People often think you need a yard to have a dog. Or a house. Can you have a dog in an apartment or is it not fair to the dog?
Mr. N lived in houses with yards for all his life before we adopted him. He had no trouble making the transition to apartment life. Granted, he is not a big dog but he has plenty of energy and stamina. His favorite dog buddies include a Border Collie, a Cattle Dog and a Giant Schnauzer and he has no trouble keeping up… and often wears them out.
There are plenty of dogs in our neighborhood who almost never leave their yard and house. In comparison, Mr. N is out and about with me every day and he goes for hikes, training sessions, various dog-friendly outings and errands with me.
In order to keep everyone happy with apartment life, we utilize training/mental stimulation, daily exercise, dog daycare (in the past), play dates and dog parks.
Key components to having a dog in an apartment
Training and Mental Stimulation
Mental stimulation is key for having a happy, well-behaved dog. Mr. N has food puzzles and to keep him occupied in the house. And we do a lot of clicker training and shaping and constantly work on his trick repertoire. Dog sports are also an excellent way to give your dog a mental workout and we’ve tried several. In the city, we have access to Treibball, dock diving, agility, freestyle, rally, obedience, drafting, lure coursing, nose work, Barn Hunt, flyball, disc and more.
Training is also essential to making sure your dog can handle living in close quarters with other people and animals and maintaining a cordial relationship with your neighbors and/or landlord.
Rain or shine, we go out. In fact, Mr. N has persevered through weather that stopped the Post Office from delivering. Daily exercise keeps the dogs fulfilled, provides socialization and makes the humans move and get fresh air as well. If leashed walks are not enough for your dog, there’s the option of biking with them or taking them for urban hikes.
Dog Walkers and Dog Daycare
One of the perks of living in an urban environment is the array of readily available dog services. Within a few blocks of our place, we have a dog daycare, several dog walkers, and people that will watch your dog during the day through services like Rover. In Portland, there are shuttles that will take your dog to and from daycare and dog walking services that specialize in running with your dog or hiking with your dog.
Dogs are everywhere in the city making it much easier to arrange play dates. Once you find a dog that suits your dog’s play style, you can sit back and supervise and let them work off energy on each other. Mr. N has play dates with dogs from various parts of the city ranging from the other side of town to a neighbor on the same block.
If your dog has the appropriate temperament, dog parks are a good way to let off some steam. Mr. N is tiny so we frequent dog parks during off-hours when they’re almost empty and leave at the first sign of trouble. There are also dog parks with separate small or shy dog areas.
Do you have a dog in an apartment? How do you manage?