Lindsay Smith
happy dog

Living in a small urban apartment can be tough for several  reasons. For one, minimal storage space requires either fewer belongings or some serious innovative thinking. For another, it’s difficult to host get-togethers in a place where only a few people can hang out comfortably.

But add a dog to the scenario, and small-apartment living becomes even more challenging. Big or small, many dogs are comfortable living in apartments, but there are still steps their owners should take every day to keep them happy and healthy.

A dog’s size and energy level can cause problems for owners who live in small spaces, but that doesn’t mean raising a dog there is impossible.So, if you’re living in a compact space with your furry friend, or you’re considering adopting a dog while living in a little studio or one-bedroom place, here are some important tips to make apartment living with your dog a dream come true.

Exercise them often

Dogs are a big time commitment. In fact, the main rule for keeping pups happy and healthy is to make sure they get regular exercise– and by regular, we mean several times daily.

exercise dogs

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While living in an apartment, your dog is somewhat confined. He or she isn’t going to have a lot of room to run around, let out energy or play. Not only can this make little Buddy feel cooped up or frustrated, but it could also cause him to let out his energy in not-so-constructive ways (like chewing up your furniture).

At the very least, dogs should get a bit of exercise twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. If you can take them jogging, running, or to the dog park, that’s even better. On top of that, dogs should have the opportunity to do some serious high-intensity exercise at least once a week.

Find a nearby dog park, a lake, or anywhere else you can play fetch or run around. Or find time each week to take him on a bike ride or a run.

See also:  How to make friends with other dog people

Near You

Know your breed

Different breeds thrive better in smaller spaces– and believe it or not, size isn’t necessarily a good indication of this. Some high-energy or noisy small dogs, including terriers, toy breeds, and beagles, may not fare so well in a small living space, whereas some lower-energy large breeds, like St. Bernards and Great Danes, can do OK.

apartment dog

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If you haven’t gotten a dog yet, do a little research on breeds to see which ones are more likely to thrive in small apartments. Keep in mind that any individual dog can have a higher or lower energy level than what’s normal for its breed and dogs with high energy are more likely to be destructive when left alone.

Create a doggie haven

Dogs find it easier to relax and wind down if they have their own space, so make Buddy his own little haven in a corner of your apartment. Put a dog bed, a few toys, and his food and water bowls in his corner to give him a place to retreat when he needs a break. Or, if he’s crate trained, make his crate as comfortable as possible.

dog haven

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This will also help protect your floors. Place a mat or rug in your dog’s temporary area where he can chew his bones and play games, this will help absorb any stains or tears. And be sure to have a towel at the door to dry off when you come in from the rain.

Visit the vet regularly

Most apartment complexes have a shared outdoor space. If other people and animals are using the common areas, your dog should be up to date on vaccinations and parasite preventatives. Also, if someone ever accuses your dog of biting them, you should have proof of current vaccinations.

visit vet regularly

Make a routine

Dogs thrive when they have a routine, especially if they can’t go outside to pee whenever they need to. Try to take your pup for a walk at the same time each morning and evening so he knows when to expect it.

How to Keep a Dog Happy and Healthy in a Small Apartment - Make a Routine

Aim for feeding him at the same time each day as well. That way Buddy’s body will start to metabolize food around your schedule and he’ll be ready to go to the bathroom when you take him out (so no standing outside for 20 minutes during the winter before he’s finally ready!).

Consider your apartment unit

All dogs, especially puppies, will need to make frequent trips outside for potty breaks. Having an apartment on the top level could make this tough. To help your dog’s legs and bladder, aim for the first floor.

consider apartment

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If you can’t secure a first floor unit, consider one with a balcony. This can be home to an emergency bathroom. You can create a corner for your pup with fake grass in case they have to go in the middle of the night.

Enlist some daytime help

Many dog breeds are more happy and healthy when they’re able to go outside and stay active throughout the day. However, this can obviously be a problem for those with schedules that require long hours away from home.

dog walker

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Hire a neighbor or friend to take your dog on walks or runs every day while you’re gone or considering signing them up for a daycare service.If given enough activity every day, even high-energy dogs can stay happy in a smaller place.

Find a pup to play with

Most dogs love hanging out with other dogs because it gives them the opportunity to interact and play in ways they can’t with humans. Find other dog owners in your apartment building or neighborhood who would like to take walks with you or even just come over for a puppy play date.

dogs playing

If there’s a dog park near you, take advantage of the opportunity for your pup to play with others, and see if you can make some connections there for future play dates.

Make training a priority

Keep your neighbors in mind. Be courteous and consider that many people are sharing the space. A dog that barks a lot will not be best received in a small, shared apartment. You should ask your veterinarian about behavioral training if your dog is a barker.

How to Keep a Dog Happy and Healthy in a Small Apartment - Make Training a Priority

Some apartments can be noisy and busy depending on the location. It might take a while for your dog to get used to all of the new noises and surroundings. Introduce them to these changes slowly, safely, and calmly so they are comfortable. You may also want to consider crate training, especially if Buddy is a loud or defensive breed. Having a crate to retreat to can be comforting if he’s anxious or scared while you’re gone.

Getting Buddy properly trained is a key way to preserve your sanity– and his. If he understands commands and knows the rules of the house, you’ll both be happier, and he won’t be confused every time he gets in trouble.

Photo by Grace Ho on Unsplash



About The Author

Lindsay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer who uses her deadline-oriented writing skills for clients like Apartment Guide,, Womensforum Media Group and Brafton.