How to Keep Your Dog Happy While Living in an Apartment
As much as many of us wish we could quit our jobs, move into a big suburban house and be a stay-at-home dog parent, most pet lovers don’t have such luxuries. Instead, our realities involve a balance of living in a small apartment, working a nine-to-five job and taking care of Fido as best we can. Millions of dog owners do it — can you imagine a New York City, Chicago or San Francisco without dogs? — and raise happy, healthy, loving companions. There’s no reason you can’t do it too, and we’re here with tips on how to give your dog the best possible life when your dwelling happens to be an apartment.
Bring your dog to nearby parks
You’ll never become more familiar with your city’s parks than after getting a dog. Find one near your apartment with lots of space for walking, playing fetch or just getting some fresh air. The more you exercise your canine, the less they’ll take energy out on your furniture or favorite pair of shoes when left alone in your apartment.
BONUS TIP: Exercise your dog in the morning before you leave for work. They’ll be tired and likely go for a nap, making the day pass by quicker without you there.
Socialize, socialize, socialize
Chances are your dog is not the only pooch in the neighborhood, as much as they’d like to think they are at times. Give them a chance to socialize with other dogs, especially during puppyhood when it’s most crucial. Opportunities to do so aren’t limited to the dog park — join a local dog walking group, utilize the dog-friendly amenities in your apartment building or arrange puppy play dates with your neighbors.
BONUS TIP: Dog parks are controversial and not the best option for every dog. Trust your gut and don’t feel pressured to take your dog there — there are plenty of other ways to socialize your pet.
Create a safe, comfortable space for your dog in the apartment
Dogs may love the freedom of roaming an open field off-leash, but they also crave small, secure, well-defined spaces. Make sure your dog has an area in your apartment where they can rest and feel safe, whether it’s a dog bed, crate or fenced-off section created with “baby gates.” It will come in handy when they’re left home alone, but they’ll want to use it at other times too, even when you’re present.
BONUS TIP: Put your dog’s favorite toys, blankets and other items inside the space to make it even more comforting.
Dogs are intelligent enough to entertain themselves when you’re not home, but without the proper tools, they may destroy your possessions in order to do so. Leave them with treat-dispensing toys, puzzle games, automatic fetch machines and other solo amusements. It’s also wise to leave the TV or radio on to provide some visual and auditory stimulation.
BONUS TIP: A good chew treat is another way to keep your dog occupied in the apartment and prevent them from chewing on other things, like your valuables. Try a tasty, all-natural bully stick, recommended by the American Kennel Club.
Use a pet sitter, dog walker or doggy daycare
Of course, leaving your dog alone in your apartment while you’re at work all day isn’t ideal. You certainly don’t have to, as there are several resources for busy dog parents in need of daytime care for their pup. Hire a pet sitter to check in on your dog and take them out for potty breaks, or a dog walker to exercise them during the day. If your budget allows it, full or part-time doggy daycare is another option, which doubles as a great way to socialize your dog.
What about business travel?
If you’ll be traveling a week or more for work and have the privilege of taking your four-legged friend along with you, it can be hard to find dog-friendly hotels. Consider staying in a pet-friendly, short-term furnished apartment. You’ll both be able to stick to your normal routine and create a home away from home for both you and your best friend.