Congratulations — you recently moved into a new apartment, you're settling in and you've made the decision to adopt a dog! So what do you need to know about the best dogs for apartment living? Size is important, but there are other factors to consider. You want to find the perfect-for-you pet, and it takes careful consideration to know just which dogs make good apartment dogs.
If you're ready to adopt, take a moment to read this guide on everything you should consider before welcoming a pup into your apartment, like a dog's personality, physical demands, energy level and breed. Not only will you end up with a pet you love, but you'll adopt one who is well-suited for your new space.
Plan Ahead and Get Permission
Living in a small space means considering the needs of a dog and your own personal needs. First, you need to verify that your apartment complex allows dogs and whether they have restrictions on size. The last thing that you want to have to do is move because they have a no dog policy, or worse, return your dog to the shelter you adopted from. Next, let's consider space: Is there enough room for two (or more)? As long as they have a place to sleep, eat and stretch, dogs need very little indoor space. However, they do need physical activity, so consider the outdoor space available to your pet, as well. Is there a local park you can take your dog to or grassy areas where you can go for a stroll?
Consider the route your pet needs to take to get outside and relieve himself. If you're living on the third floor of a triple-decker, you'll be going up and down the stairs quite a few times a day to let your dog out. While this could be a good thing for physical activity, three flights of stairs would be difficult for a pet who is prone to arthritis or has issues with his legs and hips. Similarly, large apartment buildings with elevators present an issue for a pet who uses the bathroom frequently. The time it takes to wait for an elevator and ride it to the ground level might make a pet prone to accidents — though it might help you socialize with other residents, both human and canine.
Personality and Behavior of Good Apartment Dogs
Living in small quarters isn't for every pet, and you want to spend some time with a dog before adopting him to be sure he's a good fit for your apartment. For example, dogs who are prone to barking are not the best dogs for apartment living. Your vocal pup may spend the day frustrating your neighbors while you're at work. Worse still, your pet might bark at any suspicious sound when you're home, making it hard for you to enjoy your new digs. A dog who barks incessantly might even get you evicted from your apartment.
The happiest apartment dog is one who can socialize well with other animals and humans. Since you're living in a shared building, your pet will likely come in contact with the other residents and potentially even their pets. You wouldn't want your dog snapping at another pet in the hallway or cowering in fear when a neighbor walks by him in shared spaces.
Consistent dog training can help with behavior issues like bolting from people or lunging at other dogs, but it's helpful to consider how well you can handle these needs before bringing a dog home. Similarly, an apartment dog may benefit from doggy day care for a few days a week to keep him active, provide socializing opportunities and offer a change of scenery. If day care isn't an option, consider hiring a dog walker to come exercise your pet while you're at work.
The Best Breeds for Apartment Living
You may have thought that only small breeds were the best dogs for apartment living, but apartment-dwelling dogs are best determined by their energy levels, personality and physical demands. In fact, some bigger dog breeds have low energy and can do quite well in a smaller space.
However, there are some breeds that potentially make better apartment pets than others. The American Kennel Club provides a detailed guide that explains which breeds do well living in smaller spaces. It also allows you to compare breeds as you're learning about them. Some popular breeds that made the guide include the bichon frise, French bulldog, greyhound and pug. Purebred dogs aren't the only ones who make ideal doggy roommates. The volunteers at your local shelter can introduce you to a dog who matches your personality and lifestyle. In fact, adopting a dog from a shelter is a good example of how the dog reacts to being in a small space or a kennel all day with the distraction of people and other pets as that is there daily norm in a shelter.
Adopting a dog will completely change your life and his, so put in the effort to get to know a dog before inviting him into your apartment and your future. With some simple training and accommodations, your pet will be happy to move in.
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.