Dogs In Apartments: How To Keep Your Pup Happy and Healthy
There’s a reason dogs are called man’s best friend. They’re our constant companions and confidants, and science even tells us that dogs make humans happier. That happiness is a two-way street, however, and it’s important that dog owners make sure their canines are healthy and happy, as well. You’ve already taken the first step by finding a pet-friendly place to live! However, if you’re living in a small apartment, this can come with certain challenges. With a little planning, however, an apartment dog can thrive just as well as hounds who live in houses.
An Apartment Dog Needs Plenty of Walks
Dogs are among some of the best pets for apartments, but caring for them does require quite a bit more effort than owning a cat, bird, or fish. One of the biggest considerations when keeping a dog happy in an apartment is making sure he gets plenty of exercise.
How much is enough? This will depend on the dog’s breed and personality which affects their energy level. Some laid-back breeds (Pugs, Newfoundlands, and Papillons) need less exercise while others (Labrador Retrievers, Border Collies, and Weimaraners) need to move around more often or even be taken to a dog park (or at least a dog-friendly park) where they can run and chase a ball. Generally, most dogs do well with three to four 15-minute walks per day. This will help keep them exercised, stimulate them mentally, and give them much-needed potty breaks.
Size can also be a factor. A bigger dog in small spaces will probably need to stretch its legs a little more than a smaller one. Smaller dogs can maneuver easier in an apartment and won’t be as cramped in a tinier living space. Both will still need their exercise, but be aware of your pup’s size before you under or over-exercise them.
Create a Doggy Space
Your apartment is your domain … but you want your dog to feel at home there, as well. To accomplish this, make an area just for your apartment dog. Depending on what they enjoy, this might include a soft blanket or dog bed or even a crate (some crate trained dogs feel safer having access to an enclosed, smaller space). Give them a basket of their favorite chews and toys and set up a special food and water area so they have a consistent place to chow down.
Focus on Training and Positive Reinforcement
When you live with a dog in an apartment, you’re going to need to focus on specific areas of training. Because most apartments aren’t going to have a doggy door that will allow your four-legged friend to wander outside and relieve themselves, the first thing you’ll need to do is potty train him. You can do this by taking your pup out frequently and making a big deal out of it when they pee or poop outdoors. Putting down potty pads in accident areas can help if your dog struggles with this training.
Another reality of apartment life with pets is that your dog will have to get used to a certain amount of neighbor noise. This might be in the form of doors opening and closing, the sound of people walking by outside, or other sounds from above or next door. As with potty training, positive reinforcement works wonders. If your dog barks, ignore it and reward them when they stop. Alternately, distract them by having them perform a trick. Keep in mind that a tired dog is less likely to bark, so giving them enough exercise can help in this area.
Consider Hiring a Bit of Help
If despite your best efforts, your dog seems like she’s bored or not getting enough exercise, it may be time to invest in some help to keep her entertained. Check into local doggy daycares where you can drop your pup off to get some playtime while you’re at work. You might also hire a dog walker or pet sitter to drop in and log some play and walking time with Fido if you’re too busy to take them out during the day. Unless you plan to travel with your pets, building a relationship with these kinds of businesses will also ensure you have someone to take care of your dog when you go out of town.
Whether they’re big dogs or small dogs, energetic or laid back, apartment life with pets may take a bit of planning, but once you get into a routine, everything will fall into place for you and your apartment dog. Most people find that the companionship, laughs, and loving doggy snuggles make the time and financial sacrifices well worth it.