Regardless of what others might think, having a dog in apartment, better yet, giving your dog a good life while living in an apartment is totally possible. Sure, most people would probably not choose this for their dog but it is not always possible to avoid. People choose to live in apartments for a number of different reasons- financial, personal, city living, preference, etc. Personally, I lived in a small apartment with my Australian Shepherd (a high-energy dog) for two years. Your dog can still have a fulfilled life in a smaller space, you might just have to be a little more strategic.
⇓ Below is the master guide to having a dog in an apartment
Things to consider before you sign a lease
Check the apartment’s pet policy
You will need to research the apartment’s pet policy before signing a lease or even looking at a place. There are many apartment complexes that are not pet-friendly or restrictive on what dogs they will allow. I have seen many places have a weight or breed restriction, so just be cautious of that. The last thing you want is to get excited about a place and find out they don’t allow dogs.
If an apartment is dog-friendly, check out their pet fees. Many places will charge a pet deposit and monthly pet rent fee. This varies from apartment to apartment, but important to keep in mind when considering your rental budget. Just for reference, my apartment charged a 350 dollar deposit and a 25 dollar monthly pet rent. Some apartments might charge more, some less.
Check the available green space within the apartment complex
Green space means the grassy areas within the complex. Are there areas you can take your dog out for a bathroom break? Are you in a skyrise apartment in the city and you will have to walk somewhere every time you need to take your pup out? Is there a side yard for the dogs to use? These are all things to look out for while researching places to live.
Is the apartment very walkable?
Taking dogs on walks is very important. Is the apartment located near any trails or places to walk? Is it straight off a major roadway with no sidewalks available? This might not be top of your mind while you are looking at a place. However, this can quickly become a problem if there is nowhere convenient to walk your dog.
Keep up-to-date with vaccinations
Apartments are a shared space which means close corridors with many people and other pets. Many dogs are using the same lawns, yards, walkways, etc. This creates more opportunity to spread harmful germs that can make your dog really sick. Make sure your dog is up to date on all vet recommended vaccinations. If you have a dog under a year-make sure they have their parvo vaccines. This is a highly contagious illness and can be spread from dog to dog.
Things that will make apartment livin’ easier
Get a first floor apartment if you can help it
This one might not be possible but if there is an option, consider a first floor apartment. You will thank yourself later when you have to take your puppy out multiple times a night. It’s more convenient than an apartment on the fourth floor.
A tidy space is a happy space
Most apartments don’t come with a lot of square footage. This means you will need to be strategic with the space you do have. An apartment can appear larger if it is less cluttered. Keep a designated basket to house all your dog’s toys. Have an area in the kitchen or pantry where you neatly store your pup’s food, treats, etc. You can also buy wall hangers to keep your collars and leashes so they don’t end up on the floor.
Create a routine for your dog
Just like many humans, many dogs thrive on a routine. Creating these habits for your dog will help your day run smoother. Try to feed your dog at certain times, go on walks, play, etc. This will help your dog know what to expect throughout their day.
Give your dog time to get used to the noise and distractions of apartment living
It might take your dog time to get used to living in an apartment. This especially holds true if your pup came from living in a totally different environment before. Apartments tend to be busier with the hustle and bustle of cars, people, and pets. When we first moved in to our new apartment with our dog, Lacy, she was overwhelmed with all the new smells and noises. She would react to people walking their dogs outside, doors creaking in the hallways, cars going in and out of the parking lot…you name it. She was used to a rural setting and it took her awhile to grow accustomed to her new home.
Dog proof your balcony if necessary
This tip is for anyone who does not live on a first floor apartment. Many apartment units have patios (ground floor) or balconies (above floors). Make sure your balcony is safe for your dog to go out on it with you. Be aware of how large the gaps are between the balcony’s bars. When I lived in my apartment, I noticed many of my neighbors with dogs used a netting material to wrap around their balcony. Some type of barrier will help to ensure the safety of your pup.
Things that can help while you’re away
Create a safe space for your dog when you are away
We all love our dogs but it is not possible to take them everywhere we go. Creating a comfortable and safe space for your dog while you are way will help reduce stress and anxiety. Have a plan before you leave on what you will do with your pup while you are out of the apartment. Are you comfortable letting them run the whole apartment? Would you feel better if you gave them a specific room in the house? Many people choose the kitchen because they have the most mess-friendly floors.
Get a Pet Camera
If you hate the thought of not being able to check up on your pup, a pet camera will be your best friend. There are really affordable options online that will allow you to see your pet through an app while you are away. I use this with my dog and am able to speak to her over the camera’s speakers. It is an easy way to have peace of mind while you can’t physically be there.
Consider if a doggy day care is an option for you
This will depend on a few factors- personality of your dog, budget, day care options in your city, etc. Not every dog is made for a daycare situation. Many daycares will ask you to bring in your dog for a temperament test to see how they react around other dogs. As far as pricing, some daycares are affordable while others are a pretty penny. It is important to research different facilities, read trusted reviews, ask friends and family before enrolling your dog in a program.
It’s no secret dogs get bored just as humans do. Boredom can lead to destruction and nobody wants to walk into that after a long day at the office. If you have to leave your dog alone throughout the day, consider getting them toys that will keep them occupied. These can include puzzle toys, frozen kongs, durable chews, etc.
Check out this post if you need some ideas on how to tire out your dog before you leave the house.
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