Choosing to raise a dog in a pet-friendly apartment is not too different than caring for a dog in a free-standing home.
Sharing a home with a dog takes patience, a commitment, and an understanding of your obligation to the dog’s care and well-being. Choosing a pet should never be a spur of the moment decision, like a candy bar at the grocery check-out.
Check Your Lease
Apartment life means following the rules of a landlord or management company. Read your lease if a dog or puppy will become a part of your household. Many apartments have strict guidelines that limit the number and type of pet that may reside with a tenant. In most cases an apartment will require a pet security deposit to cover damages incurred by the animal. Take pictures of your apartment before you move in to verify the condition.
Not every dog is suited to apartment life. A little research will help you have a life-long, furry friend rather than a nuisance animal. Dog breeds are a guide to a dog’s temperament, though not always 100% accurate.
A dog’s size has little to do with how well it does as an apartment dweller. A small but hyper-active, constantly barking small dog will certainly be more annoying to neighbors than a large, calm dog. If you are adopting a shelter pet, ask the shelter vet for their opinion on a pup’s potential size. Puppies that are extremely skittish or have difficulty making eye contact may not be the right pup for an apartment unless you have a lot of previous experience with this type of dog. Older adopted dogs may have lingering trauma and can be difficult to socialize. Especially skittish dogs can become aggressive.
Whether you rent a tiny place in Chicago or a 4-bedroom in San Francisco, before making a commitment to living with and caring for a dog, reflect on your own style of living.
If you tend to be out for long periods of time you may want to reconsider having a dog. Dogs are social animals and if you work all day and then shop or have drinks with friends your pup will be lonesome, which leads to mischief, potty accidents, and anxiety. Dogs love to be with their owners, no matter what their owners are doing.
Choose a dog that matches your personality and lifestyle. If hiking through rough terrain for hours on end is your favorite weekend activity do not get a tiny dog that cannot keep up.
Much like selling a home with pets is different, apartment living for a dog means hearing unfamiliar sounds, smelling unusual scents and being in close proximity to strangers. It is important that you teach your dog how to interact with people whether riding in the elevator or walking through a lobby.
A dog that lunges, pulls on their leash or drools on someone’s dry-clean-only suit does not make a good neighbor. Many people are intimidated or afraid of dogs and by teaching your dog good socialization skills you will allay your neighbor’s fears.
Make sure you do not allow your dog to bark, howl, or cry for protracted periods of time. If you have hard surface flooring be aware of what playing with your dog may sound like to your neighbor directly below.
Regardless of the size of your dog you must choose where your dog will relieve itself. If getting to the apartment complex’s dog potty spot requires an elevator ride you must understand your dog’s elimination routine. It is unfair to expect a puppy to know when they must pee, and young ones must go often, so provide a spot—perhaps on a balcony—where a pup can go when they need to.
If you use a balcony for a potty spot, make sure the dog is unable to jump over the railing and that you can clean up after your pet. The next-door neighbor will not appreciate the smell of dog poop if the wind blows in that direction. Even if your dog uses the designated dog potty area in an apartment complex, make sure you are diligent in cleaning up after your pup. It is simply common courtesy.
Grooming and Maintenance
A glamorous breed of dog can sometimes require hours of grooming to maintain a tangle-free coat. Even a shorthair dog needs to be groomed regularly to assure a clean, pest-free coat. Brushing or combing your dog is an activity that should be begun when the dog is a puppy, so it becomes aware of the routine and feel of the brush.
This gives you an opportunity to check your dog for dermatological issues. If you and your dog take walks in the woods check your dog often for fleas and ticks. These are the kinds of pests that can travel from your apartment to your neighbor’s. And they will not say, “Thank you.”
When You Are at Work
Living and working in an apartment means your dog knows where you are all the time. What happens when you return to an office setting? Does the dog understand why you have been gone for hours, or if you are ever going to be home? Issues with separation anxiety are real for many dogs.
Consider hiring someone to walk and play with your dog during long absences, like a full workday. Introduce new friends a few times before you begin a new routine to avoid problems related to anxiety and boredom.
Another method to solve the problem of protracted absences is to enroll your pup in doggy daycare. Most dogs thrive in daycare situations.
Raising a dog in an apartment is not that different than having a fur friend in any other environment. They need love, food and water, toys, and someone to snuggle with during thunderstorms.
Sharon Elber (M.S. in Science & Technology) - Professional Dog Trainer
Sharon is a professional dog trainer with over 10 years experience. She is also a professional writer that received her M.S. in Science & Technology Studies from Virginia Tech.
For more info on Sharon click here