Your Dog, His New Apartment…and you

Author: Alecia Pirulis


You find the perfect apartment, and great – they allow pets! For a small deposit, your four-legged friend is in. Now what?

Finding a dog-friendly apartment is just the first step on your apartment-living journey. You may love the apartment, but if your dog doesn’t (especially if he was in a house with a yard before the big move), life can quickly get miserable.

My Chihuahua, for example, is a great dog – as long as the nearest neighbor is three-quarters of an acre away. Most sites tell you that a Chihuahua is a great choice for apartment living – they are small, easily portable, can be bathed in the sink, look adorable in little outfits, and they don’t require a lot of room for exercise. (My Chihuahua can run around the coffee table a few dozen times, then burrow under a blanket and sleep the rest of the day.) The problem is, as with a lot of little dogs, they can be yappy. Pinky barks at everything – falling leaves, birds, frogs, neighbors, strangers, dogs barking on the television – the wind. It’s not that it’s a loud bark – she is, after all, a six-pound dog – but it can be very annoying. If you have a little yapper, be sure to put on some white noise when you leave for work in the morning – a radio, the television, or a fan – and keep your curtains closed.

The Humane Society says not to yell at your dog to be quiet – the dog believes you are barking along with them. (I suppose, in a way, you are.) Instead, remove the motivation – your dog is getting something out of barking. (I have to say, I can’t imagine what my dog is getting out of it, other than possibly feeling like she’s actually a big, scary dog.)

If your dog knows the “speak” command, it’s simple to teach them the “quiet” command. Tell your dog to speak, then when they bark, say “quiet” and put a treat under their nose. When they stop barking, praise them for being quiet and give them the treat. If your dog doesn’t know the “speak” command, say “speak” and at the same time have someone make a noise that will get your dog barking. Praise them for “speaking” and give them a treat.

Perhaps your dog isn’t a barker, but a very sweet, quiet little pug who chews on things. (Yes, I have one of those, too.) Pugs are great apartment dogs – they don’t bark much, they sleep all day, they don’t need a lot of exercise, and they are indoor dogs – they cannot tolerate heat or cold, so they prefer to not be outside unless absolutely necessary. They are friendly with everyone – strangers, kids, other dogs – but they are lousy watchdogs. My pug once tried to leave with the UPS man because he scratched her behind the ear. Pugs are people dogs – they want constant love and affection. Constant. If you work full-time, this can lead to issues such as chewing. Make sure your dog has plenty of toys, busy bones, maybe a “Kong” filled with peanut butter – and if possible, get a dog-sitter or a neighbor to come by for an hour or so in the afternoon to walk and play with your dog. If you work close to home, make it a habit to visit your dog during your lunch hour. Doggie day care is great – before considering one, be sure to check it out thoroughly.

If you can’t make it home in the middle of the day and you can’t get a dog-sitter, then you might consider a potty pad (or doggie diapers, if your dog will allow such an indignation – mine wouldn’t). Walk your dog in the morning before you go to work (or take your dog to the dog park). Wearing them out in the morning will make them sleep most of the day. Be sure they have a “dog area” in the apartment that is their comfy spot, and give them lots of toys to keep them occupied. Also, stick to a regular schedule.

It is very possible to have a happy apartment-living dog with just a little effort and some planning. Enjoy your new place!