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Apartment life is more fun with a dog. But you'll want to consider a few factors before bringing a pup home. For starters, will the dog thrive in your small space? How dog-friendly is your apartment building? And do you know how to prepare your apartment for a dog?
Here are the necessary steps to take and decisions to make before you share your apartment with a dog.
1. Choose the Right Dog for Your Space
Before preparing an apartment for a dog, it helps to know what kind of dog you'll be bringing home. Though you may already have a specific pup in mind, it's important to consider whether the dog breed you want is well-suited for apartment living.
Size is a factor in determining suitability, but what matters more is their energy level and tendency to bark, says CertaPet. No matter how tiny they are, high-energy breeds that bark a lot aren't naturally suited to apartment living. You may be able to curb barking behavior through training and exercise, but it's a big time commitment. Be honest with yourself: Are you ready to take on that level of responsibility? If not, you may want to bring home a more laid-back breed that doesn't need a lot of exercise and won't bark at every strange noise.
Review your apartment's pet policy before bringing home a dog. Larger breeds like Great Danes and Saint Bernards tend to do well in apartments, thanks to their gentle temperaments, but they may not be allowed in your unit. Some landlords place restrictions on the size of dogs tenants can keep or outright ban certain breeds, due to perceived aggression.
Generally, the best apartment dogs are:
- Well-suited to small spaces
- Infrequent barkers
- Well-mannered and polite to strangers
- Able to climb stairs and tolerate tight elevators and stairwells
- Do well on a leash
Research different breeds and consider talking to an adoption counselor. They can help you determine if the dog you're considering would be a good fit for your apartment.
2. Develop a Plan & Getting Supplies
Once you know more about the pup you'll be bringing home, you'll need to plan for their arrival. Sharing your space with a dog may require some adjustments, so you'll want to consider:
Their age: Are you getting a puppy who'll need to be housetrained, and who's likely to chew on everything? Or, are you bringing home an older dog who's past those stages?
Their lounging habits: Will your dog be allowed on your furniture and to freely roam the apartment while you're away? Or, will you need to set up pet gates or crate your pup? Consider these options as it relates to barking too. Will the dog be more likely to bark if kenneled? What if they're free to roam, and like to bark at people or animals they can see through the window.
- Their exercise needs: Will you be home to walk your dog throughout the day? If not, will you need to hire a dog walker or place them in doggy daycare?
Answering these questions can help you determine what items you'll need for your pup's arrival. If you require a dog crate, choose one that's large enough to allow your newest family member to stand up and turn around. And don't forget the basics: food, water dishes, a leash, harness, dog bed and toys. Consider grabbing puppy training pads, especially if your apartment is carpeted, and additional dog beds if they won't be allowed on your furniture. If they're free to lounge anywhere, you can invest in washable slip covers and throws to protect your furniture.
3. Preparing Your Apartment
Once you've got the essential supplies, preparing an apartment for a dog mostly involves puppy-proofing your home, suggests Top Dog Tips.
Get down on your hands and knees and explore your home, doing your best to think like a dog as you go. Identify potential hazards, such as items that may get chewed, plants that are toxic if eaten and tight spaces where a small dog or puppy could get trapped. Move risky items out of reach or store them in cabinets with childproof safety locks. Block off access to any unsafe spaces.
Consider switching to pet-safe household cleaners, such as a homemade solution of vinegar and water. If your dog's tall enough to reach their head into the toilet, keep the lid shut when it's not in use. If you have a balcony, ensure the spaces between railings are too small for your dog to squeeze through. If they're not, consider lining the parameter of your deck with trellis panels or chicken wire, using heavy-duty zip ties to secure them.
You may want to rearrange your furniture to give your pup more space to romp, play and comfortably stretch out. If you're bringing home a puppy who's in the chewing stage, protect your chair and table legs from teeth marks by wrapping them in bubble wrap. You can also use a bitter-tasting substance purchased from a pet store to deter chewing.
Consider any plants in your apartment. Check to make sure they aren't toxic to dogs in case your new pup gets curious and decides to chew on a few leaves. Also, consider the potential for them to dig in the pot or knock it over and cause a mess.
For untrained dogs, think about anything that can be shredded: pillows, toilet paper, trash, shoes, socks, etc. While training your dog, make sure these are out of their reach so you don't come home to an unexpected disaster.
Learning how to prepare your apartment for a dog depends on several factors, including their temperament, their age and how they'll fit into your lifestyle. With these tips, you'll be prepared to make your home comfortable for any type of dog.
Jean Marie Bauhaus
Jean Marie Bauhaus is a pet lover, freelance writer and novelist. She currently lives in the Ozarks with her husband and their gaggle of four-footed dependents, where she enjoys watching a wide array of wild animals in her backyard while drinking her morning coffee.