Perhaps cats are more suited to apartment living, but that doesn't stop the thousands of apartment-dwelling dog owners from successfully raising their furry friends in small spaces anyway. The wonderful thing about pets is that if you're willing to work with them, they are happy to adapt. All it takes to raise a dog, even an energetic and playful one, in an apartment is the right level of consideration, preparation, and training. Your good natured pooch wants to live happily with you, your neighbors, and your property manager. You simply need to give them the opportunity. Here are a few great tips from experienced downtown dog owners on how to keep your pet happy in and out of the apartment.
1) Go for a Lot of Walks
Dogs have a reputation for being destructive toward apartments but this is often the result of not enough attention, play, and exercise rather than actual aggression against the property itself. The first and most important key to taking care of your apartment puppy is to make sure they get plenty of exercise outside the home. Take them on at least two long walks a day and do whatever you can to allow them some time to really tire themselves running around after balls, frisbees, or other dogs in a park. If you go for runs, take your dog with you so you both can get a good workout. When your dog has had the chance to run and play, they will be less nervous and destructive at home.
2) Protect the Dog Space
If you let them, a dog will happily take over the house, roaming as they please, sleeping in your favorite chair, and drooling on the carpet. If you're worried about the integrity of the floor where your dog plays and spends their time, try designating a specific room or corner of the living room where they sleep and play with their toys. Then, here's the kicker, put a plastic protective mat down under the whole area. You can then throw an old rug and the dog bed over the mat and the space will be both comfy for your pooch and safe from harm. If you feed them in a separate area, put a mat under their food and water bowls as well.
3) Opportunities to "Go"
One of the biggest challenges of dog apartment life is where and when they go to the bathroom, as you don't have a big yard to take care of this problem. Set a reliable schedule of opportunities that your dog can get used to, like your two long walks a day and maybe another short one just before bed. You might also consider one of those fake patches of grass for the patio or balcony and a removable dog door where possible to serve their needs overnight and while you're at work.
4) Build Your Own Pet Deposit
As well behaved as your dog may be, there's a decent chance they will eventually scratch or stain something in the apartment. Rather than risking your entire pet deposit and a bad mark on your renter's history, make sure to have some cleaning funds set aside to make sure you're ready to take care of this eventuality. You'd do the same if they were a toddler instead, so why not just be prepared?
5) Introduce Them to Everyone
If your dog has a tendency to get nervous or uncomfortable with the random noises and activity of apartment life, your best bet is to introduce them to absolutely everyone and everything available. Take them up and down the hallway a few times and let them sniff any neighbors that are willing to meet your dog pleasantly so they can get used to each other.
Dogs can understand and even live quite happily in apartment life, you just have to help them get used to it. Remember to give them plenty of exercise and opportunities to go outside and be prepared to clean up after them even if they are fairly tidy creatures. If you do it right, your landlord and property manager will appreciate all your hard work.