Dec 05 , 2019
If you have questions about having a dog in an apartment, you're in the right place! Whether you are thinking of moving into an apartment with your dog, or you already live in one and want to get a dog, this article will offer some helpful advice.
Don't feel like reading? Watch our YouTube video below and visit our YouTube channel for more where that came from!
Cover your bases!
The first thing you'll want to do is get your landlord's permission. Be honest and upfront - don't try to fly under the radar. This is important! The consequences of not following the rules here are steep. You could be facing the choice of giving up your dog or losing your place to live. Don't risk it! Be prepared to pay a small monthly fee as well as a nonrefundable pet deposit.
Always keep your pup's vaccinations up to date. This protects your pup, other dogs, you, and your landlord.
You should always keep ID tags on your pup, as well as have him or her microchipped.
What Kind of Dog is Best?
It's a myth that smaller dogs do better in apartments than large dogs!
Here's the secret: it's all about energy level!
The truth is that the dog's energy level is far more important than breed, size, age, etc. in determining how well they'll adapt to apartment life. Many large dogs make fantastic apartment dogs, and many smaller breeds are not well suited to living in small spaces.
Puppies bring about a whole new set of challenges to apartment living. They are more time consuming than adults. They have to potty more often, and the teething phase can be a bear! On the plus side, they will likely acclimate to apartment living easier than an adult dog would.
Multiple Dogs: How many is too many?
More dogs bring more challenges in an apartment. Most folks find that two dogs - one for each hand - is a reasonable number. Adding more after that can get complicated. You'll want to check your apartment complex's dog restrictions. Some places only allow one or two dogs, others have weight and size limits, and rarely you'll find apartments with no pet restrictions at all.
Don't ever leave your dog alone for more than 8 hours. Ideally, you'll be able to go home on your lunch break to let your pup out or hire a dog walker. Longer than 8 hours means your dog is more likely to potty inside. If they are the type to hold their bladders forever, they are at risk for developing bladder and/or urinary tract infections that are quite painful and can be difficult to treat.
Schedule potty breaks as best you can, so your dog can predict when he or she will be able to go out next. What will you do when your dog refuses to potty, but you have to leave for several hours? Every dog owner will experience this at some point, but a predictable routine keeps this irritating situation to a minimum.
If you can avoid it, don't feed your dog and then run out the door for several hours. Time it so they have a half hour to an hour for the food to digest, then let them out one more time right before you leave for work. At the end of the day, try to keep them from pottying for 2-3 hours before you go to bed. If you let them out at 9:30 when your last potty walk is at 10pm, they're less likely to pee at 10pm and more likely to wake you up early the next morning.
Make the routine fun! Give them a treat every single time you get back in the apartment. This teaches them two things: 1) They learn that going back inside means good things happen and 2) They learn where home is.
Home All Alone
What will your dog do during the day while you are gone? Can you bring your dog to work? If so, consider yourself lucky!
Many savvy dog owners make good use of wire crates. These keep your dog safe and contained in your absence. Consider leaving a peanut-butter stuffed Kong for them to chew on. Ideally they will sleep while you are gone.
But how to make sure they sleep?
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
Plan on doing some form of exercise every day!
What will you do when it rains for days on end?
What will you do when there's three feet of snow on the ground?
What will you do when it's 95 degrees and too hot to safely exercise your pup?
Some dogs might tolerate a boring day or two in a row. But most will make you pay for it. They might wake you up too early, potty inside, chew something up, bark nonstop, and so on. Come up with some creative exercise alternatives on these days that you can do indoors.
Mental games are a great way to wear them out. You can do nosework, teach party tricks, or get a doggy puzzle game. If burning physical energy is more important to your pup, you can play fetch up and down stairs, and teach your dog to jump over obstacles. Find some good playmates in your apartment complex and have some indoor doggie playdates!
A dog park is a great way for your social pup to burn off energy. If you're a runner or cyclist, look into canicross or bikejoring! If you are gone for long periods of time, consider hiring a dog walker. You can also enter your pup in training classes.
If you have a puppy or a small dog, pee pad training can go a long way! You'll want your dog to do their business outside as much as possible, but in a pinch, it is great if your dog knows to potty on the pee pad instead of somewhere else in the apartment. This is more difficult to teach to an adult dog, but possible. Pee pads don't work as well with large dogs, especially large male dogs.
Make sure your pups know to wait at the front door before leaving the apartment. Sometimes neighbors and other dogs will be passing, and you don't want your pup to run out and surprise them. Most importantly, though, waiting at the front door is a crucial safety measure to take.
Everyone likes a respectful neighbor. Keep your dogs leashed, and don't let them rush up to other people or dogs unless invited. Pick up all poop! Don't let your dogs bark incessantly. Remember, sleeping dogs don't bark! Do you regularly ride the elevator? If you are waiting to enter, make sure the dog in the elevator has a chance to get out before you take yours in.
Keep a clean apartment. One way to minimize dirt and dog hair is to groom and de-shed your dog regularly. The best place to do this is outside but pay attention to the wind!
Logistical Problems and Solutions
Consider the distance from your apartment door to the nearest potty area. Is it a quick, easy walk, or is it more complicated? In an emergency, can you quickly get your dog outside? For example, the 11th floor of a building with carpeted hallways will be far more challenging to keep a dog in than a first floor apartment a few paces away from a grassy lawn.
If you do live in that multi-story building in the city, there are ways to make it easier. Scheduled potty breaks are easy for your dog to adapt to. The problem arises if you have a tummy emergency. This is even more difficult to negotiate if it happens in the middle of the night, as it often does. If you are there when your dog vomits, you can have an emergency pee pad close by and place it underneath to catch the debris. If you know your dog is likely to vomit or have diarrhea while you are gone (we hope you've been to the vet first!), the best thing to do is crate him. This is where crate training comes in handy. Crates usually have a solid bottom that is easier to clean than carpet.
Rainy days, snowy days, and general yucky weather presents a new set of challenges. Keep a towel over the rug by the door to catch dirt and a second towel handy for wiping and drying off muddy paws. Some keep baby wipes by the door. Others use products like the Paw Plunger to clean off paws more thoroughly.
At some point, all dog owners need pressurized water. Whether that's to wash off muddy feet, gross stuff they rolled in, dirty blankets, or (heaven forbid) skunk smell. Without a mudroom, the most practical way to do this is with a handheld showerhead and a tub. Some apartments have dedicated washrooms for washing off pets. You may be able to find an outdoor garden hose that you can use in a pinch. Check to see if there are any DIY Dog Wash facilities in your area. For a nominal fee, you can give your dog a thorough bath using their equipment and products. Or the other option is to employ a full-service groomer. Groomers will usually allow you to board your dog for the day if you are busy. For really dirty blankets, consider using a DIY car wash to hose them off instead of running them through your washing machine at home.
No fenced yard? No problem. There are many ways around this. The easiest solution is to get a long leash. They come under names like check cord, lunge line, and training leash, but you can also make your own! Just make sure to use quality rope and hardware and tie good knots. Check with your apartment manager about setting up a temporary fence that you can put up while you are there to supervise and take down when you are not using it. Similarly, you can ask about using a tie-out under supervision, but never leave your dog alone like this.
So, what's the verdict?
Apartment life with dogs is doable! You and your dog can thrive while living in the city. The amount of work you'll have to do depends on your dog's needs. The ability to do the work depends on your schedule, commitment, and effort. MOST dogs can live in an apartment if you meet their exercise and mental stimulation needs. Be realistic if you can't do it. If it sounds like too much work, maybe it is. And that's okay! If you force it, it will be unfair to all parties, and it's better to do the right thing.
Have you lived in an apartment with your dog? Do you currently? Share your pictures and stories with us on social media!