How to Keep a Dog Happy and Healthy in a Small Apartment
Living in a small apartment can be tough for a few different 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.
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 for keeping dogs content in your apartment.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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 of us who have 9-to-5 jobs or other commitments during the day.
Hire a neighbor or friend to take your dog on walks or runs every day while you’re gone. 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.
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
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.
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.