10 Tips To Make Apartment Living With Dogs Totally Doable


If you’re a regular Proud Dog Mom reader then you may know my husband, two dogs, and I recently became homeowners. As we settle into our new house, I continue to get a lot of emails asking about apartment living. After spending several years in an apartment with my furry kids, I definitely learned a thing or two. So here you have it: My advice for making apartment living with dogs totally doable!

1. Think About Breed

This is a little about size and a lot about energy level. I have two tiny pups — a 5-pound Chihuahua and an 8-pound Toy Poodle. So they thought our 1,000 square foot apartment was ginormous! They had plenty of room to run around and exert their energy — I can still picture them chasing each other from one side of the apartment to the other until they crashed from exhaustion. If you have a large breed dog, however, they won’t have the same running room. But, that doesn’t mean a large dog can’t thrive in a smaller space. If you’re a large dog-lover who plans on living in an apartment then consider lazier breeds who like to lounge — like a Chow Chow and Bullmastiff.

Note: Some apartment complexes have weight limits. So make sure to check requirements with the office staff before you sign a lease!

2. Don’t Hide Your Dog From The Apartment Complex’s Staff

Most apartment complexes will charge a one-time pet deposit and a monthly pet fee on top of your regular rent. It just is what it is. I highly recommend you bite the bullet here and avoid sneaking your tiny dog into the apartment (I highlight tiny pups because you can’t really ‘sneak’ in an 80-pound pooch lol). True story: When I lived in Texas, one of my co-workers was moving apartments with her 3-pound Chihuahua. In an attempt to avoid the extra pet fees, she signed her new lease claiming to live pet-free. When the office staff caught her walking the same Chihuahua around the complex multiple times, they grew suspicious and eventually demanded she either pay the fee or get out!

Trust me — things are just easier when you follow the rules!

3. Try To Get A First-Floor Apartment

I know many top floor apartments come with great views, but you’ll really appreciate that first-floor apartment every time your dog asks to go for a potty break. Your dog — especially as a young puppy — will need to go for frequent walks to relieve himself. Renting a fifth, tenth, or fifteenth-floor apartment makes things a bit more complicated for weak bladders!

4. Set Up A Relief Area On Your Patio

If you can’t get a first-floor apartment then it’s worth setting up a little faux-grassed emergency potty station on your patio (just make sure to keep it clean). You shouldn’t really need this once your pooch matures and has full control over his bladder. But a nearby emergency bathroom spot is super helpful for new puppies.

5. Don’t Adopt A Dog Just To Let Him/Her Stay On The Patio

Speaking of patios, please don’t adopt a loving dog just to leave him out on the patio all day and night! I’ve witnessed this situation and can’t express how much my blood boiled every time I saw this poor little pug abandoned outside alone. I often spotted this dog standing on top of his plastic crate because the entire patio was soiled with his poo — his humans never bothered to clean up. Honestly, why even have a dog if you’re just going to ignore him/her?!

6. Carve Out Enough Time For Exercise

You know what they say: A tired dog is a good dog! But, seriously, carving out enough time to exercise your dog is extremely important for a number of reasons — it helps with beating doggy boredom, preventing behavioral problems, keeping your pup in good shape, and warding off various illnesses. Try heading down to the local park for a tiring game of fetch, a nearby hiking trail for a challenging walk, or a local beach for some excitement!

7. Load Up On Dog Puzzles

Momma said there would be days like this … when the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor fun. When you’re trapped inside, make sure your dog stays stimulated with some mentally challenging dog puzzles. They don’t take up much room and will help keep your pooch engaged. In the video below, I highlight three of my favorites. Plus, check out this list of some other puppy puzzle favorites.

8. Dog Walkers and Doggy Daycares Are The Working Dog Parents’ Best Friend

Before I started working from home, I worked as a news reporter/anchor for an area television station. So, I dealt with long, demanding days that didn’t usually allow me to come home for lunch to walk my dogs. If you’re in that same boat then it may be a good idea to hire someone to help out! You can either hire a dog walker who comes to your house once or twice a day or sign your fur kid up for daycare. Doggy daycare is great because — not only is someone watching your dog — but he also gets to play with other canines for hours on end. A watchful eye, socialization, and plenty of exercise — now that sounds like a great recipe to me!

9. Train The “Quiet” Command Early On

When you live in an apartment, you share walls with other people. If you want to have a good reputation with your neighbors then you’ll definitely want to teach Fido some good manners (AKA to be quiet)! To help stop inappropriate barking, teach Fido the “quiet” command. Rockstar dog trainer Victoria Stillwell recommends teaching this essential command in two steps, beginning with a “bark” command. 

  • When your dog barks, praise him and use a verbal cue such as “bark.” Get him to associate barking with the word “bark.”  
  • Once your pooch begins to understand what “bark” means encourage him to bark. 
  • When your dog stops barking give him a different treat and use the vocal cue “quiet.” Get him to associate the action of not barking with the word “quiet.” 
  • Continue training until both cues are strong. 

10. Desensitize Your Pooch

Unfamiliar people and noises can make a dog nervous, causing him to act out through incessant barking and destruction. That’s why it’s important to expose your pup to as many types of people, walking surfaces, and noises as possible. Obviously, the earlier you do this, the better. Check out my tips for socializing your puppy.