

October 4th, 2017 - 10:06 AM

Adding a dog to your apartment life

According to BarkPost, evidence shows that dog ownership provides health benefits like an improved mood, lower blood pressure and a fitness routine. With these advantages, adding a pet to your family may seem like a great idea, but if you live in or are moving to an apartment, before taking that leap it’s important to make sure it’s a good fit. Small spaces can pose a challenge for breeds that require more activity and space, and some rentals have restrictions on the types of pets that are allowed. But with the right breed and a good plan, it’s possible to add a furry friend, even in an apartment. 

Pugs make great apartment dogs.

Choosing a pet-friendly space

If a dog is in your future (or your present), selecting a place that’s pet-friendly is essential. Having an animal in a rental that doesn’t allow them would violate your lease agreement. As you browse properties, talk to the landlord or management about policies — even if they allow dogs, there could be regulations about size, breed, number of pets, leash requirements, etc. Make sure you’re comfortable complying with their rules because any additional fees or deposits will likely be non-refundable.  

Look for apartments that offer plenty of space for a kennel, bed, food and toys. You may also want to consider the proximity of the apartment to a dog park and your work. If you need to come home at lunch to let your dog out, make sure it’s easily accessible.

Consider the level of your apartment, too. It may be better to have first floor access to get outside easily, or you might have success on a balcony with an outdoor patch of grass.

Finding good dogs for apartments

The most important things to think about when considering a dog for your apartment are the needs of the breed. With a small apartment you’ll want to look for those that don’t require a lot of space for activity. Because you’ll have nearby neighbors, it’s also wise to also look for breeds that train easily or aren’t quite as vocal. If you plan to take your pet to the park or out for walks on busy streets, consider those that are more sociable — you’ll often be around other people and pets. The American Kennel Club offers recommendations, including the even-tempered pug, the gentle maltese and the playful bichon frise.

What to do if your dog isn’t ideal for an apartment?

If you already have a dog and it’s not a breed recommended for an apartment, it may still be possible to make it work. In most cases, dogs that aren’t suited for apartment life simply need more activity than a small place can provide. That may mean you have to walk them several times a day or take them to doggy day care where they can have room to run and play. You may try varying walk routes to give active dogs exposure to new sights and smells and visiting the dog park often to give them places to play. For animals that are too vocal for apartments, try removing any motivation to bark — keep blinds closed and drown out outside noise with music or a sound machine. Difficult pets will likely benefit from training classes, so find someone who can help you teach commands and lifestyle guidelines.

Tips for living with a dog

It’s important to set some ground rules when introducing a pet to your home. To keep areas pet-free (either entire rooms or pieces of furniture), introduce guidelines as soon as possible. Redirect pets to areas where they’re welcome, providing a comfortable bed in a safe space.

  • For pets that require potty training, make a plan for either indoor training areas or frequent walks. Make walks easier by creating an area with easy access to things you need during the walk, like leashes, bags and treats. The AKC has some great tips for potty training a dog in an apartment.
  • Make sure to pet-proof areas like windows, patios and balconies. Some dogs may have trouble seeing outside, and you may need to cover windows during times they’re home alone. Because some dogs tend to chew on blinds, curtains may be a better option. If your pet is able to jump over barricades, avoid leaving them on balconies or patios unattended. You can also protect small dogs by covering balcony and patio railings (check the tutorial from DogZar applying acrylic sheets to balcony rails).
  • Damage is another common concern for apartment dwellers with pets. You can use rugs to protect flooring and protect the areas where your pet spends his time. And for dogs that chew or scratch, put protective material on door frames and other vulnerable areas.

Keeping a dog healthy

Once you’ve ensured the apartment is dog-friendly, it’s important to keep them happy and healthy on a day-to-day basis. 

  • Schedule regular appointments for veterinarian visits, staying up to date on vaccines and preventative medicine.
  • Schedule daily, regular activity. Not only is a visit to the dog run great for your pet, but it gets you moving, too! Daily walks are important regardless of the breed and their activity needs.
  • If you don’t have time for a daily walk, consider hiring a walker — either a professional or a neighbor — to help out.
  • Grooming your pet may be difficult in a small apartment bathroom, but it’s important to keep them clean. Research the needs of your breed, some require frequent brushing or just occasional baths. If you’re unable to perform regular grooming, take them to a vet or professional to keep them clean and healthy.

Have questions about living in an apartment with a dog?

Do you have any questions about apartment dog life? Leave us a comment below.

And if you need help moving your dog long distance, check out these helpful resources:

A practical guide for moving with pets

Moving to Hawaii with pets

Moving with Canada with pets

Moving to Puerto Rico with pets