The housing downturn made renting instead of owning a popular choice for many Americans. Many families have turned to smaller spaces to save money. And in terms of roommates, one of the most agreeable cohabitants can be of the canine variety – they don’t steal your groceries or borrow your clothes, and they can be a constant source of companionship and unconditional love! Living in an apartment is possible with a dog, given a little foresight and planning. Here are some considerations when downsizing with your pooch, or adopting a dog into your current apartment situation.
1. Be realistic
There are some breeds and temperaments of dogs that are not well-suited to apartment life. Dogs that are very high energy, such as a Labrador or Border collie, may really struggle being confined to a small space. Often the frustration of being cooped up and bored translates into destructive behaviors like chewing.
Especially large breeds won’t fit well in tiny spaces, either. Take an honest look at your main living areas and map out space for a kennel, dog bed, food dishes and toys. You may discover you’ll be better off with a 20-lb. mutt than the Chesapeake Bay retriever you’ve always wanted.
2. Communicate with your landlord
Always talk to your landlord about existing pets when searching for an apartment or before adopting a pet. Some landlords will have specific requirements about what size and breeds of dogs are acceptable – sometimes for legal reasons. There will most likely be an extra pet deposit for post-move out cleaning or any damage Fido might cause. Whatever you agree upon, read your lease thoroughly before signing.
It’s not realistic to try and sneak a dog into a no-pet apartment. Eventually, the landlord or a neighbor will discover your pup and then you’ll be in a real bind, forced to move or give up your beloved dog.
3. Keep your dog current on vaccinations and parasite preventives
This is really important since most apartment complexes have shared outside grounds. If children and other people are using the common yard areas, your pet needs to be free of parasites and vaccinated in order to prevent parasitic and infectious diseases. In addition, in the rare case someone accuses your dog of biting, proof of vaccination will be paramount.
4. Be courteous to neighbors
Be cognitive of the fact that many people will be sharing a small space. A dog that barks constantly will not be favorably received in an apartment setting. Consult with your veterinarian regarding behavioral training if your dog is a barker. Citronella collars can be an effective and humane way to prevent barking if used correctly.
5. Be prepared to devote time every day to your dog
A dog that lives in a small space without a fenced yard will require daily leash time, probably more than a few times a day to go potty and stretch out those four legs. Be sure to set aside time for activity every day, and recognize that leash walks will be part of your daily routine, even in the rain and snow. Consider having a professional dog walker come by while you are at work to squeeze in a little more activity.
6. Socialize and desensitize
Apartments can be noisy and busy. They are often located in city areas with traffic, bicycles and other animals. Don’t assume your dog will be comfortable with all of these new things. You may have to introduce her to these urban changes slowly and in a safe and calm manner for her to be comfortable.
7. Prepare for house training
House training a puppy in an apartment setting can be a little more challenging, especially if you’re in a high rise apartment complex. Puppies need to go outside very frequently in order to be trained. If you’re on the fourth floor, that’s going to translate into a lot of elevator trips or some serious stair work-outs! Consider using “piddle pad” training at first until he can go longer between urination, or consider adopting an older dog that has already been trained.
Owning a dog takes commitment and responsibility regardless of your living situation. However, sharing an apartment with your pup will require a little extra planning and consideration in order to keep her happy, healthy and safe. Once those needs are met, a four-legged roommate can bring daily smiles and pleasure to any apartment dweller.