Sweet black and white French Bulldog Lying on a grey apartment sofa

Apartment Living for You and Your Dog Can Work Well!

Last updated on August 27th, 2023 at 05:21 pm

Are you a dog lover who currently lives in an apartment? Perhaps you want to adopt a dog, but you have been waiting to move into a house with a yard before doing so. Yet, you may worry that this move will never happen due to the cost, your work commute, or because you really love your apartment. Apartment dwelling in a large city can often be the most ideal home due to its location and access to shops and transportation. Even so, you may long for canine companionship and really want to bring a new furry friend into your home.

The good news is that you can raise a dog in an apartment! But you will need to consider several things before adoption, such as the size and disposition of the dog. You will also have to make a commitment to take your dog on daily walks. Additionally, try to locate a nearby park or another place for some additional exercise.

With a little planning and preparation you can keep your apartment and have your dog too!

Things to Consider Prior to Adopting a Dog to Live in Your Apartment

  1. Are you willing to take your dog outside each day for a minimum of 2-4 walks?
  2. What floor do you live on and how far is it from street access?
  3. How easy is it to go outside? Do you have an elevator or a lot of stairs to climb? (Really critical for puppies during training!)
  4. You may need pet insurance or a personal liability umbrella in case of damage to the apartment or injury to other people.
  5. If you plan to let your dog use your patio for potty breaks or just to get fresh air, make sure your dog cannot fall or jump off.
  6. How soundproof are your apartment or condo walls? Most dogs bark at least a little and your neighbors may hear him.
  7. Does your lease allow for pets? If so, does the lease require a pet deposit?
  8. Do you have a nearby city park or dog park where your dog can periodically get some additional exercise?
  9. If you work long days, consider a dog walker or find a neighbor or friend for midday breaks and walks.
  10. If you have a cat, you may need a little more space to orient them. This may include putting them in separate rooms for a while as they get used to each other.
  11. Make sure you have a good place for a patio or indoor pee pad, if you have to be out a lot.
  12. Keep a stash of emergency supplies in a closet for natural disasters (click here to read more).
  13. Provide your dogs with small toys, balls, chewy bones to play with or chase around the apartment for entertainment. (See my recommended toy products).

The most important considerations are to make sure your apartment has enough space for you and our pet(s). You will want to consider how convenient your access to the outside is for walks and daily potty breaks. You will also want to make sure that dogs are allowed in your unit; and also ensure that your new dog will not become a nuisance for your neighbors. Most dogs will bark or whine at least a little at various times, especially when left alone. Some more than others.

Access to Outside for Walks and Breaks

When I lived in an apartment many years ago, I raised a medium sized Beagle. Fortunately, we lived on a bottom floor apartment with a small walled-in concrete patio. So, when I left for short periods, I could sometimes put my dog out on the patio when she was a puppy. But this was only during fair weather and never when it was blazing hot, cold, or rainy. I was a student, so I could come home every 3-4 hours to take her for walks. And, the patio was convenient and safe since we were on the ground floor.

But if you live in a high rise, you may have a long ride down on the elevator or worse yet, a long walk down many flights of stairs and then back up again! And when a dog has to go, she has to go! Dogs can be trained to get used to a schedule for potty breaks, but like humans, nature sometimes calls at unusual times. So just be prepared to take them outside at least 2-4 times a day for breaks, fresh air, and a chance to sniff around outside. Dogs need the stimulation of the outside environment just like we need to read the news each day. See my post A Dog’s Newspaper about how dogs catch up each day on what is going on in their world!

Make sure you locate the nearest local park, beach, or dog park, and treat your dog to a more extensive outing at least a couple of times or more per week. This will really help satisfy his need for stimulation and additional exercise.

If you have a patio, a ground floor is great. But a balcony can also work for brief outings. Just do not leave your dog unattended, especially if on a higher floor. Your dog could jump over the railing, get stuck, or even fall through an opening. And of course you need to consider the weather. If you do need to leave your dog outside for a short period unattended, connect his leash to a body harness and something away from the edge of the patio. Never connect a dog’s leash to his collar and a short railing. A dog could try to jump off and get hung. That would be tragic!

You can also purchase a dog potty tray with artificial grass for your patio or bathroom of your apartment. I really like the LLOOBANI Fake Grass Potty Tray which you can purchase from Amazon. You can also get dog pee pads for puppies. Amazon Basics Pee Pads has a pretty economical box of pee pads for training puppies or in emergencies for adult dogs. (These are affiliate links.)

For more information be sure to see my post about Dogs and Litter Boxes.

You should also consider what your neighborhood sidewalk area is like. Preferably your walk around the block will offer some shade, trees and shrubs which will provide a place for your dog to sniff and relieve himself. Make sure you do not walk your dog on extremely hot pavement. This can burn their paws. So, choose the time of day when it is not too hot or full of ice in the winter. You can also purchase little paw booties to protect their feet.

Best Dog Breeds for Apartment Living

You many wonder if a particular type of dog is better suited for living in an apartment. As it turns out, several types of dogs can live very well in a condo or apartment depending upon the breed.

There are many things to consider when adopting a dog for apartment living. Size, of course, is a big consideration. Make sure you have enough space for you and your dog and a potty tray if needed. And, if you already have a dog or cat, they will need a little more space so they can be properly oriented to one another and separated if needed.

Personally, I would probably always opt for a small to medium sized dog in an apartment. But surprisingly, some larger breeds which do not need a lot of exercise, can do quite well in an apartment. Personality and disposition are also critical factors. There are many medium and large dogs that have mellow personalities and are happy with a couple of walks per day. A small dog may seem ideal since he can run around the apartment for exercise. But many small dogs also have high energy and and can be very yappy which will drive your neighbors nuts!

Pugs and French Bulldogs are often good choices for apartments since they like to sleep a lot and are very happy, easy-going dogs. But surprisingly, Great Danes, Greyhounds, and Mastiffs can be great apartment dogs due to their mellow disposition. Contrary to common belief, they actually don’t need a lot of exercise but just some occasional sprints in the dog park. Petfinder.com has a great article about dogs who do well in apartments.

Herding and working dogs probably are not the best pets for apartments. They have a lot of energy and need a lot of exercise. However, even with these types of dogs, you may be able to manage if you can provide them with outings and good runs at a local dog park. See my post, How to Raise a Cattle Dog in a Townhouse.

Other Apartment Owner’s Experiences of Raising Dogs

“If you want a dog, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small studio or a huge house. They only want to be loved and give you twice the love they receive. Just train them properly!”
Caro Ferrando

I currently live in a townhouse. I have a small backyard, but I am very close to my neighbors on either side. My backyard is mostly patio with a 4 foot perimeter for plants, trees, and redwood bark that my dogs use for their potty breaks. I adopted two 8 year old sisters 3 years ago who are an interesting pug and cattle dog mix. They are medium sized dogs with a lot of energy. I was mostly concerned about space so they could run around a lot. My patio seems large enough for them to run around, play fetch, and check out plants, sounds, and critters each day in-between walks to local parks or the beach.

But what I did not anticipate was the characteristic high-pitched barking and howling of their cattle dog DNA! One dog is more like a pug with an easy going personality and a limited bark. But the other one is very much like a typical cattle dog who needs to guard her territory and bark to high heaven! This can be very annoying for both me and my neighbors, so I have had to work hard to keep her quiet.

I make sure that I take them for walks daily, and I have had to limit their access to the backyard by closing off their doggie door when I am not home to monitor them. I have also worked with trainers to discourage and distract them from barking at every little noise. My dogs have been a lot of work, but I love them and we have been able to live harmoniously together in our townhouse!

When I raised my Beagle from a pup into adulthood in an apartment, we only had a small patio so going for walks twice a day was mandatory. I actually was able to teach my Beagle not to howl or bark. But I had to keep the drapes closed when I was gone, and I worked with her using positive incentives every day. We did not have a lot of money and I was a college student. So, we did not tell our landlord right away that we had adopted a puppy to avoid the pet deposit. I will now guiltily confess, that we actually got away with this for several months. But eventually the manager spotted the dog and we had to pay up! But that is a testimony to how well the training worked to discourage barking and howling.

I ran a survey on the Facebook group, “Dog Lover’s Community” for five consecutive days about members experience in raising dogs in apartments. The group has 61.3K members and features adorable pictures and comments. Here are the results of the survey:

Have you raised a dog in an apartment?Yes13
Would you do it again?Yes11
What size/breed of dog did you raise in an apartment?Medium sized stray dog; Jack Russell/Foxie mix 2
Comment:“If you want a dog, it doesn’t matter if you live in a small studio or a huge house. They only want to be loved and give you twice the love they receive. Just train them properly!” Caro Ferrando
Comment:“A jack russell/foxie–He is a rescue and has some anxiety issues but he is pretty chill and I take him for 2 walks a day, plus he has a doggie door to the balcony where he likes to sunbathe and people watch.”
Nicole “Manny” Manning

Other Considerations

Georgia and Charlotte napping in our townhouse living room.

According to Apartments.com, over 34% of families now living in rental units and over 70% of Americans own pets. They suggest that renters should check to see if their renters insurance covers pets. If not, a separate pet insurance policy or liability umbrella policy may be helpful. When I raised my sweet Beagle in an apartment, I kept her in the bedroom for short periods when I went out using a simple, child’s see-through gate. The gate worked, but my Beagle, Brandy, tried to dig underneath it to get out! Of course all she accomplished was to tear up the carpet, which we later had to pay quite a bit to replace.

Apartments.com also suggests that it is helpful if your apartment management and complex is pet friendly rather than just pet tolerant. Pet-friendly neighbors and managers are less likely to get upset if your dog barks sometimes. Pet-friendly complexes will also have grassy areas and perhaps even doggie bags and disposal containers on the property. A few large complexes can sometimes feature small enclosed dog parks as well. Many apartments, however, limit the size and number of pets allowed. So be sure to check. For more information about adopting a dog see my post, Everything You Need to Know About Adopting a Rescue Dog.

If you enjoy your apartment and neighbors, chances are, your dog will too. If your apartment home feels friendly, warm, and suits your key needs, there may be no need to move when you adopt your new furry friend. Just plan ahead, consider the best dog for yourself, and check with your landlord regarding rules and deposits ahead of time. Then you will be ready to give your new adopted dog her wonderful “forever” home!

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