Apartment living can have many advantages: low maintenance, close to work and entertainment, and ease of changing residence. But, if you’re a dog owner, apartment living can present some difficulties. You probably won’t have your own yard for him to play in, and your inside space may be somewhat compact.
However, with enough exercise, stimulation and preventative measures, the difficulties are easy to overcome. Here are some doggone good tips to help you and your pup succeed at apartment living, together.
The first part of keeping a dog happy and healthy inside your apartment is to optimize her experiences outside.
- Most dogs will do best with walks twice a day and a good run off the leash at least once a week. Active breeds may need more.
- Vary the routes for your daily walks to open her up to stimulating new smells and experiences. You could also schedule playdates with other dogs in your neighborhood.
- If you tend to be absent for long hours, consider a doggie daycare or perhaps a midday visit from a professional dog walker.
Boredom and pent-up energy can only lead to one thing: trouble, such as your pup chewing on your favorite pair of boots, your sofa or the floorboards – there goes your deposit.
- When you only have a few minutes to spare, or the weather outside is frightful, indoor games can provide good mental stimulation. Is there a safe place to play tug-of-war? Can you roll a ball down a staircase or hallway?
- Keep a variety of chew toys in rotation. Keep half in a toy basket that he can dig through when you’re gone. Keep the rest hidden away and gradually rotate them through his basket so that there’s always something new.
- Puzzle toys can keep your dog occupied long after you’ve walked out the door. Some are as simple as a hollow toy you stuff with peanut butter. More complex toys stimulate his sense of smell and challenge him to figure out how to open doors to uncover hidden treats.
How much room does your dog need to roam while you’re out of the house? Enough not to feel cramped, but not so much that she can get into trouble.
- Even in a small apartment, your dog should have her own place, with enough room to stretch out, a comfortable bed or blanket, her favorite toys and access to her food and water bowls.
- Put latches or clasps on cupboard and closet doors to keep your pup out of the trash can, laundry basket and dangerous chemicals.
- If needed, keep whole rooms off-limits with dog gates or other blockades, especially if you’re not ready to trust her around carpets and nice furniture.
Your pup’s size and level of energy will affect how well she adapts to apartment living, but active dogs can still thrive if you provide enough exercise and stimulation, as well as a comfortable and safe environment. Many big breeds can even be more sedate than smaller ones.
With the right approach for your pup, there’s no reason you and your dog can’t be perfectly happy calling an apartment home.
Top image by Flickr user Kazuko Oguma used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.