Can Dogs Live in Apartments?

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Densely populated cities have seen a rise in apartment living, which has its benefits. This style of living offers a safe haven for those living on their own plus there are no lawns to mow and the landlord takes care of the maintenance. What happens, though, if you decide you want a dog? 

Some apartment blocks have rules and regulations about keeping pets. Before you go the shelter or call a breeder, check out what you can or can’t do. The next phase is to consider what breed or size of dog is best-suited to apartment living. If you’re moving from the country to an apartment on the seventh floor, you might need a few tips for a smooth transition.

Want to know more? Grab a coffee and read on.

Signs Your Dog Does - or Doesn't - Like Living in an Apartment

Dogs are relatively cruisy creatures that adapt well to living arrangements and can live happily in a tiny house or apartment. They are family members who feel a deep connection to their guardian, with a “wherever you go, I go”- kind of attitude. Some apartment complexes have a “no dog policy” but if you’re new digs check out fine, it’s time to get settled.

Chazzy your cute, tiny Chihuahua doesn’t seem too fussed about the move and takes his time sniffing out the new pad. The next day you’re off to work, leaving Chaz alone.

Returning home, you’re met by the apartment manager who tells you Chazzy has been barking up a storm. This surprises you as there was never a complaint at your last home. Once you get inside, the mess greets you right away. Chazzy has been busy while you were at work, digging up the carpet and rearranging the décor. He’s also gone to the bathroom on the bedroom floor and chewed your new red shoes. Chaz has been going hard all day. He whimpers as you approach, pacing back and forth, his ears are back and he’s drooling all over the floor.

Your wee boy's had a testing day, feeling lonely and contained. In his old home, he had a garden he could access and friendly neighbors who also had dogs. One of them used to walk Chaz while you were at work.

Apartment living with a dog brings challenges of its own. Some dogs are not suited, bringing trouble to your door. Chihuahua’s are super-cute pups but they can yap and yap until someone is likely to complain. When choosing a dog to live with you in an apartment, make sure it's a good fit.

The Basenji barely barks and grows at about 18 inches in height, or then there’s the French Bulldog, who won’t need a ton of walkies and rarely barks without a reason. Dachshunds make great apartment dogs along with Japanese Chins, Pugs, and Bulldogs, who all love to laze around. You might be surprised to know a Greyhound is suited to high rise living, as when they are not chasing rabbits, they like to crash on the sofa.

Tired, happy pups are also quiet dogs - that treat their den with respect!

Body Language

Here are signs your dog is not thrilled about moving into an apartment:
  • Barking
  • Wag tail
  • Pacing
  • Whimpering
  • Ears back

Other Signs

Here are more signs your dog is still adjusting to living in an apartment:
  • Acting Confused
  • Peeing or Pooping on the Floor
  • Destructive Behavior
  • Scratching at the Door

The History of Dogs and Apartments

Originally, dogs were wolves that lived in wide-open spaces, until a species called man walked into their territory. This altered evolution all around as a two-legged primate took charge. Wolves were suddenly on the back foot in their own domain, as man hunted the wolf’s prey. Domestication began and dogs of all breeds were created.

When you think that pretty Pomeranian lying in their bed was once a wolf in the wild, you get a perspective of how far dogs have come. We, as humans, altered the evolutionary trail by inspiring the wolf to change.

Dogs have lived in confined areas throughout history, with the discerning Japanese Chin residing in luxury within the confines of the Japanese Imperial Palace. It is thought they were originally bred by Buddhists monks to live in churches, making these stylish samurais, ideal for apartment living.

Ancient-Origins highlight the magical life dogs lived in the Chinese Forbidden City. These palatial Pekinese were adored by the Emperor and Empress during the Ming and Quing Dynasties. They lived in posh pavilions where Eunuchs’ catered to their every woof.

The pretty, petite Maltese is believed to be the most ancient of toy breeds and a popular companion of Roman ladies and British royals in Elizabethan times. This family-friendly pup is well suited to apartment living for both size and temperament.

Times have changed and dogs are not always welcome in city apartments or other rental properties. Land-space in the past made homes a little further apart, so if the dog barked, it wasn’t seen as such a big deal. In fact, some thought a dog in someone’s backyard, was a deterrent to intruders in the neighborhood.  

If your dream is apartment living with a companion dog, choose your pooch wisely and make sure they are never left too long on their own.

The Science of Dogs in Apartments

Many dog owners moving to an apartment feel it won’t be fair on the dog. They had a nice backyard in the other house, so how will they adjust to a tiny apartment with a balcony?

Guess what? A study carried out on dogs in the backyard and what they get up to has come as a surprise to many dog owners. “G R Dog Adventures,” reported GPS tracking units were attached to the dogs, with video cameras placed around the yard. It turns out our mushy mutts sit or lie around, waiting for us to return. The illusion that dogs do a gym workout in the backyard while we are away is just that - an illusion. Apart from the odd bathroom break, these dogs did pretty much nothing.

How many pet guardians when moving to a home consider the importance of a garden area for their dog? Looks like this is not essential and gives a huge boost to apartment living being okay. It seems exercise is synonymous with their owners taking part.

If you leave your dog alone in the backyard or apartment, the results are going to be the same - a super-bored pup who's been waiting for the guardians to get home. Dogs in the backyard can bark 'til the cows come home, and so can Miss Maltese if she doesn’t have interaction of any kind. 

This makes one think whether a big dog could cut it in a high rise. The answer is YES, as pointed out by the director of animal behavior and training at spcaLA. “Rover,” reported her two dogs, a Rottweiler and an Australian Cattle Dog, were used to plenty of space living on a farm before their pet mom moved to a California high rise.

Treat dispensing toys, treasure hunts, and a walker who came to take them out was the start of evolving her pups to feel comfortable in a 500-square-foot apartment. As a trainer, she has her eye on the exercise ball and recommends agility and even Pilates for pets. Other ideas were turning on the TV or radio to block out apartment living noise while curbing the bark with basic commands and toys they can hold in their mouth.

Training Tips for Apartment Dogs

If you're considering moving into an apartment and want to bring the dog – NO problem! It’s just a matter of adjustment for both you and your pup. Whatever your dog is feeling, you might be too, especially if you’re last home was bigger with a garden. You won’t be able to sing along with Celine Dion, the stereo turned up to the max - your dog howling, as you try to hit the high notes.

Things you both did before are probably not allowed, so it’s time to look at the positives and make changes to suit how you live. We’ve cut to the chase with barking, the one thing that will get you kicked out - plus making sure your pup's not lonely or starts to destroy your new pad.

You can have a local sitter come in for a couple of days or consider a trip to doggy daycare if that’s not enough. Plenty of toys to play with and a place, or crate they can feel safe will also help. Dog-walkers are another great option, making your sure your pooch gets their daily dose of exercise. Once you get home, its walk time, which is a great way for you both to bond - and maybe even meet other dog-lovers.

If the foot traffic that passes your door causes your pup to bark, tell them to “leave-it,” then offer a reward.  You will have to repeat the exercise and if you can, get help from the neighbors to instigate the sound.

There’s one major issue that every apartment dweller with a dog has to face. What do you do when your Bichon wants to visit the bathroom and you’re 10 floors up? You could try a litter box and train your fluffy adult - as you would a puppy - to go that way. If you’re a bit late home, there won’t be a surprise on the rug.

Safety Tips for Dogs in Apartments

  • Never leave them alone for too long.
  • Hire a walker or sitter.
  • Take them to doggy daycare once or twice a week.
  • Dog-proof the apartment and balcony.
  • Check furniture can't fall on or hurt your pup.
  • Invest in electrical output guards and power-chord protectors.
  • Do an apartment check to make sure your dog is safe when you leave.

We Want to Hear How Your Pooch Does in an Apartment!