If you are currently living in an apartment with a dog, or are considering doing so, there are a number of things you can do to make your existence together happier. First, of course, you’ll want to adopt a dog with the right energy level and needs for your lifestyle. If you are going to be away from your home a lot, make sure your dog’s emotional needs are being taken care of, whether that be through employing a professional dog walker, sending your dog to a properly vetted daycare, or adopting a companion for your dog. Of course, not all dogs get along well with others of their own kind, or are happy in a doggy daycare situation.
Exercise is incredibly important if you are living in an apartment with a dog.
An under-exercised dog may become loud, destructive, and unhappy, so make sure you adopt a dog with an energy level that fits in with your level of activity. Breeds like the Australian Shepherd, German Shepherd, Australian Cattle Dog, Husky, Weimaraner, Dalmatian, Vizsla, German shorthaired pointer, Belgian Malinois, and Border Collie all need vigorous exercise every day. Some of these dogs need several hours of intense exercise daily, even if you are tired or the weather isn’t great. Are you prepared for that sort of commitment? We talk more about this subject, as well as how to determine if your dog isn’t getting enough exercise, in this blogpost: How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?
Barking can be a problem if you are living in an apartment with a dog, especially if the walls are thin.
It’s important to discern the reason for your dog’s barking. Your dog may be barking from boredom, and may need more exercise and mental stimulation. If you don’t have time to provide this for your dog, consider hiring a professional dog walker. Dogs also bark because of separation anxiety, an issue which may require the intervention of a properly-credentialed dog trainer to remedy.
A big issue, though, has to do with noises in the environment. Dogs can often hear things that humans cannot, and a person walking by on the street outside may cause your dog to bark. Often, this barking is due to fear of whatever is outside, which is part of the reason why shock collars for barking are not a good idea. Make your dog more comfortable in his or her own home by blocking out these noises. Consider a white noise machine for this issue, or even the White Noise phone app connected to a speaker using bluetooth. Stove vents can also create a white noise effect.
Hiding visual cues can be an important step if you are living in an apartment with a dog.
If your dog likes to perch by the window or door and bark at people walking by, consider closing the blinds or blocking off that part of the room, and provide puzzle toys to keep your dog occupied instead. If your dog tends to part blinds or scratch at them even when you close them, consider a window guard like the Kidco Mesh Window Guard, which can be found on Amazon and isn’t visible from the outside of the building.
Depending on the layout of your apartment, baby gates can also be used to block off portions of the home that may trigger your dog to bark, and some are even available in an extra tall size. You can use them to block off parts of your home during potty training, and they can also come in handy when you are teaching your dog not to jump on you. How? They prevent your pup from making rewarding physical contact with you until her or she has calmed down. Baby gates are also great for safety reasons. If your child doesn’t close the door all the way or maintenance accidentally opens the wrong door, your dog can’t slip out and escape.
And of course, there’s always crate training.
A crate can prevent your dog from whipping herself into a frustrated, reactive frenzy at the window, and can thus lead to a happier dog. Crates can also prevent your dog from destroying your home and ingesting harmful foreign objects. Many people unknowingly rush through crate training, crate their dog for excessively long periods of time, or crate a very under-exercised dog, and conclude that their dog simply does not like being crated. With the correct approach, dogs can be trained to regard the crate as a happy and safe place, as well as a refuge from frightening things going on outside the home.
If you are living in an apartment with a dog and want that security deposit back, then provide plenty for your dog to chew on!
Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs, and it provides them with great pleasure. Keep your dog safe and happy by providing appropriate chew toys, and experiment to see what your dog likes best. Some dogs are content to play gently with stuffed animal toys, but many of them really need something they can make progress on over time.
For heavy chewers, consider a black Kong, which are made for heavier chewing than red Kongs. Stuff it with peanut butter or Honest Kitchen and freeze it for a treat your dog can work on for a while. Steer clear of rawhide chews, which can cause choking and digestive blockages. Provide your dog with a large variety of toys he or she absolutely loves, and consider saving a few “special” toys that are just for when you leave the house. Toys can even be rotated so that those that haven’t been seen for a long time will seem new again. Make sure never to leave out toys or other objects that could present a hazard if swallowed.
It is possible to be happy while living in an apartment with a dog. Try some of the recommendations listed above, and with any luck, you, your dog, and your neighbors will all be much happier. Good luck!