Dogs are some of the best companions we can have. They’re loyal, energetic, cute, and before long, they feel like members of the family. But having a dog in an apartment can be tricky — especially when space is at a premium.
So how do you create a safe, healthy, and happy environment for your dog in a small apartment?
If you’re lucky enough to have found a dog-friendly apartment, then the first step is already taken care of. But this doesn’t mean you should jump right in and go grab the first pooch you see. Being a dog owner requires responsibility as well as love, so you’ll want to make sure you’re fully prepared before bringing a pup home.
Before You Get Your Dog
Below are some tips to help you get your apartment dog-ready. After all, you want your space to be fully canine-compliant to make it easier on both you and your new pet.
Scope Out the Neighborhood
Chances are you already know your neighborhood pretty well. Still, it’s worth probably looking at through a dog’s eyes. Are there good spots for walking (and sniffing)? Is there a fun place to play nearby, or a spot for some doggy socializing?
Your dog’s health is of the utmost importance, and that means regular exercise. Having a small apartment means less space for your dog to play and release energy, so you’ll need to find a good exercise spot outside your home. Even if you do have a yard, chances are it won’t be big enough for your dog to properly run around in.
Depending on your neighborhood, it should be relatively easy to take your dog for a bathroom break. Besides that, you want to make sure you’re taking your dog for a walk (or a run) at least two times a day, whether it’s just around the block a few times or at a nearby park. Bonus if you can find a dog park where your best bud can meet some furry friends.
Tip: Dogs love open spaces! Give your pooch a chance to run around and play in a larger space at least once a week. Releasing all (or most) of your dog’s pent-up energy also makes them more likely to behave inside, too.
Choose Your Dog
If you’re an apartment dweller, you’ll probably want to choose a breed that’s well-suited to smaller spaces (this doesn’t necessarily mean a teeny-tiny dog, though). Keep in mind that some small dogs are very high-maintenance and/or noisy, which doesn’t translate super well for apartment living. This is why research is crucial to choosing your future dog. After all, you want your pooch to be happy and healthy, and the best way to do that is by picking a breed that matches your lifestyle from the get-go.
Get Your Apartment Ready
While this process largely depends on the amount of available space you have, it’s always important to make sure your place is safe and ready to welcome your new dog before you bring it home.
One of the best things you can do before getting a dog is to create spaces for their food, toys, and doggie bed. Dogs enjoy chilling out as much as you do, so be sure you create a comfortable area for them to have a snooze. Keeping all the toys in one place is also a good idea.
Depending on your dog’s age, you may need to make concessions for the occasional accident. While potty training naturally comes after you get your dog, there are still ways to prepare for it before they get there. This could mean purchasing a crate for easier training, or designating an emergency spot in case of accidents. An indoor grass patch like this one from Frisco is a much better alternative to a big mess on the floor.
Another way to get your place doggy-ready is to make sure that anything that could be harmful to your pup is safely stored away. Some dogs will eat practically anything, so be sure your trash bins are secured, as well. You’ll also want to put away anything that’s valuable or easily breakable until your dog is trained and used to moving around the smaller space. You want your dog to be happy and comfortable above all else, and that means you may have to sacrifice that fancy rug or new table lamp — at least until they adjust.
Tip: It’s your responsibility to get your space ready for a dog, not the other way around. Getting frustrated if (or when) a dog breaks or ruins something will only make your pet anxious or nervous. To keep them (and you!) happy, have patience and keep your cool.
After You Get Your Dog
The hard part is over! You’ve planned, you’ve rearranged, and you’ve cleaned up, all in an effort to create the best home possible for your new BFF. However, planning doesn’t mean that your work is done. It also takes care, responsibility, and most of all, love to own a dog, and this can be even more complicated in a small space.
Set Some Ground Rules
Unfortunately, discipline is also a large part of dog ownership, especially for apartment dwellers. Sharing a living space means that you have to take your neighbors’ comfort (and sanity) into consideration. And this means setting some basic rules.
Dogs bark. It’s what they do. However, a constantly barking dog can be stressful for both you and your neighbors. One way to combat this is to pay attention. Is your dog barking because they need a bathroom break, or because they want some attention? Either way, it’s important to learn to read cues like these to determine what your pet needs.
You also need to establish what is and isn’t ok for your dog. If they aren’t allowed on the bed or a specific piece of furniture, be sure to establish that early, and be consistent! Dogs are smart, but even they get confused if you overindulge them one minute and scold them the next.
Always Be Prepared
To be a dog owner is to expect the unexpected. This includes making arrangements if you have to be away for extended periods of time. Finding a friendly neighbor or dog walker isn’t always ideal for everyday situations, either, so you’ll want be sure your dog is as comfortable as possible when you can’t be at home.
Making sure your dog has plenty of food and water is one of the most important ways to keep them happy and healthy. If you’re away from home during the day, consider a smart pet fountain to make sure your pup has plenty of H2O. This PetSafe Drinkwell fountain holds 2 gallons and will keep the water fresh all day long.
Tip: Make sure your dog’s food is always put away and in a safe place (treats, too!). Otherwise you may find yourself coming home to a floor full of kibble.
Having a dog can be an amazing and rewarding experience, even in a small apartment. Always remember that your dog’s happiness and health are dependent on you, which is why being prepared is one of the best things you can do to give your new best friend the home they deserve. That way, you can both be happy!