Living in an apartment may be easy and convenient but sharing a smaller living space with a dog presents some unique challenges. Depending on your dog’s breed, your canine roommate may need special attention to keep them content in a small space. If you plan to scale down and have a pup, you might wonder how to help your dog adapt to the change?
Here are some things you can do to make your dog happy in an apartment:
When you present your dog with a change in the environment, it may unsettle them, and you need to help make the change as positive as possible. You need to be patient and ensure that you adopt routines and procedures into place to keep your furry sidekick from being stressed and anxious. Please read on to discover some of the best ways to keep your dog smiling in a smaller spot.
1. Choose and Make Your Apartment Dog-Friendly
Whether you live in an apartment already or have yet to choose one, you have to make sure that the place welcomes dogs. Aside from that, you have to decide whether there will be sufficient space.
You should also consider the proximity of your apartment to:
- Dog-friendly walks.
- Dog parks.
- Pet supply stores.
- Veterinary clinics.
Be Aware of Your Chosen Apartment Restrictions on Pets
First off, you have to make sure that your apartment allows dogs. Each apartment complex adopts its own rules on prohibiting pets. Some would consent but have restrictions - for instance, they may only allow smaller dogs.
If you’re already living in an apartment and planning to get a dog, make sure to check your apartment's rules and guidelines first. Meanwhile, if you have a dog and are planning to transfer to an apartment with them, make sure to choose a dog-friendly apartment that’s near parks and clinics.
Some perks come with choosing a dog-friendly place. More often than not, other apartment owners also have their pets that may form a bond with your own. This canine company can make transitioning easier and more fun for them.
These people would also be more likely to understand your dog's problems or wouldn’t judge you and your pet in the hallway.
Also, pet-friendly apartments may end up being more expensive than regular apartments. They may account for possible damages that a dog may cause during your stay. You’ll want to be prepared for the financial responsibilities.
Make Your Space and Furniture Dog-Friendly
Once you have selected an apartment and are about to move in, it's time to ensure that the apartment space itself and everything in it is dog-proof.
Choose Minimal or Inexpensive Furniture
You might want to think about getting minimal or inexpensive furniture. Why so?
Especially when your pet is not yet fully-trained or can get cranky, they might take it out on the furniture - chewing, scratching, or accidentally damaging them. There may also be incidental peeing or other unavoidable misadventures.
Getting a dog means understanding that sometimes these things happen. Hence, you might as well prepare for them. After all, a cheap rug getting spoiled would be less heartbreaking than a thousand-dollar carpet.
If you have expensive furniture or items, think about placing them in your room or somewhere inaccessible instead. You might also consider training your pup not to sit on those pieces.
Lock Cabinets or Make Them Inaccessible
Make sure your cabinets are locked or inaccessible. That would give your pets fewer places to get curious about and fewer damages incurred. It would also keep harmful substances out of their reach. This tip would be especially helpful for the cabinet where you store treats and dog food.
Make Use of Gates to Teach Boundaries
Baby gates are also helpful in keeping your dog in or away from specific spaces. For instance, if you prefer them to stay away from the kitchen or your room for some reason, a gate would establish a boundary.
Gates are also helpful for when you leave the apartment and need them to stay in a particular room while you’re away.
Keep Them Safe From Balconies or High Places
If you and your dog stay in an apartment some floors up, ensure that they won’t accidentally fall off high places. You may lock the door to the balcony when you’re not there. Also, look after tiny dogs or puppies as they can slide through stairs or balcony railings and fall.
Keep Harmful Objects Out of Reach
Ensure that you keep harmful objects out of your pup's reach, such as foods and plants. For instance, chocolates or medicines should be kept in cabinets or away from them. If you plan to have plants or flowers inside, make sure they’re not poisonous or toxic to dogs.
Examples of these toxic plants include:
- Tulip bulbs.
- Cycads (such as sago palm, cardboard palm).
- Lilies (such as Lily of the Valley, Peace Lily, and Calla Lily.)
2. Make Your Dog’s Corner Comfortable
Of course, your dog has to have a space or corner to call its own. You have to make sure that this place is comfortable for them and would keep them happy, even when you’re not there.
Keep the Food and Water Bowls Near
Your dog needs to eat and drink to stay alive. Hence, you should always supply your pet with fresh daily meals and water. Their food and water bowls should also be accessible and refilled on a schedule.
However, keep the main supply of food sealed away in a plastic container. Not only does it keep your pet from overeating, but it also keeps the food fresh for longer and away from pests or rodents.
Also, get to know where to get pet supplies nearby, especially food. You don’t want to get stressed out when you realize all the dog food is gone.
Make Your Dog’s Bed or Crate Comfortable
Please give them a comfortable dog bed or crate. The bed or crate should be the right size for your specific breed. This area would be their go-to space when they need rest or a break.
Also, some dogs prefer crates, especially when trained for it already, but you also have to ensure that these are comfortable for them. Smaller dogs might like smaller crates, so you might need to consider that.
Give Your Dog Safe Toys and Play With Them
Of course, you need to give your dog some toys. Make sure that these are safe and not choking hazards. You may also consider getting puzzles or other tricky games that would keep them occupied while you’re not there.
Make time to play with your pup inside your apartment! You can use toys, like a rope, and play tug-of-war. You can hide treats and make it a fun treasure hunt for them. You need to give your dog quality time to make them feel loved and assured.
3. Keep Your Dog Safe and Healthy
There have been some tips to keep your pup safe, like keeping harmful objects away and dog-proofing your space. But, to keep them truly secure, you also need to keep them healthy. With that, health services for your puppy are essential.
Find the Nearest Veterinarian or Pet Clinic
Get to know your area and find out where the nearest veterinarian or pet clinic is. If possible, consider this as a factor when choosing an apartment. You need to ensure that you have somewhere to go if there are emergencies or your dog isn’t feeling well.
It would be great to have a vet you can regularly visit for checkups or vaccinations. Keep your pets' health and vaccination records organized and accessible.
Also, consider saving money for vet visits or emergencies. Pet clinic bills can be pretty costly, and it would help you and your pet a lot if you already had money set aside for the rainy days.
4. Train Your Dog and Set a Routine
Dogs thrive with consistency. Hence, setting up a routine with them will help them adjust to their new life in the apartment. It can make your life easier and make them happy too.
You’d also need to train them for many things, like potty training, getting used to the noise, and keeping the barking to a neighbor-friendly level.
Potty Train Your Pup
You’ll need to potty train your dog. Opening the door wouldn’t lead to the great outdoors when you live in an apartment. Careful training and patience are needed to teach your pup when and where to pee and poop. Patience and a consistent routine are vital, and rather than punishing your pet for accidents, praise them when they use the correct ablution areas.
Use Fake Grass or Pee Pads
You can use fake grass or pee pads to potty train your dog. If you do, set it up in a corner far from people or food, in the bathroom, or the balcony (although one should make sure it’s safe for them to be in the balcony). Then, every time they do their business on it, reward them with a treat for positive reinforcement.
The downside with pee pads is that they might not get used to having a specific time for peeing or pooping and may do it any time they want, even when you’re not there to put away the mess immediately.
Set a Potty Schedule
A potty schedule, which can coincide with walks, would help establish a routine. It would also help them learn when they should pee and poop.
For them to learn, take them out on long walks to have time to do their business. After some time, you can make the walks shorter.
Desensitize and Train Your Dog to Keep From Barking Too Much
Living in an apartment would also mean more noise and things that may trigger or scare your dog. People talking, steps on the hallway or stairs, conversations are just some examples. Thus, you need to train your dog and desensitize them to keep them from barking too much.
Dogs that bark too much might also annoy neighbors. Thus, by desensitizing your dog, you’re helping your pup, yourself, and your neighbors, and everyone would be happier by the end of it.
Don't shout at your dog when they bark; it only enhances their behavior. Instead, reward your pup for not responding to stimuli that would generally set them off. You can have a friend mimic footsteps in the hallway to desensitize them, for example, and reward them for not barking.
Training your dog to bark less also helps when you have to leave them in the apartment alone. They wouldn’t make much noise, which would definitely earn you some points with your neighbors.
Consult With a Professional Dog Trainer
It would help to consult with a professional dog trainer or enroll your dog in a school for them to get proper training. Not only does it make apartment life easier for you, but it also helps them adjust better and be happy. A dog trainer can help them adapt to the chaos and bustle surrounding the city.
While your dog is still training, be patient with them. They’re also adapting and trying their best.
Setting the Routine
A routine would help your dog transition better to apartment life. You can establish one by making sure that you feed them and take them out regularly. Behaviors such as barking can be a symptom of frustration, and exercise is often the best cure.
Routines also help regularize their metabolism, making potty schedules easier and making a more secure and contented pup.
Also, make sure that your routine and their routine blend well together. You and your pup have to be consistent on it to work out.
5. Prepare Your Dog for When You Are Not in the Apartment
Dogs can get bored, and when they’re not stimulated enough, they can act out on your furniture, pillows, and other stuff. Soon, you'll go home to a messy apartment and broken items. Hence, you need to train and prepare your dog to behave inside your unit even when you’re not there.
Set Up Some Challenging Games or Puzzles
Challenging games or puzzles are a fun way to keep your pet active and happy while you’re out. You can get toys to hide the food inside, and they need a few minutes to half an hour to find it. This trick is quite useful when you need to go somewhere for an hour or less.
Find a Doggie Daycare or Dog Sitter
However, if you have to be gone for more than an hour, maybe half a day or the whole of it, you may also consider bringing them to doggie daycare once or twice a week. Not only would it help keep them happy and socialized with other dogs, but you also have a place you can leave them with when you go off to work.
You can also look for a dog sitter for your pet. Find someone reliable - maybe you can ask other fur parents around the area if they know one.
Use a Two-Way Camera
You can also set up a two-way camera somewhere your pup can see. There are even cameras so you can talk to them or they can see your face on the screen. Hearing your voice would help reassure them and make them less nervous being alone in the apartment.
6. Take Your Dog out Often
Dogs need to be let out for play and walk regularly, and some breeds need extra exercise time, such as Border Collies. Ensure you research the exercise requirements of your specific breed, or if you own a crossbreed, you can analyze behavioral symptoms of frustration such as barking behaviors or destructive chewing.
Exercise is the key to keeping your pet content and healthy. Not only that, but it also keeps your pet from getting bored in the apartment and prevents them from opting for destructive behaviors to release energy.
Look for a Dog Park or Places for Them to Play
Find out where the nearest dog park or dog-friendly spaces are. Your pup needs an ample, open space to run, play, and be free. Make sure to bring them there as often as possible to enjoy and meet and socialize with other dogs.
Also, consider walking them to the park, if it's near enough. It's a form of exercise for both you and your doggy. You could bring a ball, frisbee, or toy to interact with your dog in the way they love best.
Exercise or Walk Your Dog Frequently
You should ideally walk your dog every day. Twice or thrice a day is even recommended. Hence, make it a habit to walk your dog in the morning and the evening.
You can also use it as a time for them to poop and pee. However, remember to pick up and clean after your pets, as well.
Also, use a safe and comfortable leash. Although your dog may be friendly and not aggressive, it’s still a way to protect them from those that are or from people who may not be comfortable with dogs.
Play is also a form of exercise, and outdoor play is essential. As we’ve said, taking your pet to the park, lake, or any outdoor space once a week to play fetch or ball would help with their health.
You may also consider taking them on a hiking trip!
Consider Your Dog’s Energy Level
You’d also have to consider your dog's energy level when deciding how often they need to walk or exercise. Different dogs have varying levels of energy.
Labrador retrievers are very energetic animals that may need to be walked or played with more often. However, dogs like pugs or Great Danes have relatively low energy levels and may be satisfied with a walk or two every day.
Also, most low-energy dogs are often more suited to apartment living than high-energy pooches. Their nature allows them to adjust faster and better to live in relatively small spaces than other energetic canines.
Seek a Dog-Walker for Daytime Walks
A walk two or three a day may be hard to achieve when you have a tight schedule, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. You can enlist the help of dog sitters or dog walkers instead to fulfill the activity demands your pet needs.
Finding a dog walker or dog sitter is often more manageable when you live in a dog-friendly apartment. Hence, consider asking your neighbor or landlord if they know of one.
You can also enlist your neighbor's help walking your dog when you have a hectic day or week. Those with pets would be happy to lend a hand, and it would allow your pup to bond with theirs.
Make the Ride Outside Comfortable
Sometimes, the park or vet clinic can be beyond a walk's distance. Or sometimes, you and your pup need to get out, unwind, and go on a road trip. A car ride can make your dog nervous and a challenge for both of you, but it’s not impossible!
It’s crucial to keep your dog restrained in a carrier or a seat belt during the trip. It helps protect both of you from disasters when your pup gets too active. Please don’t feed them breakfast to minimize their chances of getting sick. Also, make sure to pack their essential documents, as well as food, water, and waste bags.
If you plan to bring your dog out with you often, consider investing in a good car seat! A car seat gives your pup a comfortable area to stay in during the ride, and it protects your car from dog hair, drool, and accidental puke. You won't have to worry about your seat getting scratched!
Invest in a Plush Paws Car Seat
If you want a fantastic car seat cover, check out our selection here at Plush Paws! They offer a wide variety of covers for the rear and bucket seats. For instance, we have a convertible, waterproof bench seat cover that's helpful if your dog somehow gets muddy or wet on a trip. It also has an optional hammock!
Besides the car seat covers, we also have cargo liners and door protectors for additional protection. All of our items are waterproof, non-slip, chemical-free, tear-resistant, easy to install, high quality, and have seat buckle access.
Moving into an apartment with your dog is a whole new chapter that may start with a few trials and errors. It’s essential for you to be patient and caring with your dog as they learn to adapt to the smaller space and noisier environment.
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