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Apartment Living with a Dog

Asides from what people may assume, raising a dog in an apartment is not an impossible task. I admit, we got a lot of strange looks when we first mentioned that we were bringing our Miniature American (Australian) Shepherd, Lala, home to our small Condo.

Yes, the breed is on the higher end concerning energy to burn, but just as you would raise a dog in a wide spaced environment, you simply need to invest time into training, exercise, & helping your dog grow comfortable and familiar to their living environment.

Breeder influence

Generally, the people who know the most about your dog’s tendencies are the breeders who led to their existence. Not only are they able to tell you if your breed of interest could live a good life in an apartment, but they can also take your living environment into account when they are matching you to a puppy.

Our breeder matched us with Lala as she was most comfortable with the stairs and was the least vocal puppy of her litter. Two very handy characteristics when living on the fourth floor of an apartment.


Exercise is a huge factor that needs to be taken seriously, especially when it comes to larger, smarter, and active breeds. Yes, it is a little more inconvenient for those who do not have a back door which leads to a dog’s dream yard. But if it makes you feel any better, a dog’s best workout is generally done during an activity that involves you in one way or another.

You are their best friend, so act like it. We have a couple of dog parks which we are accustomed to visiting, but during times where the circumstances are telling you to stay inside, dust off those running shoes of yours and do a couple rounds of stairs. No one can get mad at you for using the stairs. Use the condo to your advantage. Who else has a yard of hallway to use at their leisure?

A tired dog does not have the energy to tear up the house. The few times when Lala has acted out, destroying a puzzle, shoe, or piece of furniture were times we neglected on her exercise.

Add a Balcony Potty

When someone shares with me that they are adopting a dog and they live in an apartment this is the first tip they will receive from me. BUY OR BUILD A BALCONY POTTY. This doesn’t mean get lazy and never leave your apartment again because “MY DOG RELIEVES HERSELF ON THE BALCONY”, but for those instances in the middle of the night, and especially during those retched potty training months, you will thank me if have a balcony potty. Ours was built with a long shallow Rubbermaid filled with wood pellets from Home Depot, a hanging bell on the balcony door… and that’s it. WORTH IT. 

Crate up

The use of crates reigns beneficial for more than just those who live in apartments, but in the case of an emergency evacuation. They happen more frequent than one would think, it’s nice to know that your pup is in an obvious spot where you or a responder can come to their aid. It does not get any worse than when you are trying to leave the apartment in a rush and your pet has decided to hide.

Establish a Routine

This is another tip that’s relevant no matter what your living situation is. But having a routine that your dog can count on will help reduce accidents. Feed them at a set time, take them out potty in the same area, have a daily activity to do. All these routine tasks will help your pup adjust to their living environment and away from destructive behavior to pass the time.

3 Words – Befriend a neighbor

Have a neighbor who always melts at the sight of your pooch? Make friends! Things happen and you may not always have the time for a long adventure with your pup. Luckily for you, there are likely a handful of people who would love a trusty companion to bring on their walk around the neighborhood.

We have a few in our building, and trust me, they are Lala’s best friends.

If you are not the social type, this tip can easily be replaced by a hired dog walker or day care.

That's all folks!

So, there you have it, an apartment raised dog is not impossible. Does it take more work? Sometimes. Should you still research your breed? Yes. Will it be worth it to invest the time necessary to get your dog properly accustomed to your apartment? Absa-fricken-lutely!

Oh and last tip… Buy a porch swing.

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